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Standing Rock oil pipe protest may become “the new Selma”

Posted on: September 26, 2016 12:54 PM
A rare “wetplate” photo by renowned photographer Shane Balkowitsch showing a community elder addressing a crowd of Standing Rock Sioux people as they protest the North Dakota Access Pipeline.
Photo Credit: Shane Balkowitsch / Wikimedia

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Presiding Bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church has delivered an impassioned speech in support of the Standing Rock Sioux community. Bishop Michael Curry told them that their stand against a controversial oil pipeline could become as important in US history as the 1965 civil rights stand in Selma, Alabama. Selma is considered a turning point in racial equality in the US after a peaceful protest by African Americans demanding the right to vote was met with police violence.

The Presiding Bishop made his comments at the weekend during a solidarity visit to the Sioux protest camps along the Canon Ball River. They are opposed to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline which is set to run through sacred burial grounds and under the Missouri River.

“I stand here as somebody who understands what it means to have to stand here and struggle,” Presiding Bishop Curry said to gathered protestors at the Oceti Sakowin Camp. “I stand here as somebody who understands what it means to stand up for justice, to stand up for righteousness, to stand up for goodness, to stand up for God’s world, to stand up for God’s Children.

“And that is what you’re doing - and you do not stand alone.”

He had earlier told them that they had the support of the not just himself, but also the bishops of North and South Dakota, from the wider Episcopal Church, and from members of the Anglican Communion around the world – including the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada who had written in support of the protestors.

“Your stand here at Standing Rock has brought together nations,” he said. “You have brought together peoples of all stripes and types. You are awakening something in us. You are awakening hope that the world does not have to stay the way it is. You are awakening hope that maybe things can change . . . that the world does not have to say the way it has been.

“In 1965, in Selma, Alabama, there was another Standing Rock. People gathered at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. People like Congressman John Lewis and others were beaten by angry mobs. They were just trying to get the right to vote. And it turned out that Selma was a turning point . . . in the struggle for civil and human rights in this country.

“And I want to suggest now that Standing Rock may be the new Selma. This may well be the moment when nations come together, when peoples of goodwill come together to transform this world from the nightmare it often is, into the dream that God intends – so that clean water is available to everybody, so that every man, woman and child knows the peace that God intends for us all.”

And he urged them: “Don’t you get weary. Don’t you get tired. Don’t you give up. Stand together, walk together, pray together, love each other, and help this world become a world that looks like God’s dream and not like a human nightmare.”