SEATTLE -- Activists trying to stop the construction of a pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation say they’re “disappointed” by the Army Corps of Engineers decision to try and force them to move one of their camps. The decision comes after increased clashes between law enforcement and the activists trying to block the pipeline.
The ongoing standoff there has struck a chord with some in the Northwest. Some have gone to Standing Rock to support the effort; others are sending supplies.
“I've never called myself an activist or been an activist or anything, but water is life,” demonstrator Jo Ann Coker explained.
Coker says she first learned about the controversy involving the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline on Facebook and realized she wanted to go there and learn more.
“They're peaceful water protectors, and that just struck me to the core," she said. Coker camped there for more than a week and says she returned to Seattle a changed person.
She is now gathering supplies and raising money to go back.
“I've been selling things to make more money," she said.
She is also trying to raise awareness and share what she experienced through social media.
She was there when tensions escalated between law enforcement and demonstrators and has been trying to share her experience and connect outsiders with those who remain at the camp.
“The water cannons are going, the tear gas is going and people are still in prayer,” she said, describing the scene.
Coker said it was hard to leave, but a prayer shawl helps her feel connected.
“They say even when you wear it, you're in prayer," she said.
She plans to return on December 8 and stay there for a month. She wants to support the tribes through what will likely be a bitter winter and, hopefully, raising more awareness about what they're fighting for and why. She believes if they get enough people in their corner they can still block the pipeline.
"There's always hope.”
Coker has a GoFundMe page to help support her work for Standing Rock.