Protester Carl Moore is calling on Utahns—often regarded as reverent and respectful—to join as allies in the fight against an oil pipeline that encroaches on sacred Native American burial plots.
The 1,200-mile long pipeline will run through four states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. A segment of the pipe tunnels under the Missouri River, which protesters worry could contaminate drinking water should the pipe leak. Those in opposition also say the conduit crosses a sacred burial site near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
In ceremonial dress, Moore led a protest Monday morning in downtown Salt Lake City, which included a guidance prayer.
“Everything at Standing Rock is done in prayer,” he told City Weekly. “This is nonviolent. It has always been nonviolent. The violence only comes from the government, the county, the sheriff’s office. They’re the ones being violent. They’re the ones shooting us in the faces with bean bags or rubber bullets. They’re the ones macing us. They’re the ones pushing us down.”
Last week, Moore rallied with other protesters in North Dakota where more than 80 people were arrested. The total number of arrests is in the hundreds. And authorities summoned forces from neighboring states to help suppress the protesters. Hollywood stars and media members were among those arrested, including Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, who was threatened with severe felony charges earlier this month before they were dismissed.
Although Moore says he was not met with any violence while he was there, reports of sweeping police action have captured national headlines.
“The native people are leading this issue,” he said. “But this is an issue of clean water, respect and dignity—a matter of sacredness. Native Americans have never been allowed to have things be sacred. To most people here, sacred is a Christian sacred. There is no other sacred so everything else is not real. But we need to allow Native Americans to have their sacred.”
Moore, chairman of PANDOS, plans to help raise money for the legal battles that will surely follow.