About 400 Connecticut residents and Yale affiliates marched through New Haven on Friday in protest of banks that have investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Friday’s protest, which lasted from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., targeted the Elm City branches of Wells Fargo, Bank of America and TD Bank. Protest organizers emphasized the importance of long term organization as well as intersectional coalitions.
“If you can come out in the cold and protest, you can send an email,” said Melinda Tuhus, an organizer with the local group New Haven Stands with Standing Rock.
The proposed pipeline, often referred to as DAPL, would transport crude oil across the Midwest. In December, the U.S. Army halted construction on the project after extensive protests at the building site in Standing Rock, North Dakota, a territory of cultural significance to the Sioux Tribe.
But an executive order signed by President Donald Trump last week revived the pipeline, sparking renewed protests by those who believe the pipeline should not be allowed to run through culturally valuable Sioux land.
In a speech, Tuhus urged attendees to contact the heads of banks invested in DAPL and to close their accounts at the banks. Referencing a recent talk at Yale by civil rights activist Diane Nash, Tuhus said it is important that concerned citizens focus on sustained, planned activism in addition to public demonstrations.
Attendees chanted “Sacred water sacred land: Ask Wells Fargo where it stands” as they marched in a circle on the sidewalk. They then continued down Church Street to chant in front of Bank of America before heading up Chapel Street to TD Bank.
Representatives from Bank of America and Wells Fargo could not be reached for comment over the weekend.
Members from the National Lawyers Guild of Legal Observers attended the protest along with student activists from around the state.
David Diaz ’18, a co-founder of Young Democratic Socialists at Yale, said he helped bring students to the protest with a group from Wesleyan University.
Like Tuhus, Diaz emphasized that change requires sustained commitment and organization. It was organizing that pushed President Barack Obama to stall DAPL, Diaz said, and people must continue to resist until Trump stops the project as well.
Laila Sticpewich ’19, who attended the protest, said she believes showing up to every action in New Haven is important as so few Yale students attend city protests. She expressed worry that people will “end up going to sleep” in a few weeks and that resistance to Trump will lose momentum.
Norman Clement, an organizer of the ANSWER Coalition and a member of the Quinnipiac tribe, told the crowd that people will have to return to the Standing Rock camp, which he has visited twice, to continue to resist the pipeline. He spoke about protesters who have been “brutalized” by police and military forces as well as the history the United States has of not respecting treaties with sovereign tribes.
Clement also expressed concern that the financial involvement of Trump and Rick Perry, Trump’s pick for Energy Secretary, in the pipeline is a conflict of interest. Perry is a board member of Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the pipeline, according to reports by CNBC. And Trump held stock in the company, The Washington Post reported in November, though a campaign spokesperson said in November he had sold all of his stock holdings.
The proposed pipeline would extend 1,172 miles across North Dakota.