over 500k people “check in” to standing rock on facebook to protest the north dakota pipeline
They’re trying to thwart law enforcement and raise awareness of the plight of Native Americans whose land is being used for an oil pipeline.
The North Dakota Pipeline is a controversial project designed to pump crude oil from Stanley in North Dakota to Patoka in Illinois. It's controversial not just because of the impact that oil has on the climate and environment, but because much of the land being used to create the pipeline has been taken from Native American tribes.
One site in particular, Standing Rock in North Dakota, has become the centre of the protest movement against the pipeline. People have been joining the local Sioux tribe there all summer, and it's estimated up to 4,000 people are currently at the site to protest. The pipeline, they insist, will have a negative effect on the water of their community. This had led to many incidents between protestors, police and a private security firm who pipeline's construction company brought in to the guard the construction site, and who have been accused of attacking protestors with pepper spray and dogs.
Then a few days ago, on 27 October, police and the national guard began an operation to clear out the protestors, using armoured vehicles, rubber bullets and tear gas. The situation has got so bad that Amnesty International has sent observers to monitor the site for human rights abuses. The Los Angeles Times even reported that some arrested activists were marked with numbers and locked in dog cages.
Now, in an effort to thwart the efforts of law enforcement (who are reportedly monitoring social media to track activists) as well as raise awareness of the protest camp, people are "checking in" to Standing Rock on Facebook. Now the location, which according to the 2000 census had a population of 8,250, has had over 500,000 people check themselves into the reservation in just a few hours.
Although it's unclear whether checking in to Standing Rock will really help to confuse police tracking activists on social media, it at the very least raises important awareness of the cause the Native Americans and climate change activists are fighting for, even if the actual post is just a viral hoax.
Text Felix Petty
Image via Flickr