Jaden Smith and his younger sister Willow have gotten political and are using their celebrity status to join the protest against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (or DAPL). The DAPL is a massive interstate crude oil pipeline currently under construction in North Dakota. The controversy comes from the fact that the multi-billion dollar pipeline cuts through sacred lands and ancient ancestral burial grounds of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
In addition, as Jaden and Willow Smith noted during their protest efforts, the DAPL also potentially threatens the tribe’s access to safe and clean water, as the proposed path of the pipeline is directly under several critical waterways, including the vital and expansive Missouri river.
The DAPL protests have been going on both onsite and around the country for months, with hundreds of protesters camping out at the disputed construction sites over the summer. The protest, which is now supported by celebrity activist Jaden Smith, is expected to continue until a resolution is reached. For the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a resolution means #NoDAPL. For the people behind the controversial project, a resolution means that construction continues.
Jaden Smith and sister Willow jumped noticeably into the DAPL fray over the weekend, reports Teen Vogue. However, from the looks of things, they’ve been involved in the #NoDAPL movement for a while.
Last Saturday, Willow Smith used her impressive social media presence to spread the word through Instagram by way of a political cartoon. The cartoon posted by Jaden Smith’s little sis portrayed the struggle between the Standing Rock tribe and the U.S. government — not to mention privately hired security goons.
The political cartoon shared by Willow Smith included the caption #nodapl, and it came just days after what had been a largely non-violent and peaceful protest exploded into mass arrests, violence, and even fires as police agencies from several states work to remove protesters from the disputed area. As the Washington Post reports, Jaden Smith and his sister got more heavily involved in the political drama after nearly 150 DAPL protesters were arrested on or around October 27.
Some believe that it may have been some of what took place during those arrests that led Jaden Smith to become more publicly involved in the protest effort, as many involved accused arresting agencies of gross human rights violations. Reportedly, DAPL protesters that were arrested were held in what have been described as “dog kennels,” and had numbers written on their arms in permanent marker.
Some who were involved in and/or witnessed the mass arrests likened the scenario to the Holocaust, so it’s not surprising that Jaden and Willow have gotten involved in the protest.
Before Willow Smith’s very public Instagram #nodapl post, though, both she and big bro Jaden were already heavily involved in lending their celebrity statuses to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s efforts to stop the DAPL. In fact, on October 23, Jaden and Willow Smith joined a public rally and protest in Los Angeles. The event, which included a solidarity march that both Jaden and Willow Smith joined, took place at MacArthur Park.
Protesters, including Jaden and Willow Smith, carried picket signs. Willow’s sign read, “NO DAPL PROTECT OUR WATER.”
In addition to picketing, Willow Smith also lent her considerable voice to a rousing chant of “Can’t drink oil! Keep it in the soil!” Then she posted video to Instagram.
Despite the efforts of Jaden and Willow Smith, as well as many other celebrities including Shailene Woodley (who was arrested during a DAPL protest in North Dakota) and Mark Ruffalo (who donated solar panels so protesters could bunker down and hold their ground through the North Dakota winter), the DAPL protests are far from over.
The U.S. government, as well as local governments, is cracking down on protesters. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is vowing to continue their collective fight. Since Jaden and Willow Smith’s public participation in the protest, however, the United Nations and Amnesty International have sent observers to the protests to ensure human rights aren’t being violated.
So far, Jaden and Willow Smith have stayed away from the on-site protests in North Dakota, but fans are now urging them to make a trip to the DAPL itself and lend their voices at the source of the problem.
[Featured Image by Mike Coppola/Getty Images]