WASHINGTON - When you see groups of people marching and protesting on the streets, you might assume they are passionate and knowledgeable about their cause. But things are not always as they seem.
As teepees pop up on the National Mall in the shadows of the Washington Monument, FOX 5 set out to learn who got permission to set up their tents.
“We had help from DC Action Lab, which is a local organizing group that helps,” said Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “What we try to do is go to a local community and respect whatever protocols they have and so they worked with the National Park Service I believe and worked out everything for the permits.”
DC Action Lab bills themselves as an organization that mobilizes everything from flash street actions to coalition building. On its website, you can view some of the projects they have worked on, which includes organizing dozens of protests and sit-ins.
On the National Mall, we found there were some people supporting a cause that they were still trying to figure out exactly what they were rallying for.
“I came out here to help set up teepees and to march to the White House on Friday,” said one person.
But when we asked him about the Dakota Access pipeline, he told us, “Yeah, it’s umm, pretty much being green-lit at the moment, but what is your exact question?”
We asked another protester the particular states the oil pipeline goes through.
“I don’t know for sure,” he said. “I can tell you that it is just going through a whole lot of Native American lands it shouldn’t be going through because I understand it is a violation of treaties.”
We then asked him how long the pipeline is, he responded, “Too long.”
Another protester said he did not have a list of facts about the oil pipeline handy on him. When we asked him the same question about the states it goes through, he said, “I could say a few of them, but I am not an expert so I would probably speak to somebody who organized the event.”
It is not uncommon for scores of people to travel to the nation’s capital for causes unknown, and at times, for causes that turn violent.
DC Action Lab did not organize protests on Inauguration Day. But on this day, 230 people were arrested for wreaking havoc under the guise of protest. Of those arrested on Jan. 20, 214 of them have been indicted and formally charged with felony rioting. Of those 214 indicted, more than three-fourths of them are from somewhere other than the District of Columbia, Maryland or Virginia.
But at this ongoing protest on the National Mall that is demanding the government to back down from taking over land Native American tribes call home, FOX 5 was surprisingly told by some of the protesters that on this public federal property in the shadows of the obelisk that represents all Americans, we were not allowed to film because our photographer is a man.