A spokesman for the group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement says they plan to use Civil Disobedience to continue trying to block the construction of the Bakken oil pipeline.
ICCI state policy director, Adam Mason, says the protest Wednesday could include members being arrested.
“We plan on bringing together volunteers, those who are opposed to the pipeline, landowners, all kinds of folks from all across the state who have been in this fight for two years now. And because the IUB has failed to respond, we see no other recourse but to do what it takes to start blockading construction,” Mason says.
The Iowa Utilities Board awarded the permit to Dakota Access for the pipeline construction after several meetings and hearings on the issue. And the IUB denied a request from 15 landowners last Thursday to stay construction until a lawsuit is decided over the use of eminent domain on the project.
Mason says members are prepared to be arrested if necessary, a step he says is unusual. “At Iowa CCI we’ve only used arrested as a tactic in our organizing once in our 41-year history. During the banking crisis after the 2008 bank crash we were protesting in front of Wells Fargo to bust up the big banks,” according to Mason. He says the group feels this is something they have to do after not having success in stopping the pipeline in other ways.
“This is not a decision that we take lightly,” Mason says, “it is one that our members have wrestled with over time. But we do feel that the threat of the pipeline has come to this.” ICCI will hold a training session for volunteers Wednesday morning near Pilot Mound in Boone County before the protest in the afternoon.
“We want to make sure that our team of folks who are planning on getting arrested moving forward have the skills and training they need to remain calm under pressure. We’ll just be doing some training on how to react — how to deal with law enforcement — ultimately so that the protest is successful,” Mason says. He hopes the protest will cause more people to join them in speaking out against the pipeline.
“We believe that part of the power in taking an arrest as part of a movement is doing that in a coordinated way. So we are asking all the folks who are interested to not only participate in the training the we are offering, but also to coordinate in actions moving forward,” Mason says. He says they are taking inspiration for the Lakota Tribe and others in North Dakota who have been blocking pipeline construction there for two weeks. “We feel that this is a powerful way to continue our resistance as long as necessary.”
Governor Terry Branstad was asked at his news conference Monday if the Iowa State Patrol will be available to react to the protest. “Well, of course, the Iowa Highway Patrol protects the safety and well being of Iowans, whether it is at the State Fair or on the highways or wherever it might be, so I have full confidence in the Highway Patrol,” Branstad replied.
He was also ask if he would call up the Iowa National Guard to deal with the protest. “I think that’s premature,” Branstad said, “we are going to do what’s necessary to protect people and to make sure that the workers and the people who are doing their jobs are able to do so.” The Bakken pipeline is cutting across 18 Iowa counties from the northwest corner to the southeast.