Best Thing Sacramento City Council Did In 2016: Pass Standing Rock Resolution

Group shot of members of Native Protectors for Environmental Justice (left and middle)  and Italian Cultural Society (right) in the Cit...

Group shot of members of Native Protectors for Environmental Justice (left and middle)
 and Italian Cultural Society (right) in the City Council Chambers after the meeting. |
By Dan Bacher | December 27, 2016 |

On December 6, the Sacramento City Council voted 5 to 2 to approve a resolution backing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The City Council joins Davis, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle and many other cities across the nation in opposing the environmentally destructive project. In my opinion, it was the best thing that the Sacramento Council did in 2016.
The resolution had been originally scheduled for the consent calendar after Councilmember Angelique Ashy and others were moved by the testimony of those who had been to Standing Rock to support the water protectors at the previous council meeting.
However, questions about the resolution from Councilmembers Jeff Harris and Larry Carr arose about whether it was in the council’s jurisdiction to oppose the pipeline, so the Council removed the item  for a separate discussion and vote.
Harris opposed the resolution, saying, “It’s out of our purview. We’re all going to be using oil, every one of us in this room. We have to be very realistic about what form of oil we are going to use and how it is transported.”
Likewise, Carr said, “I’m not against Indigenous People or anybody. It isn’t about the oil. It's whether it’s the City of Sacramento’s job to make a resolution on how a pipeline in North Dakota is done.”
During the public comment period, supporters of the resolution, including Cody Elliott and his dad, Wes, of Native Protectors for Environmental Justice urged the council to vote on the measure rather than to delay a vote.
“The Sacramento City Council will be only doing what other cities such as Davis have already done,” said Cody Elliott (Haudenosaunee). “The Energy Transfer Partners that are building the pipeline said they are fully committed to completing this project. The council needs to support the resolution.”
Others who spoke on behalf of the resolution included James Quaundah, Susan Reece, Dana Meza, Kevin Carter and Bill Cerruti.
The hour long discussion of the resolution included the Council’s introduction and withdrawal of a substitute motion to move the item to January, 
Finally, Councilmember Eric Guerra made the motion to vote on the resolution, Resolution No. 2016-0418, seconded by Ashby.
Guerra, Ashby, Jay Schenirer, Rick Jennings, and Allen Warren voted  yes, while Jeff Harris and Larry Carr opposed the resolution. Steve Hansen, a supporter of the measure, and retiring Mayor Kevin Johnson were absent.
The resolution reads:
Section 1. The City of Sacramento supports the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s opposition to construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline across the Tribe’s ancestral lands, waters, and sacred sites.
Section 2. The City of Sacramento calls upon the United States and the Army Corps of Engineers to obtain the free, prior, and informed consent of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe before taking any action regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline that would harm or destroy the Tribe’s ancestral lands, waters, or sacred sites.
In a conference call between members of the Italian Cultural Society of Sacramento and Latino and Native American groups arranged by Guerra before the meeting, they agreed to remove Section 3, which referred to establishing Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Sacramento. The removed section read:
Section 3. To commemorate and support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, the second Monday in October is hereby proclaimed to be Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the City of Sacramento
The Council directed staff to return with individual resolutions recognizing Indigenous People’s Day and Italian Heritage Day . 
“I'm proud of a city that within a week’s time can turn around and support people in a different part of the country," said Ashby about her reason for voting yes. 
After the meeting, Bill Cerrutti of the Italian Cultural Society, said, “This was a victory today. I think that Italian Americans and Native Americans reached an agreement where we can support each others’ communities.”
Steve Payan of the Native Protectors for Environmental Justice said, “I’m surprised — the resolution almost didn’t pass. But it eventually  passed because the Standing Rock Sioux’s battle against the pipeline is such a noble cause.”
Lilliana Mendoza (Maya) of Davis said the passage of the resolution “really touched on the ability of humanity to connect, to understand the connections between one another.”
“This connection is what I think moved Councilmember Warren to change his vote from no to yes on the resolution. Being a human being and being connected is what Standing with Standing Rock and the Water Protectors is all about,” explained Mendoza.
In the previous council meeting on November 29, Councilmember Ashby made the motion to put the resolution on the consent calendar, noting the urgency of the situation at Standing Rock. The consent calendar allows the council to approve  a number of items together without discussion or individual motions. 
The council made the decision after a dozen people, including local water protectors who recently traveled to North Dakota to join the Tribe and their allies on the front lines, passionately spoke before the council about the urgent need to back the movement to stop the pipeline.
“While I was in North Dakota, the police arrested me and other water protectors,” said Liljana Adams, a member of the United Auburn Indian Community. “They strip searched us and put us in dog kennels. I’m a mother of three children, but I left them at home because I knew they wouldn’t be safe there. I hope my community supports this resolution.”
Before the meeting, Tina Marie, a mother of two boys who had just returned from a trip to Standing Rock, told me, “I have never witnessed racism, sexism and violence by the state like I witnessed while at Standing Rock. It was literally like walking back into the 1960s. Law enforcement was brutalizing unarmed, peaceful people for protecting their land, legally theirs under an 1851 treaty with the U.S. government.”
“I was there for 3 days in the main camp,” she said. “Eighty percent of the people in the camp were women and the police shot rubber bullets at them at point blank range.”
Thanks go to the Councilmembers for standing with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their many thousands of allies across the country. The Native Protectors for Environmental Justice wrote the resolution and organized support for it.
Two days before the meeting, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes.
While this is a big victory for the Tribe and their backers, the Energy Transfer Partners, the corporation constructing the pipeline, vows to complete the pipeline as planned. The struggle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline won't be over until the pipeline is rejected once and for all. 
For more information, go to:…

For an interesting analysis of the Standing Rock struggle’s significance, read Mark Trahant’s  “What Does Our Nation’s Standing Rock Moment Look Like?” at:

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