Protest in South - History

Protest in South - History

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1960 was a year of widespread protests in the South. Blacks, led by student protesters, initiated widespread sit-ins throughout the South, demanding integration of restaurants and other public accommodations. In one of the sit-ins, Reverend Martin Luther King was arrested, and sentenced to four months in jail for parole violation from an earlier traffic violation. Presidential candidate Kennedy helped secure King's release from jail.

Protests in South Africa

It is often argued that the rate of protests has been escalating since 2004, [2] but Steven Friedman argues that the current wave of protests stretches back to the 1970s. [3] The rate of protests "rose dramatically in the first eight months of 2012", [4] and it was reported that there 540 protests in the province of Gauteng between 1 April and 10 May 2013. [5] In February 2014 it was reported that there had been "nearly 3,000 protest actions in the last 90 days – more than 30 a day– involving more than a million people". [6] [7]

Since 2008, more than 2 million people have taken to the streets in protest every year. [8] Njabulo Ndebele argued, "Widespread 'service delivery protests' may soon take on an organisational character that will start off as discrete formations and then coalesce into a full-blown movement". [9] There has been considerable repression of popular protests. [10] The most common reasons for protests are grievances around urban land and housing. [11] [12] It has been reported that "Nearly 75% of South Africans aged 20-29 did not vote in the 2011 [local government] elections" and that "South Africans in that age group were more likely to have taken part in violent street protests against the local ANC than to have voted for the ruling party". [13]

In September 2013 the police reported that they had "made more than 14,000 arrests at protests in the past four years". [14]

According to The Times "Informal settlements have been at the forefront of service delivery protests as residents demand houses and basic services". [15]

5 of the Most Influential Protests in History

W hen Mohandas Gandhi began his famous Salt March 85 years ago today, on Mar. 12, 1930, he couldn&rsquot have known the influence it would wield on the history of India and the world. Not only did it play a major role in India&rsquos eventual freedom from British rule, but it also went on to inspire future protestors to incredible acts of civil disobedience.

In honor of the anniversary, we&rsquove rounded up five major protests that served as inspiration for future protestors, from ancient times to the modern day.

1. Gandhi&rsquos Salt March

Under British rule, Indians were prohibited from collecting or selling salt&mdashBritain had a monopoly on that staple product, and taxed it heavily. Gandhi assembled his supporters in 1930 to march 240 mi. from his ashram to the Arabian Sea to collect salt from the ocean. The crowd snowballed along the way more than 60,000 Indians were arrested for breaking the salt law. It was an ideal method of protest, because collecting salt was a completely non-violent activity and involved a commodity that was truly important to Indians. The protest continued until Gandhi was granted bargaining rights at a negotiation in London. India didn&rsquot see freedom until 1947, but the salt satyagraha (his brand of civil disobedience) established Gandhi as a force to be reckoned with and set a powerful precedent for future nonviolent protestors, including Martin Luther King Jr.

Read TIME’s original 1930 cover story about the Salt March, here in the TIME Vault:Pinch of Salt

2. The March on Washington

By 1963, African Americans had been freed from slavery for a century yet continued to live lives burdened by inequality in every realm of society. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was intended to push lawmakers to pass legislation that address these inequalities, and its organizers were so successful that more than 200,000 supporters turned out for the action&mdashdouble their estimate. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered perhaps the most famous speech in American history, his &ldquoI Have a Dream&rdquo address, at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, and the leaders met with President Kennedy afterwards to discuss their goals. The march was credited with helping build support to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and its messages of the hard work to build equality are echoed today from the Ferguson protests to President Obama&rsquos recent speech in Selma, Ala.

3. Lysistrata

Though Aristophane&rsquos comedy was fictional, it held real-life lessons for future generations: In the 5th-century-BC play, the protagonist organizes Greek women to agree not to have sex with their husbands and lovers until they can forge peace and end the Peloponnesian War. Silly as the concept may sound, sex strikes have been used as peacekeeping measures in modern societies from Colombia to the Philippines. Perhaps most notably, women in Liberia included a sex strike in their Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace that successfully ended the 13-year Second Liberian Civil War&mdashand got a female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, elected. Sirleaf and organizer Leymah Gbowee won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work.

4. The Self-Immolation of Thich Quang Duc

The Vietnamese Buddhist monk did not invent the act of burning oneself to death, but his self-immolation on the street in Saigon in 1963 to protest the treatment of Buddhists in South Vietnam shocked the world and created a horrific new genre of political protest. Like many forms of suicide, self-immolation proved contagious: other Vietnamese monks followed suit, as did an American in Washington, D.C. to protest the war. Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi is credited with sparking the Arab Spring uprising in 2010 with his self-immolation to protest his treatment by the oppressive government, and more than 100 Tibetans have self-immolated in the last five years in protest of Chinese rule.

5. Take Back the Night

Since the 1970s, events under the Take Back the Night umbrella have protested violence against women in the form of marches and rallies around the world, often in direct response to specific murders of women. The movement set a precedent for future actions concerned with female safety and sexuality, like SlutWalk, a march that began in 2011 to oppose a statement by a Toronto Police Constable that &ldquowomen should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.&rdquo More recently, Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz has protested her university&rsquos decision to allow her alleged rapist to remain on campus with her project &ldquoCarry that Weight,&rdquo in which she hauls her dorm mattress everywhere she goes.

Read TIME&rsquos definitive ranking of the top 10 most influential protests of all time here.

Kwangju Uprising

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Kwangju Uprising, also called Kwangju Rebellion, Kwangju also spelled Gwangju, mass protest against the South Korean military government that took place in the southern city of Kwangju between May 18 and 27, 1980. Nearly a quarter of a million people participated in the rebellion. Although it was brutally repressed and initially unsuccessful in bringing about democratic reform in South Korea, it is considered to have been a pivotal moment in the South Korean struggle for democracy.

The roots of the Kwangju Uprising may be traced to the authoritarianism of the Republic of Korea’s first president, the anticommunist Syngman Rhee. During his almost 18 years in office, Rhee grew continuously more repressive toward his political opposition in particular and the country’s citizens in general. Those conditions precipitated massive student-led demonstrations in early 1960 and Rhee’s ouster in April of that year. After the country was governed for a brief period by a parliamentary system, a military coup led by Gen. Park Chung-Hee displaced the government in May 1961. Park became president the following year and remained in office for the next 18 years.

As president, Park repressed the political opposition and the personal freedom of South Korea’s citizens and controlled the press and the universities. In December 1972 he introduced the Yushin Constitution, which dramatically increased presidential powers and created a virtual dictatorship. When Park was assassinated on October 26, 1979, a power void resulted that was filled by Chun Doo-Hwan, a brigadier general who had taken control of the South Korean military through an internal coup. Once in power, Chun persuaded the new president, Choi Kyu-Hah, to name him chief of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency in April 1980. The military, under Chun’s leadership, declared martial law the following month.

The situation soon escalated with a series of nationwide protests against military rule that were led by labour activists, students, and opposition leaders, who began calling for democratic elections. Kwangju—the provincial capital of South Chŏlla (South Jeolla), in southwestern South Korea—which had a long history of political opposition and a simmering grievance toward the Park regime, was a centre of the pro-democracy movement. On May 18 some 600 students gathered at Chonnam National University to protest against the suppression of academic freedom and were beaten by government forces. Civilian demonstrators joined the students.

With the approval of the United States, which had maintained operational control over combined U.S. and Korean forces since the end of the Korean War, Chun’s government sent elite paratroopers from the Special Forces to Kwangju to contain the unrest. When the soldiers arrived, they began beating the demonstrators. Rather than squelch the protest, the brutal tactics had the opposite affect, inciting more citizens to join in.

As the uprising continued, protesters broke into police stations and armories to seize weapons. They armed themselves with bats, knives, pipes, hammers, Molotov cocktails, and whatever else they could find. They faced 18,000 riot police and 3,000 paratroopers. On May 20 a newspaper called the Militants’ Bulletin was published to counter the “official” news being published by government-run or highly partisan media outlets such as the newspaper Chosun Ilbo, which had characterized the protesters as hoodlums with guns. By the early evening of May 21, the government had retreated, and the citizens of Kwangju declared the city liberated from military rule.

The relative quiet lasted only six days. In the predawn hours of May 27, Chun’s military forces unleashed tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and helicopters that began indiscriminately attacking the city. It took the military only two hours to completely crush the uprising. According to official government figures, nearly 200 people—the great majority of them civilians—were killed in the rebellion, but Kwangju citizens and students insisted that the number was closer to 2,000.

Despite the uprising’s failure to bring about democracy in the Korean peninsula, the sentiments surrounding the episode continued to simmer afterward. By the late 1980s public demand and scrutiny had led to the reinstitution of direct presidential elections under Chun’s chosen successor, Roh Tae-Woo, and in 1993 Kim Young-Sam became the first president democratically elected by the Korean people. In 1998 Kim Dae-Jung, who had once been arrested and sentenced to death for his role during the Kwangju Uprising, became the second democratically elected president Roh Moo Hyun, who became president in 2003, also had a connection to the uprising. In 1996 Chun and Roh Tae-Woo had been convicted of mutiny, treason, and corruption in connection with the 1979 coup and the Kwangju massacre, but Kim Dae-Jung upon taking office as president in 1997 pardoned both men.

Protest in South - History

Editor's Note:

Belarus has been called Europe&rsquos last dictatorship, but ongoing protests in the wake of the disputed August 2020 Presidential elections have posed the most serious threat yet to the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. This month, historian Stephen Norris sketches the history of Belarus and examines how demonstrators, online activists, and artists are seeking to redefine Belarusian politics, nationalism, and identity.

Protests continue to sweep across Belarus. By the end of 2020, more than 30,000 people had been arrested, a staggering figure that one human rights organization rightly referred to as unprecedented repression in the country&rsquos history. More than five months after President Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in a fraudulent election, his opponents have not given up.

The Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, 2020 (left). A banner in Minsk stating the date of the 2020 presidential election (middle). Alexander Lukashenko has been the president of Belarus since 1994 and recently claimed victory in a fraudulent election (right).

&ldquoI cannot understand how we could stop when people have suffered and continue to suffer,&rdquo one woman participating in December&rsquos protests said. &ldquoWe cannot close our eyes to this.&rdquo Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the opposition leader who claimed victory in the August elections, declared, &ldquoEach march is a reminder that Belarusians will not surrender.&rdquo

While the size and duration of the protests might be surprising, they stem from frustrations that have built up over the years and that have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In August, after sham elections, Alexander Lukashenko, the authoritarian president of the country since 1994, declared victory and the start of his sixth term in office. After a quarter century in power and previous electoral frauds, many in Belarus had had enough.

Lukashenko again barred international election monitors from observing the election. But grassroots organizations were more prepared than ever to cover widespread fraud, publishing evidence of it across social media. This flow of information also reflects important shifts within Belarus, especially the massive growth in internet access. In 2010, only a third of the population had it, while a decade later that proportion had reached nearly four-fifths.

A greater number of people want more from the government, and the Lukashenko system has proven unable to respond to these demands.

Throw in a stunningly poor response to the coronavirus pandemic&mdashLukashenko had dismissed the virus as a form of &ldquopsychosis&rdquo and suggested a good shot of vodka would ward it off before contracting it himself&mdashand you have the recipe for resistance.

The immediate protests in August were the largest in the history of Belarus. Since then, the protestors&rsquo tactics have evolved, with marchers now participating in smaller demonstrations across the country, but their aims have not wavered.

Initially, the protestors carried two different flags that symbolized Belarus&rsquos history, but after the first week of taking to the streets, one of these flags became more central to the anti-Lukashenko opposition: a white flag with a red horizontal stripe.

Since August, protestors and artists have enlisted historical symbols and revised historical memories in their attempt to change their system.

The flag&rsquos history and the evolution of how it functions as a national symbol help us understand the sustained protests. So too do Tikhanovskaya&rsquos words, which reference a fundamental notion of what it means to be Belarusian.

A Bit about Belarus

The protests in Belarus have brought the country into the international limelight, but Belarus remains largely unknown to Americans. And yet, as one of its leading historians, Per Anders Rudling, has written, Belarus has a population larger than his native Sweden, larger than the three Baltic republics combined, and larger than Austria. It would be the 11 th largest U.S. state.

Modern Belarusian nationalism was one of the most recent to appear in Europe.

The first Belarusian language newspaper appeared only in 1906. Branislaŭ Taraškievič, a crucial figure in the development of a Belarusian national consciousness, popularized the Belarusian language in 1918 by writing a grammar book, which was published in several editions. Arkadź Smolič&rsquos map of Belarusian dialects, which charted the regional scope of Belarusian identity, appeared in 1919.

Political mobilization for Belarusian independence, dominated by agrarian socialists, developed along similar chronological parameters, kickstarting after the 1905 Revolution swept through the Russian Empire.

Because modern Belarusian nationhood followed this path, the imagined community of Belarus, more than any other European country, has been shaped by the 20th century and the era of the world wars.

Like its neighbor Ukraine, Belarus started the 20th century with a largely rural population, albeit one not split across the Habsburg and Romanov empires. Like in Ukraine, the first stirrings of modern nationhood were shaped by the Russian imperial view that Belarusians were not a separate nation, but a less evolved group of fellow Russians (White Russians or West Russians).

Like in Ukraine, Belarusian lands had once formed part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, providing a relatively recent history separate from Russia that Belarusian nationalists could embrace.

The Great War that began in 1914 brought German occupation of Belarusian lands, which in turn jumpstarted an independence movement. When German forces arrived in the region, they were surprised to discover a people they had never heard of, and soon figured out by a process of elimination that they were not Lithuanian, Polish, or Russian.

The German occupation regime lifted imperial Russian censorship and the ban on using Belarusian language the grammar book and dialect map appeared in these circumstances.

The passport of the Belarusian People's Republic featuring the Pahonia, 1918 (left). A stamp from the Belarusian People&rsquos Republic, 1918 (right).

As the Eastern Front of the war grew more chaotic after the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917, Belarusian independence movements seized on their chance.

On March 25, 1918, just 22 days after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk took the new Bolshevik state out of the war, a coalition of political movements announced the creation of the Belarusian People&rsquos Republic [BNR]. It was intended to be independent, oriented politically toward the dominant agrarian socialists, but decidedly not Bolshevik.

The Republic lasted one year before being caught in the midst of the Soviet-Polish War and then swallowed up with the establishment of the USSR in 1922 (the Bolsheviks had first created a Belorussian SSR in 1920).

Belarus is thus one of many former Soviet republics that tend to get defined by their historical relationship to their much larger neighbor, Russia. It is also often seen as the closest to and most assimilated within Russia.

This situation has led some Belarusian academics, including the philosopher Valiancin Akudovic, to argue that the primary predicament for articulating modern Belarusian nationhood is its domination by silences, absences, and empty signs.

Much more could be said about this history. It matters most in 2020 because the protests ended these silences and filled in the meaning of old symbols. Protestors wielded the flag of the BNR, one with a white background and a horizontal red stripe in the middle. The official BNR state emblem, the Pahonia&mdasha knight on horseback&mdashwas originally a symbol of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

The BNR as a political entity might not have lasted very long, but these symbols proved durable, often serving as emblems of independence during the Soviet era.

When Belarus declared its independence from the USSR in 1991, the new Belarusian state initially restored the BNR flag and state emblem. In 2020, protestors turned to them again as a means to challenge Lukashenko&rsquos embrace of Soviet-era symbols, thus infusing them with new meaning once more.

The War and the Weight of Traumatic History

When Tikhanovskaya declared that Belarusians would never surrender, she evoked the central component of modern Belarusian nationhood: resistance in the Second World War.

Much can be (and has been) written on this subject, but the most striking fact remains the death toll: 2.29 million Belarusians, or just over one-quarter of the population perished (by way of comparison, approximately 1.3 million Americans have died in all wars since 1776).

Belarus, the historian Timothy Snyder writes in his book, Bloodlands, was the &ldquocenter of the confrontation between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, with the capital city of Minsk its epicenter.&rdquo Between 1941 and 1944, Snyder concludes, Belarus was &ldquothe deadliest place on earth.&rdquo

The Kholm Gate at the Brest Fortress (left). A wide view of the Courage Monument, constructed in 1971, at the “hero fortress” in Brest, Belarus (right).

After the war ended, the Soviet state enshrined the Belarusian wartime experience in a series of monumental complexes. The Brest Fortress, where Red Army forces held out even while the Wehrmacht advanced deep into Soviet territory, was named a &ldquohero fortress&rdquo in 1965.

Six years later, a massive memorial complex opened, complete with a 100-foot stone sculpture of a soldier entitled &ldquoCourage.&rdquo In the destroyed village of Khatyn, just over 30 miles from Minsk, the Soviet state unveiled a national memorial in 1969 to the victims of the 1943 massacre there perpetrated by a Nazi police battalion.

The complex contains a &ldquocemetery of villages&rdquo with 185 tombs and a statue called &ldquoUnbowed Man,&rdquo of Yuzif Kaminsky, Khatyn&rsquos only adult survivor, holding the body of his dead son.

The &ldquoUnbowed Man&rdquo statue shows Yuzif Kaminsky, Khatyn&rsquos only adult survivor, holding the body of his dead son (left). Cemetery of Villages in Khatyn with 185 tombs. Each tomb symbolizes a particular village in Belarus that the Nazis burned. (right).

Just outside Minsk, which was named a &ldquoHero City&rdquo in 1974, a &ldquoMound of Glory&rdquo consecrated in 1969 commemorates the liberation of the city by Red Army forces in 1944.

Collectively, these and other Belarusian memorials to the war continue to speak to the courage, resistance, sacrifices, and suffering associated with the war, all essential components of the larger Soviet narratives about victory.

Lukashenko has rebuilt a cult of the war, though a specifically Belarusian version of it. The Belarusian dictator has revitalized the memorial sites and has dedicated other memory sites, including a new one at the former extermination camp at Maly Trostenets.

Like his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, Lukashenko relishes the annual Victory Day parade festivities held every year on May 9. This year Lukashenko went ahead with a large one to mark the 75th anniversary of the war&rsquos end despite the coronavirus pandemic. In his speech, he acknowledged it was a &ldquodifficult time,&rdquo but thundered, &ldquoOur current difficulties are obscured by the hardships and losses that befell the heroic generation that saved the world from the Brown Plague.&rdquo

In promoting the Victory so thoroughly, the Lukashenko regime has highlighted actions that its political opponents have found useful. Belarusian protestors have adopted the language of &ldquofascists,&rdquo &ldquoresistance,&rdquo and &ldquoheroism.&rdquo

&ldquoWe were brought up on endless films and books about fighting the fascists, and then, when you look at the uniforms, the style, the methods used by the authorities, it&rsquos not hard to see why these memories resonated,&rdquo said Yulia Chernyavskaya, a Belarusian cultural anthropologist.

The myth of the &ldquopartisan republic,&rdquo as the scholar Simon Lewis has written, has persisted, but has increasingly been challenged, particularly as Lukashenko revived the war&rsquos mythology.

The artist Vladimir Tsesler also challenges these notions in his Instagram works. A prominent Belarusian designer and graphic artist, Tsesler has gained a massive social media following in the wake of the August protests.

One recent post consists of a picture of the Marat Kazei monument in Minsk. Kazei joined the partisan movement in World War II and died after sustaining multiple injuries in a skirmish with Nazi forces. As he lay wounded, with enemy troops moving toward him, Kazei pulled the pin on a grenade, killing himself and his enemies. He was 14 years old.

Tsesler&rsquos invocation of Kazei&rsquos actions comes with the words: &ldquoRise up, Marat, there are fascists in Belarus again!&rdquo

The protestors and the art of protesting have collectively stripped the meanings of the war away from Lukashenko&rsquos version of it and made it more democratic: the idea of patriotic resistance, captured in the notion of a &ldquopartisan gene,&rdquo has returned to the streets.

More and more Belarusians have adopted the language the Lukashenko regime has used about the war and added their own voice to it, turning against the state.

Svetlana Alexievich, the Nobel Prize winning author who has long documented the voices of people silenced in official histories, fears that her fellow Belarusians have not yet developed a way to combat Lukashenko&rsquos Stalinist-style methods. Victory in World War II, she has noted, meant Belarusians &ldquodeveloped an ingrained vaccine&rdquo against fascism, &ldquobut we don&rsquot have any medicine to protect us from the Gulag and Stalin.&rdquo

Certainly, the protestors and the artists who have helped define the protests are trying to inoculate themselves.

Both Tsesler and Alexievich joined Tikhanovskaya&rsquos Opposition Coordinating Council. Tsesler even paid tribute to Alexievich&rsquos moral authority after her August arrest, creating a virtual memorial plaque stating that &ldquoin this building Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich was interrogated on August 26, 2020.&rdquo

Another Tsesler image connects the Lukashenko regime with the Stalinist: in it, the state coat of arms, the one Lukashenko took from the Soviet era, comes emblazoned with the dates 1994-1937. In Tsesler&rsquos vision, the Lukashenko era, which began in 1994, has gone backward, not forward, taking the country back into the climate of Stalin&rsquos great purges.

Tsesler&rsquos art of protest contains seeds of hope too. One image has the historic red-and-white flag &ldquoloading&rdquo over the current green and red flag, a process that is 97% complete. The number is not without symbolism too: it refers to Charter 97, a declaration for democracy in Belarus (which itself was a reference to the famous Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia).

A Color(ful) Revolution: Symbols and History

Lukashenko has managed to win previous elections by &ldquodisappearing&rdquo opponents, having them arrested and beaten, and/or forcing them into exile. When elections were held and Lukashenko was declared the winner, protests broke out but police would then break up the protests.

The 2020 election followed this established narrative. Three main opposition candidates announced their intentions to run against Lukashenko: two were arrested, another excluded.

What followed next marked an important difference.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya registered and became the consensus protest vote. She is a former English teacher and the wife of one potential candidate who is currently under arrest, a popular blogger and YouTuber named Sergei Tikhanovsky. Veranika Tsapkala, the wife of an exiled opposition leader, and Maria Kalesnikava, the campaign manager of another presidential candidate, joined Tikhanovskaya.

Lukashenko did not take the women seriously, repeatedly saying they had no place in politics. In an interview shortly before the election, after dismissing his opponent as someone who had just cooked and put the children to bed, Lukashenko concluded: &ldquoAnd now there&rsquos supposed to be a debate about some issues.&rdquo

Clearly, he underestimated the women in his country. Before the elections, Lukashenko declared that the constitution was &ldquonot meant for a woman&rdquo and then &ldquoclarified&rdquo this statement by stating he did not think a woman could handle the responsibilities of the presidency.

One of the first symbols of anti-Lukashenko opposition in 2020 came in the form of a painting of a woman, Chaim Soutine&rsquos Eva. Soutine was born in 1893 in Smilavichy, near Minsk, but emigrated to France in 1913. The wealthy banker and philanthropist Viktar Babaryka purchased Eva in 2013 as part of his ongoing efforts to &ldquorepatriate&rdquo Belarusian artworks. In May 2020, Babaryka announced he would run against Lukashenko and quickly gained popularity.

True to form, the Lukashenko government arrested Babaryka and charged him with financial crimes, including an alleged attempt to smuggle his paintings out of the country. When news broke, Belarusians turned Eva into a meme, depicting her in jail and dressed in prison garb, among other uses of her image.

Belarusian women thus acted as important political and symbolic leaders in the protests.

Lukashenko has also proven retrograde in his use of history. A former Red Army soldier, collective farm head, and Communist Party member, he swept to power in 1994 after widespread disillusionment with the first wave of post-Soviet reforms. A year later, Lukashenko oversaw a referendum to restore the Soviet-era flag and emblem of Belarus, one officially established in 1951, a bicolor flag with two-thirds green and one-third red.

Over time, what was once a Soviet-era symbol became associated with Lukashenko. The red-and-white symbol came to symbolize opposition to the dictator. As the former BNR flag became more visible in anti-Lukashenko protests, the Belarusian leader played up its use during World War II by Belarusian collaborators, thus ignoring its earlier use.

Belarusian artists also engaged with the clash over these historical symbols during the protests. The artist Vladimir Tsesler has posted numerous representations of Belarusian flag symbolism on his Instagram page, turning Lukashenko&rsquos version of the two flags&rsquo meanings on their head. Tsesler&rsquos reimaginings of the red and white flag invoke positive emotions: a red heart appears in the middle of one flag while in another, the red line consists of a line of protesters.

By contrast, the green and red Soviet-era emblem is cast in entirely negative tones. The colors peek out from under a balaclava worn by a policeman in one of his images in another, a policeman&rsquos baton consists of a red handle and green end. The starkest version of all has the Lukashenko green and red flag hanging on a clothesline, drenched in blood.

Tsesler has taken the historical associations connected to these symbols and placed them within the context of the ongoing protests. The black and white, good versus evil conflict is red and white versus red and green.

One of the most striking examples of how internet art has flourished and how it has reappropriated the red-and-white flag into the symbol of opposition to Lukashenko can be found in the online &ldquoMuseum of Flags.&rdquo Every region, every city, every region within a city, every diasporic region, and much, much more (even Pierce Brosnan): all have their own version of the red-and-white flag, many of them created by Tsesler.

Rufina Bazlova&rsquos striking work, also on Instagram, makes powerful use of traditional Belarusian folk colors in the form of vyshyvanka, traditional embroidery, weaving in scenes of protest, violence, and historical allusions. Bazlova&rsquos entire cycle is called &ldquoThe History of Belarusian Vyzhyvanka,&rdquo a pun on the words &ldquoembroider [the vyshyvanka]&rdquo and &ldquosurvive [vyzhyvat&rsquo].&rdquo

Rufina Bazlova, Svetlana is My President. From the artist&rsquos Instagram page (left). Rufina Bazlova, Demonstration. From the artist&rsquos Instagram page (right). Both used with permission.

As she has stated, &ldquoBelarusian vyshyvanky are a specific code for recording information about the lives of people, the nation, and whoever wears the embroidery. It is a sort of coded history of the people.&rdquo As to the project that involves the pun, Rufina puts it best: &ldquoThis is what my people are doing, they are surviving.&rdquo

The author thanks Sasha Razor for reading a draft version of this article.

Suggested Reading

Razor, Sasha. “The Lesson of Belarus.” Los Angeles Review of Books 18 August 2020.

On the history of Belarus:

Beorn, Waitman Wade. Marching into Darkness: The Wehrmacht and the Holocaust in Belarus. Harvard University Press, 2014.

Gapova, Elena. “The Woman Question and National Projects in Soviet Byelorussia and Western Belarus (1921–1939)” in J. Gehmacher, E. Harvey, S. Kemlein eds., Zwischen Kriegen. Nationen, Nationalismen und Geschlechterverhältnisse in Mittel- und Osteuropa, 1918-1939

(Osnabrück: fibre-Verlag, 2004): 105-128.

Rudling, Per Anders. "The Beginnings of Modern Belarus: Identity, Nation, and Politics in a European Borderland: 2015 Annual London Lecture on Belarusian Studies." Journal of Belarusian Studies 7, no. 3 (2015): 115-127.

________. The Rise and Fall of Belarusian Nationalism, 1906–1931. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015.

Walke, Anika. Pioneers and Partisans: An Oral History of Nazi Genocide in Belorussia. Oxford University Press, 2015.

Lewis, Simon. "The “Partisan Republic”: Colonial Myths and Memory Wars in Belarus." In War and Memory in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Palgrave Macmillan (2017): 371-396.

Marples, David R. "History, Memory, and the Second World War in Belarus." Australian Journal of Politics &amp History 58, no. 3 (2012): 437-448.

________. 'Our Glorious Past': Lukashenka's Belarus and the Great Patriotic War.Ibidem, 2014.

Mort, Valzhyna. Music for the Dead and Resurrected: Poems. FSG, 2020.

Oushakine, Serguei Alex. "Postcolonial Estrangements: Claiming a Space between Stalin and Hitler." In Rites of Place: Public Commemoration in Russia and Eastern Europe. (2013): 285-315.

Rudling, Per Anders. "The Khatyn Massacre in Belorussia: A historical controversy revisited." Holocaust and Genocide Studies 26, no. 1 (2012): 29-58.

________. "“Unhappy Is the Person Who Has No Motherland”: National Ideology and History Writing in Lukashenka’s Belarus." In War and Memory in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017: 71-105.

On gender and nationhood in Belarus:

Gapova, Elena. "On nation, gender, and class formation in Belarus… and elsewhere in the post-Soviet world." Nationalities Papers 30, no. 4 (2002): 639-662.

________. "Things to Have for a Belarusian: Rebranding the Nation via Online Participation." Digital Icons 17 (2017): 47-71.


Park was assassinated in 1979, and another general, Chun Doo-hwan took power, putting the country under strict military rule. An armed uprising by students and others to restore democratic rule led to many civilian deaths at the army’s hands.

Martial law was lifted in 1981, and Chun was (indirectly) elected president under a new constitution, which established the Fifth Republic.

By 1987, popular dissatisfaction with the government and mounting international pressure pushed Chun from office in advance of another revised constitution, which allowed direct election of the president for the first time.

Roh Tae-woo, a former army general who won the country’s first free presidential election in 1987, further liberalized the political system and tackled corruption within the government.

With Mass Protests, South Koreans Wield a Familiar Weapon in a New Era

We called it the Yonsei Beach Club. It convened the last time South Koreans exploded in protest and forced a government to capitulate, in 1987, when a small band of reporters and photographers would assemble to chronicle the daily demonstrations by students at Yonsei University in Seoul.

Then as now, mass protest was a powerful weapon deployed by enraged citizens who felt they had nowhere else to turn but the streets. Thirty years later, it’s clear how far Korean democracy has advanced. Then, South Korea was a dictatorship, protests were outlawed and the threat of torture, imprisonment and martial law ever-present.

The emblem of the Beach Club was a gas mask, because the throngs of riot police in Darth Vader masks lobbed tear gas canisters at students whose weapons were moral force, rocks and homemade firebombs.

Students have long been at the vanguard of South Korea’s robust history of protest, drawing on deep-rooted Confucian traditions that elevated scholars as guardians of morality. They helped topple a government in 1960 and rebelled in the southern city of Kwangju in 1980, only to be massacred by a military junta led by Chun Doo-hwan, who later made himself president.

The death under torture of a 21-year-old student, Park Jong-chul, in January 1987 helped set off the wave of demonstrations against Mr. Chun’s rule. South Korea’s dictators had offered economic growth and political repression its people were clamoring for more.

By the spring, the demonstrations at Yonsei had become a daily ritual. The students would assemble, tying kerchiefs around their mouths the police would pounce and the tear gas would eventually drive the protesters back. Yonsei produced its own martyr, 21-year-old Lee Han-yol, who died after a tear-gas canister hit him in the head.

Gradually, the protests spilled into downtown Seoul and across the country in a rhythm both violent and predictable.


The morning would dawn, with spent tear gas canisters and shards of rocks littering the streets, the acrid fumes still stinging skin and burning lungs.

The riot police would muster near the police stations, young and vulnerable without their threatening masks, drinking tea and wiping the sweat from their foreheads. Young goons known as “skeleton troops,” trained in martial arts and feared for the brutal beatings they inflicted on protesters, would mass.

But in the end they were no match for the tens of thousands of Koreans who set fear aside and confronted the police.

I saw an older woman, hair neatly coifed, beat a policeman with her handbag. A young father hoisted his little girl on his shoulder, carefully affixing a surgical mask to her face, an imperfect shield from the gas. A student in Kwangju bit his finger and wrote protest slogans in his own blood.

Ordinary citizens broke up sidewalk tiles and handed them to students to hurl at the riot police. Office workers, in the past too frightened to risk their jobs, came out at night and honked horns in solidarity. People threw water from rooftops to try to douse the gas.

It is hard to overstate the repression and fear. The cat-and-mouse game between police and protesters would continue into the night. With nightly propaganda airing on television, before cellphones or the web, truth was elusive and rumors flew.

One night the lights at the hotel went out, and a few of us ran out into the street, convinced that martial law had been imposed — only to find that a nearby Christmas display had caused a blackout.

In a scene still indelible after so many years, I sat in a courtroom as the torturers of the young student went on trial. It was just a week or so since the protests had forced the government to yield. Months before, the police had crushed the student’s neck against the side of a bathtub as they repeatedly pushed him under water.

At the trial, his father lunged at the three policemen, small and scared now, protected by more than 50 guards. Screams broke out and a purse flew through the air at the judges as the light sentence was read. Women whose sons were still in jail stormed the bus carrying the policemen, throwing bottles against the windows. Plainclothes police shoved the four of them onto the concrete, where they lay unconscious.

By contrast, the protests this year have been peaceful, allowed to proceed unimpeded by the strong arm of the government. South Korea has come far, but as these last months showed, it is still an imperfect democracy.

Laws are still on the books that can be used as tools to stifle dissent. South Korea remains shadowed by legitimate fears of North Korean aggression and espionage, but those were and are exploited by the government.

A wide-ranging national security law was used 30 years ago as a pretext for repression by contrast, President Park Geun-hye, whose impeachment was backed by legislators on Friday, disbanded a left-wing party and arrested its leaders under the auspices of the law.

In the 1980s, the Korean Central Intelligence Agency had plants in every government office. Those appear to be gone, but its successor agency, the National Intelligence Service, still keeps tabs on government agencies and was accused of launching smear campaigns against Ms. Park’s opponents during her campaign in 2012.

Ms. Park used South Korea’s laws criminalizing defamation to charge and imprison government critics and the press. Any South Korean president retains control of police, prosecutors and tax collectors. Endemic corruption is a scourge and erodes public faith in the integrity of government.

Watching the protests from afar, at a distance of so many years, I was reminded of what I’d felt as a young foreign correspondent: awe and respect for the courage, tenacity and passion of the South Korean public.

This is not a tame society, for all the comforts its public has won in the years since. This may be the land of Psy and Gangnam style, a country so wired that some of its children are sent to boot camps to wean them from internet addiction.

But in a capital I’m told I would find unrecognizably sleek and affluent, in a system still encumbered by remnants of the security state, I recognize something I came to know well years ago: Politicians buck the popular will at their peril.

A Brief History of Protest Fashion

What does an activist look like? Throughout history, organizers and protesters have used clothing to give visual currency to different sociopolitical movements around the world. Some wear uniforms and some dress to express their individuality. Some are more casual and some are utilitarian. While there’s no rule book on how one should show up to a protest, fashion as messaging has been an important factor since the earliest days of the “dressed to the nines” activists of the civil rights movement to the more recent slogan-clad T-shirt-wearers of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Fashion at protests has seen many evolutions, but the messaging has always been a clear indication of whom you stand with and what you stand for.

Let’s start with the civil rights movement. In the mid 1950s to 1960s, Black people in America fought against injustices and inequality, including racial segregation and disenfranchisement. In an effort to combat the racial stereotypes — negative ideas that Black people were lazy, inept, poor, and primitive — that further contributed to discrimination, some leaders of the civil rights movement upheld nonviolent resistance methods, which included sit-ins, freedom rides, bus boycotts, and marches. These methods were intended to dignify the movement and humanize the thousands of participants across America fighting to be fully integrated into a system that they were being denied. Fashion had to play a big role in communicating that. A sharp-dressed, modest Black body worked as a tool in conjunction with the passive efforts of nonviolent protest. Women who participated in the movement wore neatly pressed hair, cardigans, button-ups, and stockings under skirts with modest hemlines — the distinct vision that may come to mind when you think “Sunday best.” The men did the same, marching in dark-colored suits over starched, white undershirts and ties. Black Americans were considered to be at the bottom of the social hierarchy, so it meant a great deal that what they wore could challenge that.

March 1965: Civil rights campaigner Dr Martin Luther King (1929 - 1968) with his wife Coretta Scott King, at a black voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery. (Photo by William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images)

In the journal article “Dressing for Freedom,” author Abena L. Mhoon states, “When arrested on December 4, 1966, [Rosa Parks] was described as a soft-spoken, middle-aged bespectacled impeccably dressed woman in tailored clothing. Mrs. Parks’ quiet style and dignified bearing were stressed by protest organizers. Nothing showy or ostentatious was permitted.…Breaking down the social, economic, and political barriers that in the past had prevented African Americans from having access to the American dream would not come about if people did not look serious and business-like.”

Rosa Parks seated toward the front of the bus, Montgomery, Alabama, 1956. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

Denim also played a significant role in dressing for the civil rights movement. What is now considered a coveted textile was once a symbol of the Black freedom struggle. Previously, denim overalls and jeans had been the standard uniforms for Black sharecroppers in the rural South, an image that the Black middle class felt that it needed to alienate to appear respectable. “In the early 1960s the Black popular press was particularly invested in promoting and reproducing an image of Black middle-class leisure and indulgence,” Tanisha C. Ford writes in the article “SNCC Women, Denim, and the Politics of Dress.” According to Ford, young activists like the women and men in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) reclaimed denim workwear to align themselves with the working classes and to make a bold statement about class and respectability politics. It was also much more practical for organizers to mobilize in denim as it was more durable than suit and dress fabric.

March 1965: Dr Martin Luther King (1929 - 1968) leading a civil rights march in Alabama. (Photo by William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images)

Sartorially, the Black Panther Party was the antithesis of the civil rights movement. Black Nationalist groups adapted many aspects of cultural garb from Africa, like headwraps and ankh necklaces, but younger Black Nationalists like Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, both founders of the Black Panther Party, opposed that aesthetic because of its “opportunistic cultural practitioners operating as front men to further exploit Black people and impede on the real revolutionary struggle,” Mary Vargas wrote in the article “Fashion Statement or Political Statement: The Use of Fashion to Express Black Pride During the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements of the 1960s.” The Black Panther uniform consisted of black leather jackets, powder blue shirts, black pants, shoes, gloves, and the infamous black beret, which was picked after Newton and Seale watched a movie about the French resistance to Nazis during World War II. According to Vargas, “The resisters donned black berets and they felt that it was a strong symbol of militancy, and such militancy was what they wished the Black Panther Party to convey.” In the same way that the civil rights leaders used dress as a way to convey an antithetical image to white people’s preconceived notion around Black livelihood, the Black Panthers used dress to send a message about Black pride and liberation.

View of a line of Black Panther Party members as they demonstrate, arms folded, outside the New York County Criminal Court (at 100 Court Street), New York, New York, April 11, 1969. The demonstration was about the 'Panther 21' trial, over jailed Black Panther members accused of shooting at police stations and a bombing all of whom were eventually acquitted. (Photo by David Fenton/Getty Images)

At the same time, the women’s liberation movement used fashion as a way to subvert society’s ideals about what women could wear, look like, and achieve. It was the topic of objectification and unattainable beauty standards for women that inspired the Miss America Protest of 1968, where women’s liberation activists demonstrated at the headquarters of the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Protesters dumped items they believed were forced on women to maintain peak femininity — like bras, lipstick, stockings, and girdles — into a trash can.

On the Atlantic City Boardwalk, demonstrators, some waving high heels or underwear, protest the Miss America beauty pageant, Atlantic City, New Jersey, September 7, 1968. The protest, organized by the New York Radical Women group, was known as 'No More Miss America,' after a pamphlet written and distributed by the group. (Photo by Bev Grant/Getty Images)

“Second-wave feminist imagery can be tricky territory, and no, it’s not homogeneous,” says fashion historian Sonya Abrego. “There was certainly, often in the hopes of greater physical freedom and a desire to be taken seriously, (albeit in light of dominant white, hetero, male standards) a push towards ‘sensible/rational’ clothing that tended to disguise femininity and skewed masculine.”

Moving into the 1970s, women on the front lines of the movement were eliminating the sartorial restrictions of days past and were opting for denim (in all forms, lots of it) wide-leg trousers, miniskirts with bloomers, and stiff-collar blouses adorned in geometric and psychedelic prints. Experimental styles of the ’70s allowed women to challenge the idea of what society regarded as a “feminine” dress. As women’s presence in the workplace grew, so did the embrace of workwear: pantsuits, work separates, and even Diane von Furstenberg’s wildly popular wrap dress, which could take a woman’s look from the office to the streets to a night out.

In recent years, protest attire has gotten more casual. During Occupy Wall Street in 2011, people showed up in jeans, T-shirts, hoodies, and shorts, making it easier to mobilize in their cities. This unassuming style of dress strayed from the idea that participants needed to unify through a particular uniform. However, one of the prominent symbols of resistance during Occupy Wall Street was the Guy Fawkes mask. The mask, which is now a ubiquitous symbol within many movements, was worn to represent the antiestablishment, or anti-government, sentiments of the “99%.” That particular interpretation used on the masks was developed by illustrator David Lloyd and was popularized by the film V for Vendetta, which centers themes of oppression, totalitarianism, and fascism.

In 2017 at the Women’s March on Washington, the pink “pussy hat” was chosen in part as a protest against vulgar comments Donald Trump made about the freedom he felt to grab women’s genitals, as well as to “de-stigmatize the word ‘pussy’ and transform it into one of empowerment,” according to the Pussyhat Project’s website.

“The pussy hats were effective for communicating solidarity at the time,” says Abrego. “Knitting, like most textile arts, is largely connected to the history of women’s work and domestic labor, so the crafting of the hats takes on some extra significance there.” In addition to knitted hats, “sartorial messaging,” as The New York Times describes it, made way for the embellishment of shirts, pins, and patches with bold statements such as “My pussy my choice,” “No,” “Herstory,” and a sea of other slogans that resonated with onlookers as well as fellow marchers.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 21: Demonstrators attend the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)

When the Black Lives Matter movement gained significant traction after the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner in 2014, community-wide suffering did not stop protesters from marching the streets in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. Since the movement’s inception, protesters have opted for practicality and protection, as historically, Black organizing has often been met with violent and deadly pushback from the police.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, protesters have had to wear face masks (or other items like shirts and bandanas to cover their faces) to protect themselves from the virus, as well as goggles and other protective gear to offset harm from weapons like rubber bullets and tear gas.

T-shirts with political messaging have also become the norm. “The T-shirt is one of the foremost sartorial items being used by Black people who are a part of the Movement for Black Lives. Not only are the T-shirts being worn during protests, but they are worn in a variety of sites,” says Rikki Byrd, founder of the Fashion and Race Syllabus. The shirts usually have statements like “We Can’t Breathe,” or names and images of people who have died by state-sanctioned violence. Since the ’60s and well into the ’70s, T-shirts have been a popular, fairly inexpensive medium for a message, as they can be mass-produced and quickly circulated. Beyond being worn to signal a person’s alignment with the movement, they are also being used to fundraise. One example is the “They Have Names” T-shirt created by Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss. He donated funds from T-shirt sales to the ACLU. Another example is a T-shirt by artists Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and Texas Isaiah that, according to the Cut, included the names of Black cis and trans people who were killed by sexual violence. They donated the proceeds to the Trans Women of Color Collective.

PALMETTO, FL - AUGUST 31: A view of the Indiana Fever prior to a game against the Chicago Sky on August 31, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

And those are just some of the examples from history that have used fashion as a powerful means of communication. Whether the messaging is obvious or nuanced, It makes way for people to express the issues that matter to them most in the ways they see fit.


The Dakota Access Pipeline, a part of the Bakken pipeline project, is a 1,172-mile-long (1,886 km) underground oil pipeline project in the United States. The pipeline was planned by Dakota Access, LLC, a subsidiary of the Dallas, Texas corporation Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. It begins in the Bakken oil fields in Northwest North Dakota and travels in a more or less straight line southeast, through South Dakota and Iowa, ending at the oil terminal near Patoka, Illinois. [29] [30] According to court records, the pipeline was due for delivery on January 1, 2017. [31]

Routing the pipeline across the Missouri River near Bismarck was rejected because of the route's proximity to municipal water sources residential areas and road, wetland, and waterway crossings. The Bismarck route would also have been 11 miles (18 km) longer. [32] The alternative selected by the Corps of Engineers crosses underneath the Missouri River half a mile (800 m) from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and parallels the existing Northern Border Pipeline. A spill could have major adverse effects on the waters that the Tribe and individuals in the area rely upon. [33] Using a permit process that treated the pipeline as a series of small construction sites, the pipeline was granted an exemption from the environmental review required by the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. [34]

However, citing potential effects on the Native tribes, most notably the Standing Rock Sioux, in March and April 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Interior (DOI), and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a formal Environmental Impact Assessment and issue an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Noting that the water system serving Fort Yates on the Standing Rock Reservation was only 10 miles (16 km) downstream of where the pipeline would cross Lake Oahe and the Missouri River, the EPA recommended that the Army Corps revise its Environmental Assessment and open up a second public comment period. [35] The DOI also expressed concerns about the pipeline's proximity to the tribe's water source as the U.S. reserved waters of sufficient quantity and quality to serve the purposes of the Reservation, that more than 800,000 acres of land in trust for the Tribe could be impacted by a leak or spill, and a spill could impact the waters that the Tribe and individual tribal members residing in that area rely upon for drinking and other purposes. [35]

As of September 2016, the United States Department of Justice had received more than 33,000 petitions to review all permits and order a full review of the project's environmental effects. [36]

Sacred Stone Camp was founded by Standing Rock's Historic Preservation Officer, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, on April 1, 2016, as a center for cultural preservation and spiritual resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline. [37] [38] In the spring and early summer of 2016, Allard and other Indigenous leaders focused on media outreach, resulting in tribal delegations and individuals coming to stand with them from all over the country and, eventually, the world. [39] As the numbers grew beyond what Allard's land could support, an overflow camp was also established nearby, which came to be known as the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ camp (the Lakȟótiyapi name for the Great Sioux Nation or Seven Fires Council). [40] In September, Allard said that 26 of the 380 archaeological sites that face desecration along the entire pipeline route were held sacred to the Sioux Nations, the Arikara, the Mandan, and the Northern Cheyenne, comparing it to genocide. [37]

By late September NBC News reported that members of more than 300 federally recognized Native American tribes were residing in the three main camps, alongside an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 pipeline resistance supporters. Several thousand more gathered at the camps on weekends. [7] [41] [42] As winter approached numbers grew lower, but the protesters winterized and prepared for an indefinite stay. In October another camp, called "Winter Camp", was established via trespassing on private property [43] directly in the proposed pipeline's path on the property recently purchased by Energy Transfer Partners. Citing eminent domain, [44] the Native American protesters declared that the land rightly belongs to them under the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. Though the initial territory agreed to in the treaty was later broken up into smaller reservations, the treaty was never nullified and was being invoked as law. [45] On October 27, police in riot gear with crowd control equipment and supported by National Guard members removed the protesters from the new encampment. [46] [47]

In September 2014, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal (SRST) council met with Energy Transfer representatives for an initial consultation, which was more than a month before the pipeline's first formal submission to the Army Corps. [48] At the beginning of the meeting, Councilman David Archambault II indicated the tribe's opposition to the project within treaty boundaries. Additional SRST representatives voiced opposition and concerns about the pipeline. [49] [50]

Pipeline protests were reported as early as October 2014, when Iowa community and environmental activists presented 2,300 petitions to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad asking him to sign a state executive order to stop it. [51] Voicing concerns for damage to wildlife habitat and sacred sites, the Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa (Meskwaki Nation) also objected to the route and formally lodged their opposition in early 2015. [52] Tribal members were also among those who opposed the Keystone XL pipeline. [53] In a letter to the Iowa Utilities Board, Tribal chairwoman Judith Bender wrote that there were "environmental concerns about the land and drinking water. it will only take one mistake and life in Iowa will change for the next thousands of years." [52]

The tribe sued for an injunction on the grounds that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had failed to conduct a proper environmental and cultural impact study. Protests had escalated at the pipeline site in North Dakota, with numbers swelling from just a bare handful of people to hundreds and then thousands over the summer. [54]

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe believes that the pipeline would put the Missouri River, the water source for the reservation, at risk. They pointed out two recent spills on other pipeline systems, a 2010 pipeline spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, which cost over a billion to clean up with significant contamination remaining, and a 2015 Bakken crude oil spill into the Yellowstone River in Montana. [55] [56] [57] The Tribe was also concerned that the pipeline route may run through sacred Sioux sites. In August 2016 protests were held, halting a portion of the pipeline near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. [58] [59] Protests continued and drew indigenous people from throughout North America, as well as other supporters. A number of planned arrests occurred when people locked themselves to heavy machinery. [60]

On August 23, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe released a list of 87 tribal governments who wrote resolutions, proclamations and letters of support stating their solidarity with Standing Rock and the Sioux people. [61] Since then, many more Native American organizations, politicians, environmental groups and civil rights groups joined the effort in North Dakota, including the Black Lives Matter movement, indigenous leaders from the Amazon Basin of South America, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka, and many more. [62] The Washington Post called it a "National movement for Native Americans." [7] [63] As of September, the protest constituted the single largest gathering of Native Americans in more than 100 years. [64] [41]

United Nations presentation Edit

On September 20, 2016, Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault II addressed the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, where he called "upon all parties to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline." Citing the 1851 Treaty of Traverse des Sioux and 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, two treaties ratified by the U.S. Senate that recognize the Sioux's national sovereignty, Archambault told the Council that "the oil companies and the government of the United States have failed to respect our sovereign rights." [65]

On September 22, 2016, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a United Nations expert on the rights of indigenous peoples, admonished the U.S., saying, "The tribe was denied access to information and excluded from consultations at the planning stage of the project, and environmental assessments failed to disclose the presence and proximity of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation." She also responded to the rights of pipeline protesters, saying, "The U.S. authorities should fully protect and facilitate the right to freedom of peaceful assembly of indigenous peoples, which plays a key role in empowering their ability to claim other rights." [66]

Security confrontations and harsh treatment of protesters Edit

On September 3, 2016, during Labor Day weekend, the Dakota Access Pipeline brought in a private security firm when the company used bulldozers to dig up part of the pipeline route that contained possible burial sites and culturally significant artifacts it was subject to a pending injunction motion. The bulldozers arrived within a day after the tribe filed legal action. [67] Energy Transfer bulldozers cut a two-mile (3200 m) long, 150-foot (45 m) wide path through the contested area. [68] [69]

When protesters crossed the perimeter fence onto private property to stop the bulldozers, they were confronted with pepper spray and guard dogs. [70] At least six protesters were treated for dog bites, and an estimated 30 were pepper-sprayed before the guards and their dogs left the scene in trucks. A woman that had taken part in the incident stated, "The cops watched the whole thing from up on the hills. It felt like they were trying to provoke us into being violent when we're peaceful." [69] The incident was filmed by Amy Goodman and a crew from Democracy Now! [68] [71] Footage shows several people with dog bites and a dog with blood on its muzzle. [69] [72] [73]

Frost Kennels of Hartville, Ohio, acknowledged that they were involved in the incident on September 3. [74] Executive director for Private Investigator Security Guard Services Geoff Dutton said Frost Kennels and its owner, Bob Frost, were not licensed by the state of Ohio to provide security services or guard dogs. Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said they were investigating both sides in the incident, including wounds inflicted by the dogs, and that they had no prior knowledge of the use of dogs until a 9-1-1 call was made. When asked why the deputies who witnessed the incident did not intervene, Kirchmeier cited officer security concerns, [74] and stated that it was "more like a riot than a protest" and that there was an investigation into "the incident and individuals who organized and participated in this unlawful event." [75]

After viewing footage of the attack, a law enforcement consultant who trains police dogs called it "absolutely appalling" and "reprehensible". "Taking bite dogs and putting them at the end of a leash to intimidate, threaten and prevent crime is not appropriate." [74] A former K-9 officer for the Grand Forks Police Department who now owns a security firm that uses dogs for drug detection said, "It reminded me of the civil rights movement back in the '60s. I didn't think it was appropriate. They were overwhelmed and it just wasn't proper use of the dogs." [74]

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota spoke out against the use of dogs and pepper spray and asked that the state officials "treat everyone fairly and equally." [74] Speaking on September 4, Ojibwe activist and former Green Party vice presidential candidate Winona LaDuke said, "North Dakota regulators are really, I would say, in bed with the oil industry and so they have looked the other way." [68]

As of mid-October, there had been over 140 arrests. Some protesters who were arrested for misdemeanors and taken to the Morton County jail reported what they considered harsh and unusual treatment. Sara Jumping Eagle, a physician on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, said that she was required to remove all of her clothing and "squat and cough" when she was arrested for disorderly conduct. In another such case, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, who founded Sacred Stone Camp, said that when her daughter was arrested and taken into custody she was "strip-searched in front of multiple male officers, then left for hours in her cell, naked and freezing." Cody Hall from Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota also reported being strip-searched. He was held for four days without bail or bond and then charged with two misdemeanors. [76]

Actress Shailene Woodley, arrested on October 10 along with 27 others, also said she was strip-searched, adding, "Never did it cross my mind that while trying to protect clean water, trying to ensure a future where our children have access to an element essential for human survival, would I be strip-searched. I was just shocked." [77] Amnesty International spoke out against the use of strip searches and said that they had sent a letter to the Morton County Sheriff's Department expressing concern about the degree of force used against people taking part in the protests. They sent a delegation of human rights observers to monitor law enforcement's response to the protests. [78]

Protesters said they were blasted with high-pitched sound cannons and described being held in "what appeared to be" dog kennels, with identifying numbers written on their arms. [79] Linda Black Elk tweeted, "Our sisters who got arrested were stripped, marked with numbers, and held in dog kennels. Sound familiar?" [80]

In December 2016, it was reported by Charlie May that Dakota Access LLC had hired the firm TigerSwan to provide security during the protest. [81] In May 2017, internal TigerSwan documents leaked to The Intercept and other documents obtained through public records requests revealed a close collaboration between the pipeline company and local, state, and federal law enforcement as they carried out "military-style counterterrorism measures" to suppress the protesters. TigerSwan also collected information used to assist prosecutors in building cases against protesters, and used social media in an attempt to sway public support for the pipeline. One of the released documents called the pipeline opposition movement "an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component" that operated along a "jihadist insurgency model". [82] The Intercept reported that "Energy Transfer Partners has continued to retain TigerSwan long after most of the anti-pipeline campers left North Dakota, and the most recent TigerSwan reports emphasize the threat of growing activism around other pipeline projects across the country." [82]

Police move to clear camp Edit

On October 27, 2016 police from several agencies, including North Dakota state troopers, the National Guard, and other law enforcement agencies from surrounding states, began an intensive operation to clear out a protest camp and blockades along Highway 1806. [83] [ citation needed ] The Morton County Sheriff's Department said in a statement: "Protesters' escalated unlawful behavior this weekend by setting up illegal roadblocks, trespassing onto private property and establishing an encampment, has forced law enforcement to respond at this time. I can't stress it enough, this is a public safety issue. We cannot have protesters blocking county roads, blocking state highways, or trespassing on private property." [46]

A Seattle Times journalist present at the confrontation described it as "scary". On the PBS Newshour, she said that she had spent the previous night in the camp "with tribal members who were singing their death songs. I mean, they were very worried about the possibility of violence. And who wouldn't be? You have seen law enforcement marshaled from six states, armored personnel carriers, hundreds and hundreds of law enforcement officers with concussion grenades, mace, Tasers, batons. And they used all of it. I mean, it was frightening to watch." She said that the confrontation ended the following day and said, "the law enforcement officers had advance[d] more than 100 yards with five armored personnel carriers side by side, hundreds of law enforcement officers advancing on them. And it finally took an elder to actually walk by himself in between the two lines, stand there, face his people, and say: 'Go home. We're here to fight the pipeline, not these people, and we can only win this with prayer.'" [84] [85] [86] [87]

Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza contrasted the aggressive police action with the treatment of the organizers of a standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge (acquitted of federal charges on the same day as the police raid of the camp), [88] saying "If you're white, you can occupy federal property . and get found not guilty. No teargas, no tanks, no rubber bullets . If you're indigenous and fighting to protect our earth, and the water we depend on to survive, you get tear gassed, media blackouts, tanks and all that." [89]

Backwater Bridge and removal of remaining protesters Edit

On the evening of November 20, protesters attempted to open Backwater Bridge on Highway 1806, which had been blocked since October 27. The bridge is about a mile (1600 m) south of where the pipeline developer plans to drill. According to the sheriff's department, the bridge was closed for safety reasons "due to damage caused after protesters set numerous fires" on it on October 27. But the protesters believe that the police used the closure to "lock [them] in" and that the closure blocked access for emergency vehicles coming from the north. [90]

According to news reports, the police launched an attack on the protesters with water cannons in 28 °F (−2 °C) weather, along with teargas, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades, injuring hundreds. [91] The police said the protesters had been "very aggressive" and that the water was used to put out multiple fires they had set, while the protesters said the fires were peaceful bonfires used to keep warm. [90] A number of videos posted on social media show protesters being doused with continuous streams of water. Initially the Morton County Sheriff's Office said the water was used only to put out fires, but the following day Sheriff Kirchmeier corrected that statement, saying, "Some of the water was used to repel some of the protest activities" and adding that it was "sprayed more as a mist and we didn't want to get it directly on them but we wanted to make sure to use it as a measure to keep everybody safe." [92]

A woman's arm was seriously injured by what she and supporters claim was an explosive flash-bang grenade thrown by law enforcement, but which law enforcement suggest may have been an exploding propane canister. The victim's father stated in a press conference that his daughter had seen a police officer throw the explosive device directly at her as she was backing away. [93] The Morton County Sheriff's Department denied using concussion grenades, and reported that protesters were throwing expended propane canisters at police during this period. [94] [95] [96] [97] [98] [99] [100] [ excessive citations ] Law enforcement, including the ATF and North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, are investigating the incident. [101] [ needs update? ]

By mid January 2017 the protest camp had dwindled to a few hundred people due to the construction work stoppage and harsh winter weather. Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault called for the camp to disband because of the weather and the possibility of contamination of the river with garbage and debris during the spring flood. He asked people to clean up the area and to leave. [102] In January 2017, it was reported that the cost of policing the pipeline protests in North Dakota had surpassed $22 million. [103] In February 2017, amid concerns that warmer weather would accelerate flooding of the area, removal of garbage and debris from the campsite began to prevent the contamination of the river. Archambault indicated that funds from the $6 million in donations the tribe received to support its fight would be used to clean up the garbage, building material and human waste at the camp. The tribe began coordinating cleanup of the site in January 2017. [104]

On February 22, 2017, the protest site was cleared. Although many left voluntarily, ten people were arrested. [105] On February 23, National Guard and law enforcement officers evicted the remaining protesters. Thirty-three people were arrested. [106] After the protest site was abandoned, sanitation crews cleared garbage from the protest [107] this included abandoned cars and human waste. [108] Also abandoned were 12 dogs. [109] [110] North Dakota Department of Emergency Services estimated that about 48 million pounds of garbage was removed [111] the cost of cleaning up the protest site was about $1 million. [109] [112]

On July 27, 2016, two days after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the Environmental Assessment with a finding of “no significant impact”, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, supported by EarthJustice, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to stop the pipeline. The tribe also sought a preliminary injunction. [113] [114] [115]

On September 9, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denied the motion, noting, "[T]he Corps has documented dozens of attempts to engage Standing Rock in consultations to identify historical resources at Lake Oahe and other PCN crossings. Suffice it to say that the Tribe largely refused to engage in consultations." [116]

Later the same day, a joint statement was issued by the US Departments of Justice, Army, and Interior temporarily halting the project on federal land bordering or under the Lake Oahe reservoir. The US federal government asked the company for a "voluntary pause" on construction near that area until further study was done on the region extending 20 miles (32 km) around Lake Oahe. In closing the agency representatives said:

Finally, we fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely. In recent days, we have seen thousands of demonstrators come together peacefully, with support from scores of sovereign tribal governments, to exercise their First Amendment rights and to voice heartfelt concerns about the environment and historic, sacred sites. It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest. [115] [117]

Energy Transfer Partners rejected the request to voluntarily halt construction on all surrounding private land and resumed construction within 48 hours. [118]

On September 13, chairman and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners Kelcy Warren responded to the federal government's request, saying concerns about the pipeline's impact on the water supply were "unfounded." Warren said that "multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route". They did not indicate that they would voluntarily cease work on the pipeline. Warren wrote that the company will meet with officials in Washington "to understand their position and reiterate our commitment to bring the Dakota Access Pipeline into operation." [119]

On October 5, federal appeals judges heard arguments over whether to stop work on the pipeline a ruling was not expected for several weeks. At that time the Army Corps of Engineers had not yet made a final decision on whether to grant an easement to build under the Missouri River. Under questioning, a pipeline attorney said that "if the court allowed it, the company would continue building up to the lake's edge even before the easement decision, because each extra month of delay will cost the company more than $80 million". [31]

Army Corps of Engineers delays decision Edit

On November 14, the Army Corps of Engineers said it needed more time to study the impact of the plan. In a news release, they said: "The Army has determined that additional discussion and analysis are warranted in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation's dispossessions of lands, the importance of Lake Oahe to the Tribe, our government-to-government relationship, and the statute governing easements through government property." [120]

Energy Transfer Partners responded by criticizing the Obama administration for "political interference" and said that "further delay in the consideration of this case would add millions of dollars more each month in costs which cannot be recovered." North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple criticized the decision saying the pipeline would be safe and that the decision was "long overdue". [121] Craig Stevens, spokesman for the MAIN Coalition, a labor group, called the Corps's announcement "yet another attempt at death by delay" and said the Obama administration "has chosen to further fan the flames of protest by more inaction." North Dakota Senator John Hoeven said in a statement that the delay "will only prolong the disruption in the region caused by protests and make life difficult for everyone who lives and works in the area." [122]

Speaking on the PBS Newshour on November 16, Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren responded to questions about the Tribe's two main concerns, damage to ancestral sites and the potential of water contamination if a leak occurred:

Well, first of all, I think this is well known by now. We're not on any Indian property at all, no Native American property. We're on private lands. That's number one. Number two, this pipeline is new steel pipe. We're boring underneath Lake Oahe. It's going to go 90 feet to 150 feet (27.5-45.7 m) below the lake's surface. It's thick wall pipe, extra thick, by the way, more so than just the normal pipe that we lay. Also, on each side of the lake, there's automated valves that, if in the very, very unlikely situation there were to be a leak, our control room shuts down the pipe, encapsulates that small section that could be in peril. So, that's just not going to happen. Number one, we're not going to have a leak. I can't promise that, of course, but that — no one would get on airplanes if they thought they were going to crash. And, number two, there is no way there would be any crude contaminate their water supply. They're 70 miles (110 km) downstream. [123]

On December 4, the Army announced that it would not grant an easement for the pipeline to be drilled under Lake Oahe. [124] The announcement was made by the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), Jo-Ellen Darcy:

Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it's clear that there's more work to do. The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing. [125]

Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners issued a same-day response:

The White House's directive today to the Corps for further delay is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency. As stated all along, ETP and SXL fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way. [126]

Dakota Access, LLC permitted to continue construction Edit

On January 24, 2017, newly elected President Donald Trump signed an executive order allowing the pipeline's construction to proceed. [127] On February 8, 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) granted Dakota Access, LLC an easement based on the Mineral Leasing Act to cross Lake Oahe and finish construction of the pipeline. On February 9, 2017, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed a motion for a restraining order citing Religious Freedom Restoration Act violations, claiming an oil spill would disrupt their ability to worship freely. [128] This preliminary injunction was rejected on March 7, 2017. On February 14, 2017, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed a motion for summary judgment. The motion asked the Court to rule on unresolved legal questions concerning USACE, including the meeting of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements and the violation of Tribal treaty rights. The motion addressed three claims: 1) the lawful requirement of a full, transparent and public environmental review for any federal action that has "significant" environmental effects, 2) Tribal treaty rights that guarantee the integrity of their reservation, and 3) the reversal of decisions from the previous administration. [128] [129]

Federal Court finds the environmental study inadequate Edit

On June 14, 2017, Federal Judge James Boasberg issued his third opinion in the matter, ruling that the Corps permits authorizing the pipeline to cross the Missouri River "substantially complied with NEPA in many areas" but did not adequately consider certain aspects of the law. In a ninety-one page decision to remand the matter to the Corps for supplementation of the record, Judge Boasberg wrote, "the Court agrees that [the Corps] did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline's effects are likely to be highly controversial". [130] [128] Boasberg's decision came just weeks after crude oil had started pumping through the pipeline. Judge Boasberg asked the parties to submit legal briefs on the question of whether the Court should shut down the pipeline pending the completion of a lawful environmental review. [128] [129]

On August 7, 2017, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed a legal brief arguing in favor of pipeline shutdown during the environmental review process. [128] [129] The Tribes received support from law professors and practitioners, tribes and tribal organizations, and other amicus parties. The Court granted the Tribes' motion for summary judgment for three reasons. First, the Court held that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to address expert critiques of Dakota Access, LLC's oil spill risk analysis. Second, the Court found fault in USACE's disregard of impacts an oil spill would have on the Tribes' treaty rights to fish and hunt. [131] Finally, the Court found that USACE conducted a skewed assessment that reached the conclusion that the selected site raised no environmental justice concerns. Under the Court's order, USACE will reassess these questions and come to a new decision on if a full environmental impact statement is required. [131]

On October 11, 2017, the Court ruled that DAPL could continue to operate while USACE reassessed the environmental impact of the pipeline. While the Court did not find that shutting down the pipeline would cause a major economic disruption as claimed by DAPL, they refused to shut the pipeline down during the impact study due to the possibility that USACE would be able to justify its decision to not do a full environmental review. USACE predicts that the review will be finished by April 2018. Following the Court's finding a statement was issued by Earthjustice Attorney Jan Hasselman, who is representing the Tribe.

Today's decision is a disappointing continuation of a historic pattern: other people get all the profits, and the Tribes get all the risk and harm. The court already found that the Corps violated the law when it issued the permits without thoroughly considering the impact on the people of Standing Rock. The company should not be allowed to continue operating while the Corps studies that threat., [129]

Safety measures imposed Edit

On December 4, 2017, following a 200,000 gallon Keystone pipeline oil spill in November 2017, Judge Boasberg imposed several interim measures over the ongoing operation of the Dakota Access pipeline. The Court ordered three measures, which had been requested by the Tribe. According to a report published by Earthjustice, a non-profit public interest law organization dedicated to environmental issues:

The Court ordered the Corps and DAPL to work with the Tribes to complete oil spill response plans at Lake Oahe. Up to now, the Tribe has been kept in the dark about spill response planning and was not involved in the process of developing plans to address spills at Lake Oahe. Second, the Court ordered an independent audit of DAPL's compliance with the permit conditions and standards. The Tribe has to be involved in the selection of an auditor. Finally, DAPL must file regular reports on any incidents or repairs on the pipeline. Such reporting is not currently required by law, which means the public does not learn about the nearly constant spills and leaks of oil that occur on major pipelines. [129]

The conditions were all opposed by the Corps and by DAPL.

2020 legal proceedings Edit

The tribe sued and in March 2020 a federal judge sided with them and ordered USACE to do a full environmental impact statement. In a 42-page decision Judge James Boasberg said the environmental analysis by both the companies behind the pipeline and the Corps was severely lacking. “In projects of this scope, it is not difficult for an opponent to find fault with many conclusions made by an operator and relied on by the agency, but here, there is considerably more than a few isolated comments raising insubstantial concerns. The many commenters in this case pointed to serious gaps in crucial parts of the Corps’ analysis — to name a few, that the pipeline's leak-detection system was unlikely to work, that it was not designed to catch slow spills, that the operator's serious history of incidents had not been taken into account, and that the worst-case scenario used by the Corps was potentially only a fraction of what a realistic figure would be." The case will continue. [132]

In July 2020, saying federal officials failed to carry out a complete analysis of its environmental impacts, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled that the pipeline must be shut down by August 5 and remain shutdown while the Army Corps of Engineers conducts a more extensive environmental review than the one done that allowed the pipeline to begin transporting oil three years previously. Pipeline owner Energy Transfer said they would appeal. On August 5, the Court of Appeals sided with Energy Transfer to allow the pipeline to stay open, saying the lower-court judge "did not make the findings necessary for injunctive relief." However the appellate court did not grant Energy Transfer's motion to block the review, saying the company had "failed to make a strong showing of likely success." [133]

Federal prosecutors brought indictments against at least five indigenous activists from the protests. [134] Dion Ortiz, James "Angry Bird" White, Michael "Little Feather" Giron, and Michael "Rattler" Markus were all convicted of one count of civil disorder. RedFawn Fallis was convicted of civil disorder and illegal possession of a gun by a convicted felon. White was sentenced to serve twenty-four months of probation. The other five protesters were incarcerated in federal prison, Ortiz for 16 months, Giron and Markus for 36 months, and Fallis for 57 months. [135] [136]

On August 11–12, 18 people were arrested, including Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault II who was charged with disorderly conduct. Along with the tribal council, Archambault had sued the Army Corps of Engineers days before his arrest. [137] He was himself sued on August 16 by Dakota Access, LLC, which sought "restraining orders and unspecified monetary damages." [138]

On August 30, 2 women, Ruby Montoya and Jessica Reznicek were arrested for conspiracy to damage an energy facility, four counts each of malicious use of fire and the use of fire to commit a felony. [139] The two set fire to machinery and tools and then used a torch to pierce the metal piping and valves. The charges they were indicted for carry up to 110 years in prison, one of the largest sentences on environmental activists in the past decade. [139] [140]

On September 7 an arrest warrant was also issued in Morton County for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka on misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass and criminal mischief. Stein had spray-painted "I approve this message" and Baraka wrote the word "decolonize" on a bulldozer. [141]

A warrant for journalist Amy Goodman's arrest was issued by Morton County on September 8. She was charged with criminal trespass related to the filming done on September 3. [72] [73] The prosecutor, Ladd Erickson, said Goodman was like a protester because she was only giving time to the protesters' side of the story. [142] In response to praise from Erickson, Matt Taibbi wrote, "a prosecutor who arrests a reporter because he doesn't think she's 'balanced' enough is basically telling future reporters what needs to be in their stories to avoid arrest. This is totally improper and un-American." [143]

On October 1, Canadian journalist Ed Ou, on assignment with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to cover the protests, was detained at the US border for six hours, with his cell phones and other electronic media confiscated. Ou was eventually denied entry to the US without explanation. [144] The American Civil Liberties Union requested that any data collected from Ou's electronic devices be destroyed and that he be given assurance that he would not be harassed again. [145]

Speaking on October 5, Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault II said that as of that date 135 anti-pipeline demonstrators had been arrested. Archambault also said that law enforcement officers were "heightening the danger" by using anti-riot gear. [31] Saying, "Confronting men, women, and children while outfitted in gear more suited for the battlefield is a disproportionate response", Amnesty International also expressed concern about the militant response to the protesters. [78]

On October 13, Goodman announced her intention to turn herself in to the Morton County–Mandan Corrections Center on Monday, October 17, to face misdemeanor riot charges. (Though she had originally been charged with criminal trespass, the prosecutor said that there were "legal issues with proving the notice of trespassing requirements in the statute.") [146] She stated that she would be fighting the charges against her as a First Amendment violation. [147] The Committee to Protect Journalists, [148] the North Dakota Newspaper Association, [149] the American Civil Liberties Union in North Dakota, [150] and the Freedom of the Press Foundation [150] all expressed concern over the developing challenge to freedom of the press.

On October 17, District Judge John Grinsteiner did not find probable cause for multiple riot charges, including the one brought against Goodman. Following the judge's decision, Kirchmeier reasserted that trespassing would lead to arrest, while the state prosecutor said that the investigation would remain open pending new evidence. [151]

According to the Water Protector Legal Collective over 800 state criminal cases were brought by North Dakota prosecutors. [152] Of these nearly 400 resulted in dismissals of charges, 42 ended in not-guilty verdicts at trial, nearly 200 were subjected to pre-trial diversion, and just 26 cases ended in convictions after trials. There are still 42 open cases before the state court. [152]

Many Sioux Tribes passed resolutions in support of Standing Rock, including the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. [38] Oklahoma tribes also expressed support for the pipeline protest movement. In August, Principal Chief Bill John Baker of the Cherokee Nation said, "As Indian people, we have a right to protect our lands and protect our water rights. That's our responsibility to the next seven generations." [153]

Field reporter Jordan Chariton (of The Young Turks' on-the-road program TYT Politics) was one of the most active journalists participating in the protests. He commented on the scant presence of journalists from mainstream networks such as CNN and MSNBC. [154]

Indigenous youth groups Edit

ReZpect Our Water is an indigenous youth group that formed to oppose the pipeline. [155] They have been very active in raising public awareness through social media, petitions, teach-ins, rallies, and videos. In May 2016, 13-year-old Anna Lee Rain Yellowhammer and thirty young people launched a petition that opposed the pipeline. [156] It quickly gathered over 80,000 signatures, including celebrity endorsements such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Russell. [157] [158]

In April 2016, ReZpect Our Water organized a 2,000 mile cross-country "spiritual run" from North Dakota to Washington, D.C., to protest the construction of the pipeline. Upon the groups arrival they delivered a petition with 160,000 signatures to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. [55] [159]

In December, 2016, Activist Naomi Klein interviewed ReZpect Our Water/Standing Rock Youth organizer Tokata Iron Eyes she posted a Facebook video of the interview which gained more than a million views in 24 hours. [160]

The International Indigenous Youth Council has also been active in protests against the pipeline and advocacy for Native American needs. The group was founded by Jaslyn Charger (Cheyenne River Sioux of Eagle Butte, South Dakota). Tara Houska (Ojibwe, Couchiching First Nation of International Falls, Minnesota), national campaigns director of Honor the Earth, has actively helped to explain the protest aims. Eryn Wise (Jicarilla Apache and Laguna tribes), Council communications director, hopes to relate history from the Indigenous people's point of view: "We don't ever hear the narrative of indigenous people. We hear people writing our narratives for us." [161]

Acts of solidarity in U.S. cities Edit

On September 8, about 500 Native Americans and other protesters marched in Denver to show solidarity with the Standing Rock Americans. State Representative Joe Salazar spoke about the safety of pipelines and described a recent Colorado Oil and Gas Association statement on oil pipeline safety as "full of lies." [162]

On September 16, a rally and march was held in Seattle to show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The mayor of Seattle and city council members joined leaders from Northwest tribes from Quinualt, Makah, Lummi, Suquamish, Tulalip, Swinomish, Puyallup and others to show opposition to the pipeline. Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, said that while the tribes are "determined to win this fight", a "deeper fix" is needed. "The U.S. must recognize that we have political equality. This is much larger than a specific infrastructure project. It goes to the fundamental relationship." [163]

According to the Grand Forks Herald, on October 13 the governments of 19 cities, including St. Louis and Minneapolis, had passed ordinances to support the Standing Rock tribe in opposition of the pipeline. [164]

In October, the Morton County Sheriff requested police from surrounding areas to assist in regulating the protests near the pipeline. The Dane County Sheriff's office of Wisconsin sent 10 deputies to aid the local police, [165] but they were recalled a few days later because of opposition from the Dane County residents and county officials. [166]

On November 15, hundreds of cities held protests against the pipeline in a coordinated protest which organizers called a "National Day of Action." [167] Hundreds of protesters gathered peacefully in Chicago, Los Angeles, Manhattan, Denver, and other cities dozens of protesters were arrested, including demonstrators in Mandan, North Dakota, where protesters were arrested after blocking a railroad. [168]

Tara Houska, Director for Honor the Earth, spoke at a rally in New York City saying, "Because of the power of social media and the millions of those at Standing Rock, the Army Corps are going to invite the tribe in to discuss their concerns." [168] Senator Bernie Sanders spoke at a protest in front of the White House. Robert Kennedy Jr. visited the protest camp and spoke to the protesters. He commented on the PBS Newshour: "I think they have a lot of courage. I think they're standing up for America, that they're standing up in the face of a bully." [123]

Thanksgiving Day has been described as a reminder of the strained relationship between the U.S. government and native people. On the November 24 holiday, several thousand continued to protest the pipeline some estimated that the number of protesters, which fluctuates, doubled that day. [169] Hundreds of people joined the protest that day, [170] including groups from California, [171] Oregon, [172] Wisconsin, [173] Colorado, [174] South Carolina, [175] and Washington. [176]

Protesters built a floating bridge to Turtle Island, considered sacred ground, and 400 gathered near the bridge, some crossing over to perform a prayer ceremony. [169] [177]

The influx of many new people over Thanksgiving weekend caused new problems, according to some activists. Some criticized a group of young, mostly white, people at the protest for treating it like a festival such as Burning Man by bringing drugs and alcohol, requiring supplies and provisions rather than sustaining themselves, or performing unsolicited live music. [178]

Actress Jane Fonda was one of a delegation of 50 people who served a Thanksgiving dinner in nearby Mandan, capturing media attention. [179] [180] Business owners traveled from as far as Massachusetts [181] and Pennsylvania [182] to serve food to protesters at Standing Rock.

A Thanksgiving Day protest in Portland, Oregon drew about 350 in heavy rain. [183]

In February 2017, Seattle, Washington's city council unanimously voted to not renew its contract with Wells Fargo in a move that cites the bank's role as a lender to the Dakota Access Pipeline project as well as its "creation of millions of bogus accounts" and said the bidding process for its next banking partner would involve "social responsibility." The City Council in Davis, California, took a similar action, voting unanimously to find a new bank to handle its accounts by the end of 2017. [184]

In March 2017, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe led a four-day protest in Washington D.C., culminating in the Native Nations Rise march on March 10. The protesters marched through the capital, pausing to erect a tipi at Trump International Hotel, and rallied in front of the White House. [185]

Support from military veterans Edit

In November, a group called Veterans Stand for Standing Rock formed to participate in nonviolent intervention to defend the demonstrators from what the group has called "assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force." According to The New York Times, "as many as 2,000 veterans" indicated that they would gather at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to serve as "human shields" for protesters. The organizers of these protests included a retired Baltimore police sergeant and Wes Clark, Jr., the son of former Supreme NATO Commander and 2004 presidential candidate Wesley Clark. Wes Clark, Jr is affiliated with The Young Turks. [186]

Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard supported the protests and travelled to North Dakota in 2016. [187]

Following the executive order made by President Trump in January 2017 which overturned the decision of former President Obama to halt the construction of the pipeline and the February order in which he authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed, US veterans returned to Standing Rock to a form human shield to protect Dakota Access pipeline protesters. Air force veteran Elizabeth Williams said, "We are prepared to put our bodies between Native elders and a privatized military force. We've stood in the face of fire before. We feel a responsibility to use the skills we have." [188]


Along with the hashtag #NoDAPL, many other hashtags sprang up on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to protest the pipeline. The hashtags included #ReZpectOurWater, which is a play on "reservations", #StandWithStandingRock, and #WaterisLife. [189] [190] Activist Naomi Klein posted a Facebook video in which she interviewed 13-year-old water protector, Takota Iron Eyes, which gained more than a million views in 24 hours. [191]

In December 2016, Klein, writing an editorial in The Nation shortly after the Army Corps of Engineers had turned down the permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline to be built under the Missouri River, said, "The Lesson from Standing Rock: Organizing and Resistance Can Win." As a long-standing climate change activist, Klein said that past resistance has brought about change incrementally and only after a delay following mass actions. However, she wrote, Standing Rock had been "different." [192]

However, calling the Army Corps of Engineers request for further study an "incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible permitting process," on January 24, newly elected President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum to advance the construction of the pipeline. [17] [18]

In December 2016, while still directed by the Obama administration, the Army Corps of Engineers decided that further study to address tribal concerns was needed and launched a study on January 18, 2017. But on January 24, newly elected President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum to advance the construction of the pipeline under "terms and conditions to be negotiated". The order would expedite the environmental review that Trump described as an "incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible permitting process." [17] [18]

On February 7, 2017, Trump authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed, ending its environmental impact assessment and the associated public comment period. [19] The director of the Indigenous Environmental Network released a statement saying: "The granting of an easement, without any environmental review or tribal consultation, is not the end of this fight—it is the new beginning. Expect mass resistance far beyond what Trump has seen so far. . Our tribal nations and Indigenous grassroots peoples on the front lines have had no input on this process." [193] Standing Rock chairman David Archambault II said, "We are not opposed to energy independence. We are opposed to reckless and politically motivated development projects, like DAPL, that ignore our treaty rights and risk our water. Creating a second Flint does not make America great again." [194] Appearing as a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on February 12, actress and activist Shailene Woodley said that, rather than gather at the Dakota protest site, the best way to oppose the pipeline may be to boycott banks that fund it and to take part in local protests. [195]

In September 2016, Senator Bernie Sanders spoke to a crowd of about 3,000 members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and supporters at a protest held outside of the White House. Saying "the pipeline threatens the environment and water resources and exploits Native Americans", he asked President Obama to take action and conduct a full environmental and cultural impact analysis of the project, which he believed would kill the pipeline. [119] [196] Following the use of the National Guard and police in riot gear to remove protesters from a protest camp in October, Sanders again called on the president to suspend construction of the pipeline. In a letter to the President, Sanders said in part: "It is deeply distressing to me that the federal government is putting the profits of the oil industry ahead of the treaty and sovereign rights of Native American communities. Mr. President, you took a bold and principled stand against the Keystone Pipeline – I ask you to take a similar stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline." [197]

Saying that the Dakota Access pipeline project is part of a "long history of pushing the impacts of pollution onto the most economically and politically disadvantaged people and communities across this country", Representative Raúl Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, on September 22 asked the Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the existing permits for the pipeline. [42]

Saying "the project's current permits should be suspended and all construction stopped until a complete environmental and cultural review has been completed for the entire project", Senators Sanders, Dianne Feinstein, Ed Markey, Patrick Leahy and Benjamin Cardin on October 13 called on President Barack Obama to order a comprehensive environmental review of the pipeline project. They also requested stronger tribal consultation for the contested part of the route. [164]

Calling the proposed pipeline route "the ripest case of environmental racism I have seen in a long time", on October 26 the Reverend Jesse Jackson announced support for the movement, saying, "The tribes of this country have sacrificed a lot so this great country could be built. With promises broken, land stolen and sacred lands desecrated, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is standing up for their right to clean water. They have lost land for settlers to farm, more land for gold in the Black Hills, and then again, even more, land for the dam that was built for hydropower. When will the taking stop?" [45]

In September, Obama spoke to tribal representatives, saying, "I know that many of you have come together across tribes and across the country to support the community at Standing Rock. And together, you're making your voices heard." He again discussed the protest movement on November 2 saying that "we're going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of First Americans." [198]

Several members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives weighed in on the protest on November 29, 2016. Senators Al Franken of Minnesota and Cory Booker of New Jersey called upon U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate the tactics of law enforcement officers against peaceful protesters, and to send monitors to track any violence against protesters. [199] Several members of the House made statements as well, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii announced plans to join hundreds of other military veterans in protecting the protesters in early December. [199]

Native American lacrosse players Lyle Thompson and his brothers Miles, Jeremy and Hiana and others including Bill O'Brien and Scott Marr, used social media to support the protesters. They visited the camp as well, bringing lacrosse sticks and organizing games, giving instructions to those who had never before played the game. Following President Trump's January 2017 reversal of the Court decisions made under the Obama administration, the players said that they planned to continue with their support. [200]

Following her unexpected win in the 2018 New York Democratic primary race, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez credited the time she spent at the protest camp as the reason for her decision run for political office. In an interview she recalled her visit to Standing Rock as a tipping point, saying that she had previously felt that the only way to effectively run for office was if you had access to wealth, social influence, and power. But her visit to North Dakota, where she saw others "putting their whole lives and everything that they had on the line for the protection of their community," inspired her to begin to work within her own community. [201]


Sharpeville was first built in 1943 to replace Topville, a nearby township that suffered overcrowding where illnesses like pneumonia were widespread. Due to the illness, removals from Topville began in 1958. Approximately 10,000 Africans were forcibly removed to Sharpeville. Sharpeville had a high rate of unemployment as well as high crime rates. There were also youth problems because many children joined gangs and were affiliated with crimes instead of schools. Furthermore, a new police station was created, from which the police were energetic to check passes, deporting illegal residents, and raiding illegal shebeens. [3]

South African governments since the eighteenth century had enacted measures to restrict the flow of black South Africans into cities. Pass laws intended to control and direct their movement and employment were updated in the 1950s. Under the country's National Party government, black residents in urban districts were subject to influx control measures. Individuals over sixteen were required to carry passbooks, which contained an identity card, employment and influx authorisation from a labour bureau, name of employer and address, and details of personal history. [4] Leading up to the Sharpeville massacre, the National Party administration under the leadership of Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd used these laws to enforce greater racial segregation [5] and, in 1959–1960, extended them to include women. [6] : pp.14,528 From the 1960s, the pass laws were the primary instrument used by the state to detain and harass its political opponents. [6] : p.163

The African National Congress (ANC) prepared to initiate a campaign of protests against pass laws. These protests were to begin on 31 March 1960, but the rival Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), led by Robert Sobukwe, decided to pre-empt the ANC by launching its own campaign ten days earlier, on 21 March, because they believed that the ANC could not win the campaign. [7] [8]

On 21 March, a group of between 5,000 and 10,000 people converged on the local police station, offering themselves up for arrest for not carrying their passbooks. [9] The Sharpeville police were not completely unprepared for the demonstration, as they had already driven smaller groups of more militant activists away the previous night. [10]

PAC actively organized to increase turnout to the demonstration, distributing pamphlets and appearing in person to urge people not to go to work on the day of the protest. Many of the civilians present attended voluntarily to support the protest, but there is evidence that the PAC also used coercive means to draw the crowd there, including the cutting of telephone lines into Sharpeville, and preventing bus drivers from driving their routes. [6] : p.534

By 10:00, a large crowd had gathered, and the atmosphere was initially peaceful and festive. Fewer than 20 police officers were present in the station at the start of the protest. Later the crowd grew to about 20,000, [5] and the mood was described as "ugly", [5] prompting about 130 police reinforcements, supported by four Saracen armoured personnel carriers, to be rushed in. The police were armed with firearms, including Sten submachine guns and Lee–Enfield rifles. There was no evidence that anyone in the gathering was armed with anything other than stones. [5]

F-86 Sabre jets and Harvard Trainers approached to within a hundred feet of the ground, flying low over the crowd in an attempt to scatter it. The protesters responded by hurling stones (striking three policemen) and rushing the police barricades. Police officers attempted to use tear gas to repel these advances, but it proved ineffectual, and the police fell back on the use of their batons. [10] At about 13:00 the police tried to arrest a protester, and the crowd surged forward. [5] The shooting began shortly thereafter. [5]

Death and injury toll Edit

The official figure is that 69 people were killed, including 8 women and 10 children, and 180 injured, including 31 women and 19 children. Many were shot in the back as they turned to flee, causing some to be paralyzed. [1]

Pretext for firing Edit

Police reports in 1960 claimed that young and inexperienced police officers panicked and opened fire spontaneously, setting off a chain reaction that lasted about forty seconds. It is likely that the police were quick to fire as two months before the massacre, nine constables had been assaulted and killed, some disembowelled, during a raid at Cato Manor. [10] Few of the policemen present had received public order training. Some of them had been on duty for over twenty-four hours without respite. [10] Some insight into the mindset of those on the police force was provided by Lieutenant Colonel Pienaar, the commanding officer of the police reinforcements at Sharpeville, who said in his statement that "the native mentality does not allow them to gather for a peaceful demonstration. For them to gather means violence." [1] He also denied giving any order to fire and stated that he would not have done so.

Other evidence given to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission "the evidence of Commission deponents reveals a degree of deliberation in the decision to open fire at Sharpeville and indicates that the shooting was more than the result of inexperienced and frightened police officers losing their nerve." [6] : p.538

The uproar among South Africa's black population was immediate, and the following week saw demonstrations, protest marches, strikes, and riots around the country. On 30 March 1960, the government declared a state of emergency, detaining more than 18,000 people, including prominent anti-apartheid activists who were known as members of the Congress Alliance including Nelson Mandela and some still enmeshed in the Treason Trial. [11]

Many White South Africans were also horrified by the massacre. The poet Duncan Livingstone, a Scottish immigrant from the Isle of Mull who lived in Pretoria, wrote in response to the Massacre the Scottish Gaelic poem Bean Dubh a' Caoidh a Fir a Chaidh a Marbhadh leis a' Phoileas ("A Black Woman Mourns her Husband Killed by the Police"). [12]

The Afrikaner poet Ingrid Jonker also mentioned the Sharpeville Massacre in her verse.

A storm of international protest followed the Sharpeville shootings, including sympathetic demonstrations in many countries [13] [14] and condemnation by the United Nations. On 1 April 1960, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 134. Sharpeville marked a turning point in South Africa's history the country found itself increasingly isolated in the international community. The event also played a role in South Africa's departure from the Commonwealth of Nations in 1961. [ citation needed ]

The Sharpeville massacre contributed to the banning of the PAC and ANC as illegal organisations. The massacre was one of the catalysts for a shift from passive resistance to armed resistance by these organisations. The foundation of Poqo, the military wing of the PAC, and Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC, followed shortly afterwards. [ citation needed ]

Not all reactions were negative: embroiled in the Civil Rights Movement, the Mississippi House of Representatives voted a resolution supporting the South African government "for its steadfast policy of segregation and the [staunch] adherence to their traditions in the face of overwhelming external agitation." [15] [16]

Since 1994, 21 March has been commemorated as Human Rights Day in South Africa. [17]

Sharpeville was the site selected by President Nelson Mandela for the signing into law of the Constitution of South Africa on 10 December 1996. [18]

In 1998, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) found that the police actions constituted "gross human rights violations in that excessive force was unnecessarily used to stop a gathering of unarmed people." [6] : p.537

On 21 March 2002, the 42nd anniversary of the massacre, a memorial was opened by former President Nelson Mandela as part of the Sharpeville Human Rights Precinct. [19]

Watch the video: Historic Protest Movements in Every Decade. History By the Decade


  1. Mazil

    This is simply incomparable :)

  2. Tepiltzin

    Bravo what a great message

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