Mark Ruffalo Speaks Out About The Pipeline Protest

by Maitri Suhas

Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo spent three days this week in North Dakota to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others in protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. On Thursday, tension came to a head when police arrived at the camp in riot gear and deployed pepper spray and sound cannons before making at least 141 arrests, according to the Los Angeles Times. Ruffalo spoke about the violence in North Dakota with Jack Tapper on CNN and called attention to the increased police presence at the protests.

As Tapper states in the beginning of the segment, police arrived with armored vehicles and riot gear late on Thursday. Ruffalo told Tapper that he heard stories first-hand from protesters who witnessed the violent event. "I met a girl who had her arm broken a few days ago," he said. When he went to a site where the protesters had set up a road block "there were two police officers with AR-15s with their fingers right by the trigger... it was very, very aggressive," Ruffalo claimed.

Authorities tell a different story. According to Morton County Sheriff, Kyle Kirchmeier, police arrived because the camp the protesters had built was blocking roadways on private land and they were trespassing, the New York Times reports. According to the L.A. Times, authorities claim protesters were "setting fires, tossing Molotov cocktails and, in one instance, pulling out a gun and firing on officers."

For his part, Ruffalo emphasized that the protestors were not there to stand against police, but against the pipeline. "I've never witnessed so peaceful a stand," he claimed. The Spotlight actor also claimed that all protesters on the front lines had received some sort of peaceful protest training.

The actor made a plea for the public not to turn away from the protests. "There's people being really hurt there. It's very scary. They're just like us; we can't forget our humanity," he said.

Ruffalo is not the first celebrity to support the Standing Rock Sioux to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Reverend Jesse Jackson joined him there this week, and earlier in October, actor and activist Shailene Woodley was arrested on trespassing charges while protesting.

While the pipeline is being protested, project developers believe it "is the safest, most cost-effective and environmentally responsible way to move crude oil, removing dependency on rails and trucks," according to CNN.