A small victory was celebrated Sunday for thousands protesting construction of a controversial pipeline in N. Dakota. The Standing Rock Tribe announced the US Army Corps of Engineers will deny a crucial easement the pipeline contractor needs to move the project forward. But groups who have been protesting the project right here in Tampa Bay are worried about what the future holds.
An evacuation deadline is looming in Standing Rock, North Dakota, as brutal winter weather sets in. But supporters of the tribe are glad many plan to stay put, continuing to raise their voices against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
"I'm so humbled and so proud of our people. There is a strength there that is amazing," said Joelle Clark, director of United Warriors Society of Florida.
The group calls those in Standing Rock not protestors, but protectors, of water and the environment.
"When their pipeline breaks or leaks, it's not going to stay in Standing Rock. It will travel down the Missouri River and destroy the water for many millions of communities and Americans throughout the country," said Sal Serbin, American Indian Movement of Florida executive director.
So those supporting the Standing Rock efforts are encouraged that pipeline developers have a new hurdle with permits possibly being blocked, but they say the fight is far from over.
"We hope that it's true. But we've heard this before," Serbin said.
"They weren't supposed to have been digging anyway. The Corps of Engineers had already told them to cease for at least 30 days and they've need honored that," said Clark.
Supporters in Sarasota gathered for a fundraiser Sunday, raising over $5,000 to support the ongoing encampment in Standing Rock, and they're hoping people understand the issue spans far beyond the Dakotas, with another similar pipeline planned right here in Florida.
"We do have water protectors here in Florida and we're going to have a whole heck of a lot more of them because our water is our life and it's sacred," said Clark.