Denver high school students lead oil pipeline protest at Capitol

Dakota Access Pipeline protest in Denver

Dakota Access Pipeline protest in Denver

DENVER — Three high schools in the metro area led the charge in a rally against the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline that brought out hundreds of protesters in Denver on Saturday night.

The White House said no final decisions have been made regarding a final approval of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

The base of the controversy is more than 500 miles away on the Standing Rock Reservation, but for the hundreds of protesters in Denver the issue hits much closer to home.

“This makes me feel empowered honestly,” East High School student and president of the Native American Club Joi Lynch said.

Denver East began the rally process with an assembly at school.

“It was just an educational assembly and we were just talking about what is happening at Standing Rock and what we, the youth, could do to help out,” East High School student Nancy Palacios-Casillas said.

Manual and Denver South high schools soon joined the movement and by Saturday night, 19 schools were represented at the protest.

“We ended up coming to a conclusion that we needed to make people aware because many people don’t know about it,” Palacios-Casillas said.

The protesters began at the State Capitol, before marching down 16th Street and returning to the Capitol.

The 1,100-mile Dakota Pipeline Project crosses several states with intentions to carry more than 400,000 barrels of oil every day from North Dakota to Illinois.

The students say their immediate concern is for those on Standing Rock Reservation, where the proposed pipeline would damage sacred land and their source of water.

“It’s prophesized that the seventh generation is to rise and that’s me,” Lynch said. “I want to come out here and encourage youth to take a stand and not be afraid to take a stand.”

The complex controversy includes business interests, tribal treaties, the federal government, and now a large group of high school students in Denver.

“Our main goal is to stop this pipeline because it effects 26 million people downstream including Denver,” Lynch said. “This widely affects us as well.”

The Denver Police Department assisted with blocking traffic as the protesters made their way from the Capitol to 16th Street and back without incident.