A handful of anti-pipeline demonstrators were arrested Friday after chaining themselves to the doors of one of the banks financing the contentious Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
Five activists shackled themselves to TD Bank in Amherst, Mass., and prevented customers from gaining entrance. Their actions are part of a coordinated effort to stigmatize banks financing the pipeline.
“I’m here to stand with the water protectors at Standing Rock, North Dakota, who are standing up for their land and their water that’s being put at risk by the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Aly Johnson-Kurts, one of the protesters, told reporters.
Demonstrators delivered a letter to TD Bank’s manager and employees highlighting a list of demands.
“When investment decisions affect the climate, we are all stakeholders,” the letter stated. “When investment decisions affect the drinking water of millions of people in this country, we are all stakeholders. And when investment decisions perpetuate historical and colonial violence, it is our duty to stand up in opposition.”
Activists and members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe spent months railing against the $3.7 billion project based on the belief that it will trample tribal grounds and potentially poison the tribe’s primary water supply, the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
The Army Corps of Engineers rejected Dec.4 the previously approved easement necessary to complete the pipeline. A bureaucrat appointed by President Barack Obama was responsible for signing off on the rejection notice.
Anti-DAPL activists are not satisfied. They believe President-elect Donald Trump could approve the line’s route at a moment’s notice once sworn into office. They’re now taking the fight to the financial institutions invested in the pipeline.
“Today we’re putting pressure on TD Bank because they are funding the companies that are building the pipeline,” Johnson-Kurts said. “They are loaning money to them that is allowing the pipeline to be built.”
TD Bank has contributed about $365 million into the construction of the nearly 1,200-mile-long oil pipeline. DAPL would bring 470,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day from western North Dakota to southern Illinois.
Citi Group and Wells Fargo are also being pressured by anti-fracking activists and members of the Standing Rock Sioux to halt any and all monetary backing of the company responsible for constructing the DAPL.
They are also targeting TD Bank for investing in the equally controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. Many of the same environmentalist groups opposing the DAPL pipeline helped scuttle Keystone.
Judith Schmidt, vice president and head of corporate media relations for TD Bank, told reporters the bank supports renewable efforts of all kinds and is listening to protesters’ concerns.
“We support efforts to ensure the sustainability and safety of the Dakota Access Pipeline site,” Schmidt said. “And we respect the rights of those who wish to voice their opinions in peaceful protest.”
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