Activists hold prayer walk and march in opposition of Dakota Pipeline

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Approximately 100 people took to the streets of Memphis Friday in opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Organizers of a Dakota Pipeline protest planned the event in less than an hour, and held the march despite the city denying their request for a marching permit.

The march got underway shortly after 7:30 p.m. Friday. It started at Beale Street Landing, went down Main Street, and ended at City Hall. The group of activists stood in solidarity with marches across the country that are speaking out against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The message: Water is life.

"Water is the only thing that matters. Our earth is the only thing that matters," organizer Zanya Cruz said.

Organizers of the "I Stand with Standing Rock" prayer walk said the prayer walk is anticipated to be peaceful. They feel comfortable moving forward without a permit.

"If you deny a permit for a protest, I am going to show up," Cruz said. "To me, this is an illegitimate government so the filing for the permit - that was just a courtesy."

City of Memphis officials said the organizers did not apply within the 14 days required by the city ordinance and the protest did not fall under the category of a "spontaneous news event" which would have only required three days notice.

"That we need a permit to march for something we feel is our right," organizer Maria Oceja said.

Another concern mentioned in the email to organizers from city officials was the disruption of business on Main Street during the march.

Organizers said they have the blessings of downtown business owners and believe the march will increase business.

"That excuse that 'Oh it's going to disrupt economic flow or anything.' That's a complete lie. People are going to want something after this," Oceja said.

Organizers said they want to make it clear this is not a protest but a peaceful march in opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"This unity is something powerful, otherwise there would be no resistance," Cruz said.

Once the marchers reached City Hall, they participated in a program that included dances by indigenous people.

Despite being turned down for a permit, the prayer walk went on as planned with assistance from MPD officers who blocked streets and cleared a path for those in the march.

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