About 25 people stood outside the KTVB Channel 7 studio Friday to encourage local news organizations to dedicate more time to reporting on the North Dakota Access Pipeline and related protests that have gone on for months.
Most of the protesters held signs and waved at cars on Fairview Avenue who honked in support. One protester used a megaphone to chant at passing traffic about the possible hazards of the pipeline.
Decisions like the fate of the pipeline can set national precedent that puts corporate oil interests over public welfare interests, said Deb Gold, of Boise. That, she and others said, make it relevant to Idaho as well.
If “oil and gas interests become threatened here, they will use the same tactics (being used) in North Dakota,” Gold said.
Erika Rodriguez, of Boise, said she joined the protest in hopes the press would be methodical in its coverage, to make sure the stories show all sides of the story. She insisted that local media needs to treat the North Dakota protests as a local issue.
“The message that we’re trying to send here is that this is an issue that encompasses everything,” she said. “And so if we could all get together and realize that this is like basically the militarization of police force, this is an environmental issue, this is a cultural issue — all of those issues combined — I think that when we put our force together we can really get somewhere. So I want to call people out to make this a revolutionary event.”
Like many Idaho news outlets, the Statesman largely relies on wire services like the Associated Press and its own company, McClatchy, for coverage of national news such as the pipeline.
Protests over construction of the $3.8 billion North Dakota pipeline began in April. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe criticized the project and said members are worried it could contaminate the water there, which is why the protesters refer to themselves as “water protectors.” More than 500 people have been arrested during the protests since August.
In late November, law enforcement used water cannons in freezing weather to disperse the protesters. Officials defended the move because they said protesters had become more aggressive. One woman, Sophia Wilansky, suffered a serious arm injury amid a skirmish and was hospitalized in Minneapolis. Her family and protesters say she was injured by a projectile that came from law enforcement, though police say she was injured by an explosive device rigged by protesters. On Wednesday, she was upgraded from serious to satisfactory condition, according to AP reports.