Nearly 200 demonstrators gathered this morning at Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids to rally against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the recent government decision to remove the protesters from the area.
Just after 11:30 a.m. individual speakers took turns with a microphone talking to the crowd and attempting to gain the attention of Grand Rapids.
People carrying signs and banners then marched to the riverside near the Gerald R. Ford Museum where prayer and meditation was encouraged while more speeches were given. The demonstration remained peaceful while marching back to Calder Plaza where they continued to protest.
Lin Bardwell, 43, of Grand Rapids has been to North Dakota as a Water Protector, referring to those camped out at Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
“It’s not just the Dakotas where water is being threatened, millions of native and non-native people in our country, including right here in Michigan, are fighting for clean water,” Bardwell said.
Lorraine Osborne, 20, from Grand Rapids said that the issue is more than water.
“We have to defend sacred lands of people who were here before us, this isn’t just about water,” Osborne.
Shannon Abbot, 30, from Grand Rapids, is an organizer against the DAPL and was selling clothing to raise funds for the Water Protectors.
“We hope to educate as much as we can to the people on the situation in Standing Rock,” Abbot said. “We also have a statewide gathering in Lansing on March 22.”
Grand Valley State University students Jade Cruz,19, and Sarah Ettore, 19, of Grand Rapids agreed with Osborne about the bigger picture issue.
“We are already living on borrowed land of native people,” Ettore said. “ And (to the government) bullsh*t oil profits are more important than the health and well being of others.”