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Louisvillians Gather In Solidarity With Standing Rock Protesters

The air beneath the Big Four Bridge Saturday afternoon was for a moment filled with drum beats and smoke from burning sage.

A group of 100 or so people gathered in the park along the Ohio River to rally support for protesters some 1,000 miles away in North Dakota fighting the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline project.

"Water is life," said Tailor Stytle, echoing the rallying cry of people who have for months been pleading to stop the project that would carry crude oil through a pipe to Illinois from North Dakota.

The pipeline would cross the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and some fear the project could lead to water contamination and tarnish sacred grounds.

"It's just not right to me," Stytle said.

She'd come to the rally in Louisville with her sister, Keisha Bruce. Each bundled themselves in jackets and held handmade signs.

Bruce dismissed the country's dependence on fossil fuels and made a plea for a transition to more renewable energy sources.

"We need to care for each other and about each other more," she said.

The protests in North Dakota have turned violent, at times.

Law enforcement have used force to tamp down protesters, including arrest and crowd-suppression weaponry such as firing rubber bullets and fire hoses, according to a reportfrom The New York Times.

Protesters have been ordered to vacate the federally owned land on which many have set up camp in teepees and tents.

It appears few are preparing to leave. In fact, it seems many are digging in as winter settles in.

"I really hope more than anything that the people of Standing Rock will beat this," Stytle said. "It's just not fair."

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.