A fundraiser to support the long-running protests against a pipeline in the US State of North Dakota has crossed the $1 million milestone, far beyond its original goal.
The organizer of the fundraising project had asked for a modest $5,000 to provide food and other commodities to a few dozen people who were camping at one of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)’s construction sites.
However, much to his surprise, organizer Ho Waste Wakiya Wicasa found that he had raised over a million dollars, raking in a whopping $200,000 between Thursday and Friday alone.
“It still feels unreal sometimes because it is such an astronomical figure to me,” Wicasa said.
“The money goes as quickly as it comes, but without it having been as much as it is, we certainly wouldn’t have been able to be as productive as we have been in the fight,” he added.
The protesters, who have been camping at the construction site since August, have so far received more than $3 million in donations to help cover the legal fees of an ongoing lawsuit against Energy Transfer, the company in charge of constructing DAPL.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, along with more than 100 other Native American tribes that the four-state pipeline would destroy their sacred sites and contaminate their drinking water.
A US federal judge ruled in September that the construction of the pipeline should continue, rejecting a request by the tribes to halt the work.
On Friday, more than 140 Native Americans and other protesters were arrested by police, on charges of trespassing private property in the path of the $3.8 billion project.
Officers in riot helmets used pepper spray and shot beanbag rounds on some of the estimated 330 protesters as helicopters flew overhead.
In previous confrontations, security guards from Energy Transfer had unleashed their dogs on the protesters, injuring many of them.
The federal government has twice asked the pipeline operator to voluntarily pause construction near the disputed area while the authorities reconsider the project’s route.
The 1,100-mile (1,770-km) pipeline would be the first to transport crude oil from Bakken shale, a vast oil formation in North Dakota, to refineries in the US Gulf Coast.