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Group Gathers to Protest Pipeline, Send Support to North Dakota Protesters
Photo by: Larry Valenzuela
November 17, 2016
Students and faculty members at Fresno City College gathered Thursday in the Yokut Memorial Plaza to stand in solidarity with the people protesting the North Dakota Access Pipeline.
A march started in front of the campus library and snaked around the Old Administration Building; it ended in the Yokut Plaza where approximately 200 people stood to listen to speeches and Native American music and dances.
Maria Aguilar, a biology major was the first to start planning the event. Aguilar said the images of protesters in North Dakota being mistreated inspired her to stage the protest at the college.
“The more I realized how it was progressing, and how they were treating all of the people [protesters] out there, I just felt like it was really dehumanizing,” Aguilar said.
But Aguilar said the most important issue for her in the protest is the preservation and protection of water.
“Our reserves are going to be completely contaminated and we won’t have any clean water for the generations to come,” she said.
The 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline would run from North Dakota to Illinois, carrying up to 570,000 barrels of oil a day.
Those against the pipeline say it would endanger the water supply in the Mississippi River and harm sacred Sioux land.
Dr. Bernard M. Navarro, a professor of American-Indian studies at FCC helped organize the event. Navarro says he was impressed by the number of people who showed up and that the event helped build up spirit, even if Fresno is thousands of miles away from the site of the pipeline.
“I’ve been feeling kind of down the last couple days, partly because of the results of the election, the general tone of the country, and what’s going on out there in North Dakota,” Navarro said. “We just wanted to come together, and send some support out there, and also to help people feel better and let them know that people care about these issues.”
Rojelio Morales of the Yokut Tribe of Santa Rosa Rancheria was invited to speak at the protest and tell of his personal experiences at the protest site in North Dakota.
“What I see here today is what I’ve seen out there at Standing Rock,” Morales said in his speech. “It’s not and Indigenous thing, it’s not a Native American thing. It’s an international thing. It’s a humanity thing.”
People who attended the event were invited to touch the Yokuts monument in the Yokuts Plaza near the Music, Speech and Communication Building. In unison, the crowd chanted: “I stand with Standing Rock.”