With a government-imposed deadline looming next week to abandon their large encampment on the North Dakota grasslands, the hundreds of protesters who’ve dug in to block the Dakota Access pipeline are facing an uncertain future. They’ve already endured having hoses turned on them in below-freezing temperatures, beatings from police and private security and volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets as they fight to protect lands sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe that they fear will be despoiled and possibly desecrated if the $3.8 billion pipeline is erected on their land.
Following on the heels of an impassioned plea from Neil Young asking President Obama to block the pipeline, British singer Kate Nash (now an L.A. resident) worked the phones last weekend at a call bank to support the #NoDAPL movement, which inspired her to reach out to her fellow musicians to draft their own letter to the president. “I want to write a letter for musicians to sign, expressing how disturbed they are by the police actions taking place at Standing Rock,” she told Noisey in a text message. “We as the music community should not support the police there. We should take a stand.”
Disturbed at what she saw as a lack of mainstream media coverage of the fight — which had left many of her fans in the U.K. unaware — Nash drafted a letter over the weekend addressed to Obama, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Justice, which she’s asked musicians and music industry members to sign in solidarity.
She’s gotten plenty of support so far, from the likes of Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong, Sia, Karen O, Hayley Williams from Paramore, Cat Power, Death Cab for Cutie‘s Ben Gibbard, Mark Ronson, Vic Mensa, Garbage‘s Shirley Manson, Moby, Tegan & Sara, Sleigh Bells, Tove Lo, Lykke Li, Radiohead‘s Ed O’Brien, JoJo, Kathleen Hannah, Warpaint and more than 100 others.
The letter begins:
Dear President Obama, Army Corps of Engineers, and Department of Justice,
We are writing to express our shock at the treatment of the people of Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota. We are deeply disturbed by the police actions that have been taking place, where non violent protests have been and continue to be met with extremely aggressive tactics including; being shot with water canons in below freezing temperatures, chemical weapons, rubber bullets, and attack dogs. These are the same inhumane methods used during WWII and the Civil Rights Movement.
We feel strongly in the current political climate that those in power must be held accountable for their actions. We stand behind and urge you to take action regarding the following requests made in the coalition statement released on November 27th, 2016:
“WE CALL ON THE WHITE HOUSE TO DENY THE EASEMENT NOW, REVOKE THE PERMITS, REMOVE THE DAPL CONSTRUCTION WORKERS, AND ORDER A FULL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT IN FORMAL CONSULTATION WITH IMPACTED TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS. PUT AN END TO THE VIOLENCE.”
To see the full letter, see the list of supporters and read an interview with Nash about the project click here.