Thousands of people converged on downtown Los Angeles on Sunday to protest the proposed $3.8-billion Dakota Access pipeline, which activists across the country say threatens the water supply and sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota.
Organizers, gathering at Pershing Square, say this was the first anti-pipeline protest in Los Angeles since President Trump signed executive orders to fast-track construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
“I haven’t seen this kind of thing before and I’ve been involved in protests since the ’70s,” said Karen Pomer of Labor for Standing Rock, one of the groups participating in the demonstration.
The demonstration was the brainchild of Isaac Price, a Web designer in Long Beach who created a Facebook page after the executive orders were signed. He’d never organized a protest before, Pomer said.
“He thought he would have 150 people with picket signs here, and it’s grown and grown,” said Pomer, who said several thousand people were expected to attend.
Indigenous, labor, environmental and veterans’ groups were involved in the effort, she added, pointing out that many participants have also been to the site of the Standing Rock protest in North Dakota.
The pipeline projects have become among the country’s most potent symbols of the clash between an oil and gas industry seeking to maintain the old order of energy production and the climate change movement pushing for a different direction.
The Dakota Access project more recently became a national rallying point not only for environmental groups but for Native American tribes who said it threatened grounds they hold sacred. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has set up a camp to protest the pipeline, and the battle over it has become violent at times, with protesters clashing with police.
Organizers said Sunday’s rally in Los Angeles may be the first but it probably won’t be the last. They also pointed to the fact that the Army Corps of Engineers is taking public comment on the Dakota Access Pipeline through Feb. 20.
“This is happening more and more,” Pomer said. “People who weren’t activists maybe two weeks ago are turning into activists today, and that’s why we’re seeing so many people in the streets the last two weeks.... It’s definitely a phenomenon that’s going to continue for the next four years.”
Protesters marched from Olive and 5th streets to the Roybal Federal Building on Temple Street, where they held a noon rally.
11:35 a.m. This article was updated with more detailed information about march and size of crowd.
This story was originally posted at 10:30 a.m.