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They stood shoulder to shoulder, signs held high: Stop Line 3 – No DAPL. They rolled and brushed paint and they chanted indigenous chants in downtown Oakland.
Hundreds of members of 12 local activist groups painted 12 separate murals on the pavement of Clay Street between 12th and 14th streets Saturday urging the Biden administration to halt U.S. oil and gas projects.
“It feels so powerful to take over the streets and share our message of what a world looks like that has no harm and no fossil fuels,” said Isabella Zizi, the event’s emcee and a member of the Northern Cheyenne, Arikara and Muskogee Creek Nations.
“Line 3” is an oil pipeline under construction that would connect tar sands in Canada to Wisconsin. “DAPL” is the Dakota Access Pipeline, a functioning oil pipeline. Activists from Zizi’s organization, Idle No More SF Bay, and other local and national activist groups oppose both projects.
The in-person event included poetry, song and mural painting, and was conducted simultaneously with a virtual event via Zoom that included live updates from Oakland.
“We are part of a national movement to stop Line 3 and DAPL. We have to transition off fossil fuels,” said David Solnit, an artist with the Climate Justice Street Mural Project, which uses murals to illustrate the issue of climate change. (Yes, he’s Rebecca Solnit’s brother, and no, he wasn’t mansplaining.)
Participants who showed up for the downtown Oakland event wore masks and observed social distancing protocols as they lifted up signs and banners and worked on the murals.
Bright orange poppies glowed against a black background in one mural, illustrating the beauty of the natural world, underneath the inscription, “Just transition now.”
Fourteen-year-old Ramauri Cash of Oakland helped design and paint a mural. As he danced to the music blaring from the loudspeaker at the event, Cash said, “Every time I go to a rally or march, I feel so happy because I know it’s going to benefit others and not just myself.”
As the last touches were brushed on the murals and the event came to a close, the activists lined up on Clay Street, holding their signs high.
To close the event, “I will lead a Woman Warrior song,” Zizi announced. “I would like to be with my other indigenous sisters.” Women clad in bright red garments stepped forward and joined in song.
“It was really nice to finally get together in person and work on a creative project, despite COVID-19,” said Julie Wineger of Berkeley, a member of the Poor People’s Campaign.