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Dakota Access oil pipeline protestors march through Syracuse

Hundreds of protestors opposing a controversial Midwest oil pipeline marched through downtown Syracuse over the weekend. They walked six miles from the Onondaga Nation Arena to downtown Syracuse, carrying signs about protecting water sources.

The protestors to the Dakota Access Pipeline gathered in Clinton Square afterward, where they sang and danced. The spirited mood was vastly different from demonstrations at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota where the pipeline is supposed to be built. Opposition has turned hostile as police have begun arresting protestors and using militarized tactics like rubber  bullets to stop them from halting construction on the pipeline.

Brian Patterson from the Oneida Indian Nation visited Standing Rock. He said the situation is only getting worse.

"Those drills, the drill for under water is inside of the camp," Patterson said. "They are marching and harassing the camps every day, every day."

Other representatives from central New York Native American nations urged those at the Syracuse event to support the Standing Rock reservation with donations for their legal defense or by visiting the front lines themselves. They fear that if the pipeline is built, it could pollute the area's water source. Jeanne Shenandoah from the Onondaga Nation compared it to the once-heavily contaminated Onondaga Lake.

Credit Payne Horning / WRVO News
Jeanne Shenandoah from the Onondaga Nation leads a rally in Clinton Square in Syracuse.

"Look where we are, a stone's throw's from this toxic pit of industrial waste right here," Shenandoah said. "This body of water that bears our name."

Honeywell International is still working to clean Onondaga Lake from its decades of pollution. 

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.