As students in costume began arriving on Court Street before the Halloween Block Party, members of the Ohio University branch of the International Socialist Organization gathered behind a banner reading NO #DAPL YES TO SOVEREIGNTY.”
International Socialist Organization member Ryan Powers said the demonstrators gathered at the courthouse from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. to answer a global call to protest in solidarity with the “water protectors,” a group of protesters made up of members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and supporters attempting to occupy land in the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The completed pipeline would stretch 1,172 miles through four states and transport 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day, according to CNN. Critics of the pipeline say it threatens drinking water and cuts through land given to Native Americans in treaties.
The Ohio University branch of the International Socialist Organization is also collecting donations for a bail fund for those arrested while protesting the building of the pipeline, he said. According to CNN, police arrested at least 117 people at protests Thursday.
About 20 people, mostly Ohio University students, took part in the demonstration.
Demonstrators handed out fliers and copies of the Socialist Worker newspaper.
Powers said the US government is invading Native American land by building the pipeline, and said the International Socialist Organization stands against such invasions.
“Ultimately we’re fighting for international solidarity," Powers said. "If there is a strong capitalist government oppressing a weaker nation, that’s going to harm us as well."
Rachel Baker, a junior studying social work and wildlife biology, said people should oppose the construction of the pipeline by “whatever means we find necessary,” up to and including violent resistance.
“The fact that the water protectors have been protesting peacefully and are still being violently murdered show us that those tactics don’t prevent our enemies from using violent force, so we have to be ready,” she said.
Buffalo Child, a Native American actor involved with the protests in South Dakota, said in a Facebook live video that a sniper shot an eleven-year-old girl at the scene. However, Dallas Goldtooth, a ground campaign organizer with Indigenous Environmental Network, said those claims were false.
People passing the demonstration by the courthouse had mixed reactions. Some ignored direct questions such as “How do you feel about the pipeline?” One person walking by waved away fliers the demonstrators offered him and told them he didn’t know what the banner meant.
Tyler Barton, a member of the International Socialist Organization, said most people walking by seemed indifferent.
“We don’t expect most people walking around the sidewalk on Halloween Saturday to care about this,” he said.
Barton said a handful of people reacted positively and approached demonstrators to talk about the pipeline. He said though International Socialist Organization Members want to educate everyone about the pipeline, the demonstration focused more on attracting people who already care about the issue and might be interested in getting involved.
“A big reason why we do this it to kind of attract people who might be interested who might feel isolated,” he said. “They might be reading about it on the news and not know other people who care about it.”