Students and professors protest the pipeline

Castleton students stood outside TD bank to protest the bank's involvement in the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo by Jadie Dow. 

Protestors from Castleton University and the town of Rutland came together on Saturday afternoon to bring attention to a cause they find worthy of standing out in the cold.

            According to their fact sheet, TD Bank is the 7th largest investor of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a project that thousands have spoken out against in the last months. From 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. on Jan. 28, nine people gathered outside the doors of TD Bank in Rutland to convey that they will not stand for what the bank is doing.  

            Castleton philosophy professor Brendan Lalor initiated the event.

            “Martin Luther King said it’s not just about having your voice heard – it’s about making change. The Standing Rock Sioux have been there for months on end. We have another angle … putting pressure on the banks,” Lalor said. “TD bank aims to make money. They are investing in the harmful, destructive, dangerous project.”

            The Dakota Access Pipeline is a government project in North Dakota. The goal of this project is to put an oil pipeline underground, spanning nearly 1,200 miles, that will carry approximately 470,000 barrels of oil per day across the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and ending in Illinois, where it can be shipped to refineries, according to BBC.

            Though this was initially approved by these states in 2014, the site has been home to thousands of protesters since April 2016.

            On Jan. 24, President Donald Trump signed an executive order in support of the construction going forward on the pipeline.

            Protesters at the site in North Dakota claim that the pipeline will run under Lake Oahe on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation and potentially harm their drinking water, as well as break a treaty the government has in place with the tribe.

            Kaetlyn Collins, a Castleton student, stood in the cold for hours holding a sign that said, “people over pipelines.”

            “I believe you should support causes. The government is breaking treaties and the pipeline simply shouldn’t be there,” she said.

            The nine stood on the corner of Merchants Row and Evelyn St. and chanted with their breath showing in the cold air.

            “We call upon TD to go fossil fuel free.”

            “Hey hey ho ho this pipeline has got to go.”

            “There ain’t no jobs on a dead planet.”

            Another protester in Rutland, Michelle Evans, had many reasons to be fighting.

            “I am standing with Standing Rock knowing that my kids and grandkids need to be protected. It’s easy to feel isolated up here since we don’t have a water problem,” she said.

            Throughout the day, many people walked by and were handed fact sheets, and several cars honked in support of what the protesters stood for, but not everyone was in support of the cause.

            A gentleman who asked to remain anonymous for personal reasons supports the pipeline because he had family who died due to an oil spill from oil being transported by a rail cart that malfunctioned. According to the man, half of the town burned down.

            “The pipeline is a safer way to do it. Hopefully I changed some of their minds. They’re protesting the wrong thing,” the man said.

            Castleton English professor Tersh Palmer said it’s important to have development in different ways to create energy that are not harmful to the environment.

            Though not as many people turned out as Lalor had hoped, they did make an impact on one woman.

            According to Lalor, a woman named Debbie walked out of the bank about 20 minutes before the protest ended and asked what they were doing. When they told her, she turned around, went into the bank and withdrew all of her money.

            “You might want to play the game to make money, but the ref should blow the whistle,” Lalor said.

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