Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is going to be charged with vandalism and trespassing after joining hundreds of Native Americans in their protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Stein spray painted words of protest on a bulldozer belonging to the oil company, Energy Transfer Partners, trying to construct the pipeline.
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said the sheriff’s department is “working up the information through the state’s attorney’s office to pursue charges (against Stein).” It’s unclear if the charges would be felonies or misdemeanors.
On Facebook, Stein boldly publicized her actions, writing, “The state of North Dakota may charge me with vandalism for painting a bulldozer. Will they charge the oil company that bulldozed the sacred burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux?”
The Standing Rock Sioux, whose land is threatened by the pipeline’s construction, have been joined by some 200 other tribes in solidarity, reportedly the largest alliance of Native peoples in 150 years. The Great Sioux Nation, the Seven Fires Council, has reunited. Janaya Khan said, “The Seven Fires Council, who last came together in 1867, is together now. When they last united, they defeated American forces in the Battle of Little Big Horn.”
The pipeline would carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, pumping through nearly half a million barrels a day. The oil company’s efforts are being funded by big banks. As Democracy Now! reports, “Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and other financial institutions have, combined, extended a $3.75 billion credit line to Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access.”
The Standing Rock Sioux say the construction destroyed sacred burial sites, and fear the poisoning of local water should a spill ever occur. There is also a general opposition to the use of fossil fuels and the environmental damage it causes.
Hundreds of protesters put their bodies in the path of oil company machines to halt construction. Some have chained themselves to equipment. Private security forces used attack dogs and pepper spray on some protesters to get them to back down, sparking outrage across the country.