In support of indigenous people demonstrating against a North Dakota pipeline, Mainers call on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to take a stronger stand.

Mainers angry with the treatment of indigenous people in the Midwest gathered on the sidewalk outside a Hillary Clinton campaign office in Portland on Wednesday night to pressure the Democrat to take a stronger stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline project that has resulted in violent protests in North Dakota.

Carrying signs that read “Take a Stand! Which Side Are You On?” “Water is Life” and “I Stand with Standing Rock,” the protesters came together on the sidewalk at 622 Congress St., urging motorists to honk their horns in support. Others chanted, “Say no to DPL, hey Clinton, what the hell?”

The protest started at 4 p.m. and grew to a few dozen people during the evening commute.

“She has to take a stand against the pipeline,” said Alba Briggs. 25, of Portland, who helped organize Wednesday’s protest. “What I want to see happen is that people around the country make a big enough deal that our leaders can’t look away. They have to address it. Our leaders have to be pressed.”

A Clinton campaign spokesperson in Maine did not return calls or emails Wednesday night seeking comment. A week ago, Clinton’s national campaign issued a statement saying “all voices should be heard and all views considered in federal infrastructure projects. Now, all of the parties involved – including the federal government, the pipeline company and contractors, the state of North Dakota, and the tribes – need to find a path forward that serves the broadest public interest. As that happens, it’s important that on the ground in North Dakota, everyone respects demonstrators’ rights to protest peacefully, and workers’ rights to do their jobs safely.”

That wasn’t good enough for Llewellyn Pinkerton, 21, of Portland. He said he was disappointed that Clinton hasn’t taken a strong stand against the pipeline. “As the nominee for the Democratic ticket, she should have more of an opinion,” he said. “This shouldn’t be a political issue. This is about people being pepper-sprayed and maced. It’s not something you can be middle-of-the-road about.”

The Dakota Access Pipeline project would transport crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. It would cross the Missouri River near tribal lands of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Tribal members, environmentalists and others are protesting the pipeline on the grounds that it violates treaties with the tribe and threatens drinking water for people across the upper Midwest.

The protests are at a critical juncture, because crews are ready to begin tunneling under the river.

Matthew Braun, a 27-year-old artist from Portland, joined the protest Wednesday because he finds “intolerable” the U.S. government’s long history of breaking treaties with native people and because he believes extracting fossil fuels from the ground is bad policy. He plans to travel to Standing Rock over the Thanksgiving holiday to join the protests there, and will bring printmaking equipment to make T-shirts, banners and posters.

More than 150 protesters were arrested last week in North Dakota, and the protests have grown increasingly violent.

The images of people being attacked by police made him feel sick, he said, adding that he thinks such images are motivating people from across the country to pay attention and take action.

“These people are trying to defend their ancestry and their culture,” Braun said. “Seeing the police brutality and reading about how they’ve started tearing up burial sites is just too much. They’ve crossed the line. This is a crucial time.”

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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