SALT LAKE CITY — Several of the demonstrators who gathered Monday morning at the Wells Fargo Center in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline have now been arrested.
Demonstrators entered the building and began chanting "water is sacred."
The bank is one of several backing the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline would shuttle more than 500,000 barrels of crude oil a day across four states. With the oil line under the Missouri River, the tribe’s drinking water and sacred burial grounds would be compromised.
“This is an act to protect the water, which is part of our lives as Native Americans,” said James Singer, organizers of Monday's demonstration.
Utah supporters joined the fight of so-called “water protectors” who have gathered from all over the world in peaceful demonstrations. However, recent exchanges with law enforcement on the front lines have become intense.
“They've been bringing dogs, attacking our people, they've been using pepper spray. They've taken people and arrested them, put them in dog kennels so they can put this Pipeline through. It's deplorable what's been going on there,” Singer said.
“It’s more important than ever that Native people, black people, people of color have white allies. That’s why I’m here today standing in solidarity with those who don’t have a voice,” said Ayja Bounous, a demonstrator.
A group of demonstrators chained themselves together and refused to leave the building.
“We had eight people that chose to go to jail in lieu of a citation and one received a citation,” said Detective Robert Ungricht with Salt Lake City Police.
They were loaded onto a bus and taken to the Salt Lake County jail, booked on misdemeanor charges of trespassing and failure to disperse.
People took to social media to broadcast the protest. It caught the eye of Jamie Gordon, a member of the Navajo Tribe who lives in Corona, California and is traveling to Standing Rock Reservation.
“It’s so disgusting and appalling that this is happening and that no one is stepping up to do anything about it,” Gordon said.
Organizers say they’re encouraged by the local support they’re receiving including from Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. She has written a letter to President Obama encouraging him to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Another DAPL protest event, the "November 1 Pack-In," is slated for Tuesday at the Salt Lake City and County Building.