Why People Are Praising Shailene Woodley for Getting Arrested

October 12th 2016

"Divergent" star and activist Shailene Woodley was arrested in North Dakota on Monday after participating in the ongoing protest of the proposed North Dakota Access Pipeline. She and 26 others were charged with criminal trespassing.

The pipeline has engendered months of protests and legal challenges from environmental groups and Native Americans who oppose the crude oil pipeline project, arguing that it will deepen the nation's reliance on fossil fuels and that a spill would pollute the Missouri River, the source of water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation is nearby.

These criticisms have played out on social media under hashtags such as #NoDAPL and #WaterIsLife.

On Monday, #FreeShailene was added to that list. (She has been released from custody following her arrest.)

Woodley had been streaming the protest live on Facebook when, two hours into her stream, officers confronted and arrested her after they say she was "identified."

The 1,172 mile-long pipeline would carry more than 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day between North Dakota and Illinois. Its proponents, including the Texas-based energy company responsible for it, Energy Transfer Partners, said that the $3.7 billion project will create jobs in the region and improve the economy while being the safest way to transport the oil.

The North Dakota Access Pipeline was originally intended to pass just north of Bismarck, North Dakota, a city that is nearly 90 percent white. After complaints about potential environmental damage, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that the path was not viable because of its potential to harm water supply wells, among other issues. The pipeline was later rerouted to within 20 miles of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

The change has prompted some to argue that the decision reflects environmental racism and continues a history in North America of sacrificing the rights of indigenous people to economic interests. (ATTN: has reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers for a response to this accusation and will update the story when we receive a reply.)

A pipeline leaked in Canada in late July, leaving the James Smith Cree Nation with a poisoned water supply and a feeling of abandonment after 250,000 liters of crude oil spilled into a river that is a source of water for thousands.

Protests against the North Dakota Access Pipeline have been led by Native American groups, over 100 of which have arrived at Standing Rock to oppose the pipeline.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a complaint to delay construction, arguing that burial grounds and other sacred sites are nearby. A federal appeals court denied the request on Sunday, the eve of the federal Columbus Day holiday, which critics prefer to observe as Indigenous People's Day.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said in a post on Facebook that the court's decision was a "disappointment" but that "it is in no way the end of our fight to protect our land, waters, people and sacred places."

In a joint statement, the Department of Justice, Department of the Army, and the Department of the Interior repeated their request that all construction be halted within 20 miles of Lake Oahe, which borders the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

The agencies ordered a temporary construction delay a month ago after the Obama administration halted portions of construction to review whether the project complied with federal law and was properly consulting with local Native American groups.

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