NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- Many Western New Yorkers are sharing concerns and a willingness to help those involved in the ongoing Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota.
The protests have entered a more critical phase after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordered that activists leave their camps by Dec. 5th, citing violence and worsening weather conditions.
The protestors, who call themselves "protectors", aim to stop the pipeline that is being built on sacred native lands. They also cite safety concerns with what the pipeline could mean for water sources in the area.
The protectors have been subjected to violent clashes with police, often resulting in arrests. They say they've recently had water sprayed on them from hoses, despite the cold temperatures. Police claim that the activists are also responsible for inciting some of the violence.
Members of WNY's Seneca Nation have traveled to North Dakota to join the fight against the pipeline over the past few months.
In Niagara Falls, a fundraiser was held Saturday, with all of the proceeds going to help the camps at Standing Rock. It was organized by a group calling themselves "WNY Stands With Standing Rock."
"This is not something that we're going to let be swept under the rug. And of course it's an issue for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe that's there," said fundraiser organizer Shana Martin. "But more than that, this is a human rights issue and it's an environmental issue, and that matters to everyone."
The fundraiser was held at the Evening Star Concert Hall in Niagara Falls. It featured live music, raffles, and food and drinks.