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“According to this lawsuit, if you opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline, you’re a terrorist.”
That was the very accurate headline on Grist.com this past August, when Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline, filed a broad legal assault against Greenpeace and many other organizations that opposed the highly controversial fossil fuel project.
Why should you care? Because this lawsuit represents a many-faceted and very real threat to everyone’s First Amendment rights to protest and organize in defense of people and planet.
As Robert Reich explains in this video, this is a clear example of a SLAPP suit, which stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” Speaking about this suit to Grist, Tara Houska, a tribal attorney and national campaigns director at the indigenous environmental nonprofit Honor the Earth, defined a SLAPP suit as “a way to try to silence free speech by trying to cost the defendant — organizations or movements or individuals, sometimes — money.”
But these types of lawsuits are far from the only threat. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, more than 30 separate anti-protest bills have been introduced in the country since Nov. 8 last year.
The American tradition of dissent and protest is crucial to social progress — from the civil rights movement, to the women’s rights movement, to the LGBT rights movement and onward. And these actions are desperate attacks by desperate corporations and politicians looking to take down anyone who speaks the truth in this country — that includes Indigenous leaders fighting for their rights and to protect their water, supporting organizations like RAN and Greenpeace, or responsible journalists who report the facts.
But these attacks won't work. There is a broad and growing movement that is supporting Indigenous and grassroots leadership to stop disastrous pipelines like DAPL, the Keystone XL pipeline, and other projects that threaten clean water, destroy communities and slice through Indigenous lands. We are following the money and telling banks like JPMorgan Chase to stop backing these projects. We are working with partners from the Gulf Coast to Canada. We are witnessing greater support from people who are saying “Enough is Enough — it’s time for a clean energy future.”
We are standing firm against corporate greed, against human rights abuses, against governmental overreach, and against threats to our future.
They think they can stop us from fighting for people and planet.
But we are just getting started.
Anti-protest bills would 'attack right to speak out' under Donald Trump
According to this lawsuit, if you opposed DAPL, you’re a terrorist