Above Photo: The Dallas Fire-Rescue responded to the Hilton Hotel as indigenous and environmental groups held a rally outside Energy Transfer’s special meeting of unit holders in Dallas. (Stewart F. House/Special Contributor)
Two protesters were arrested at a North Dallas hotel Thursday morning after interrupting a shareholders meeting to denounce the final phase of construction on Energy Transfer Partners’ latest pipeline.
Indigenous rights activists Waniya Locke, 36, and Cherri Foytlin, 46, were booked into the Dallas County jail just after noon and face charges of disorderly conduct. They were detained by two off-duty officers working at the meeting, police spokesman Carlos Almeida said.
“These are two beautiful, strong, resilient indigenous women … the way they uphold themselves is something to be admired,” Society of Native Nations representative Yolanda Blue Horse said. “They’re making sacrifices for all of us.”
Dozens of protesters gathered in and around the Hilton Dallas/Park Cities in the 5900 block of Luther Lane with signs reading “Caution: All pipelines leak” and “We want revenge.”
Locke and Foytlin reportedly entered the meeting itself to protest the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, set to snake around 200 miles from Nederland, Texas, to St. James, La., by the end of the year, according to the company’s website.
Controversy has erupted around the pipeline, with environmentalists and indigenous rights groups suing to saying the project will cause ecological damage while other Louisiana groups campaign for the economic development they expect the project to draw.
ETP owns four pipeline projects, including the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.
“They are putting their profits over the safety of the people and the safety of the planet,” protester Lee Daugherty said. “The continued attack they’re doing on this environment and on native lands will not go unconfronted.”
Minutes before the two women were put into Dallas police cruisers, Foytlin posted a Facebook Live video from inside the meeting that appears to show her being restrained and then forced out of the conference room.
“Not today, colonizers,” she says in the 17-minute video. “Mni wiconi, water is life.”
Officers also removed several protesters from the Hilton’s lobby. Dallas Fire-Rescue was dispatched in response to an automatic fire alarm but determined there was no fire, spokesman Jason Evans said.
“We understand that there are varying opinions on our country’s need for infrastructure to help meet our energy needs and respect the right of everyone to lawfully protest,” an ETP spokeswoman said in a written statement, “however, it is unfortunate when protesters cross the line and use illegal and harmful actions that jeopardize the safety of those around them, which is what happened today.”
Protesters deny any destructive action on their part.
“Our rallies and protests have always been nonviolent,” Blue Horse said. “We cannot do things that go against what we’re for, and that’s protection of the earth.”