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Student-led groups organize against Dakota Access Pipeline

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De Anza paved the way for sustainability awareness with two day long educational booths spearheaded by the DASB Environmental Sustainability Committee and the De Anza Political Revolution club on Wednesday, March 8 and Thursday, March 9.

Students for Justice provided information on how to divest from credit unions that support DAPL, and artists from the Environment Club helped host booths.

DAPR president Eddie Cisneros, 23, public health major said, “We hope to have educated many different students on the pressing issues surrounding water both here in California around the country and around the world.”

Wednesday consisted of a panel of speakers on the looming Dakota Access Pipeline and the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Speakers included Elih Lizama, a Native American activist from Sacramento; Kanyon Sayers-Rood, an artist and activist; De Anza College professor Alicia De Toro, chair of the environmental studies department; and Meghan Kensler, De Anza College Native American law and policies professor.

“[I grew up believing] earth my body, and water my blood,” Sayers-Rood said. “When song, ceremony and dance stop, so does the earth.”

Lizama said he decided to go to Standing Rock with an acquaintance and “realized I was killing myself for a system that doesn’t care about me.”

De Toro referred to the issue of environmental racism during the panel.

“It’s difficult to see this going on in our own country,” said De Toro. “It’s opened up the eyes of people who don’t realize this is going on all over the world.”

De Toro said it is a well-known fact that communities with a higher concentration of minorities face more environmental issues. Flint is a mostly African-American community, and parallels can be drawn with the recent issue in the Fruitvale district of Oakland, where the water was contaminated with lead, she said.

The panel provided the audience with ways for the anyone to help contribute to the fight for clean water. Meghan Kensler encouraged students to vote and have their voices heard, to divest from major banks, donate to organizations and get involved at the local level.

“The children are the future,” she said.

Sayers-Rood performed two traditional Native American songs, “Grandmother Song” and “Hummingbird Song.”

Lizama regaled the audience with stories from his experience at Standing Rock, having been on the front lines himself.

“There were clouds of mace and tear gas. I yelled at the officers ‘Cut it out or I’m coming after you,’” he said. “There were people freezing to death.”

Lizama said attack dogs were released and martial law was declared.

“[There was one officer there] really having a blast doing it. He aimed his gun at my face and smiled, but right before he pulled the trigger, another officer pulled his shoulder away and he missed,” he said. “I was having a great time because I was sticking it to the man.”

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