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New Yorkers Create Unique Ways to Stand with Standing Rock

Protesters may have gained a victory in the Dakota Access Pipeline battle, but many say they’re not leaving until the job is done. And for New Yorkers, the call to help is strong. Melissa Cáceres [KAH-SERRES] reports from Brooklyn, where locals are finding a unique way to get involved.

CACERES 1: In a bike repair shop in Williamsburg, 31-year-old George Pingeon is nervous. He and seven other volunteers are rushing to build three energy generator bikes for the protesters near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. But Pingeon says bike motor parts aren’t ready. (0:18)

PINGEON 1 I’m a little stressed about this inverter situation but we’ll get it done. We’ll get it done. (0:24)

CACERES 2: Energy sources are scarce in the North Dakota camps. Each stationary bike produces electricity by pedaling. Pingeon says he hopes the bikes will be just as useful there as they were in New York during Hurricane Sandy. (0:37)

PINGEON 2 One tandem bike was charging 30 phones at the same time. Just one system. (0:44)

CACERES 3: The bikes will be shipped to Standing Rock in the next few days. Once they arrive, a volunteer will teach the protesters how they work. (0:51)

PINGEON 3 Someone will be there to set it up. But then it’ll be theirs. It’s a present. (0:55)

CACERES 4: Pingeon is a middle school French teacher and his friend 51-year-old Brennan Cavanaugh is a photographer. Their passion for social justice keeps them involved in projects like these. Cavanaugh says it feels meaningful. (1:07)

CAVANAUGH 1 That these are going to Standing Rock, that these are going to help that occupation really really makes me happy. It’s just one thing I can do besides sending money or sending letters, you know. (1:16)

CACERES 5: Others in the city have the same urge to do their part. Anne Spice is a member of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and a doctoral student at Queens College. She organizes rallies for a campaign called NYC Stands With Standing Rock. (1:32)

SPICE 1 People, even though they might not know a lot about what’s happening in Indian country, and they’re still showing up and placing their trust in this movement and I think that’s also been a super powerful thing to see. (1:45)

CACERES 6: She says New York’s unique mix is exactly what their cause needs. (1:49)

SPICE 2 It’s helpful to have a diverse group of people with all sorts of different skills and when you are at Standing Rock you can see also all of the different structures that are being built and making sure that camp strong and well supported. (2:02)

CACERES 7: Back in Brooklyn, those skills are being used to smooth out three steel bike stands. (2:08)


CACERES 8: Tom Robinson, another volunteer, is a seasoned engineer. Like Pingeon, he’s also fretting about their deadline. (2:20)

ROBINSON 1 There’s a certain amount of like anxiety over this. But like good anxiety, you know, like is it all gonna like fit? Is it all gonna to work?

PINGEON 3 Oh yeah. I have a lot of anxiety. (2:32)

CACERES 9: But for Pingeon, helping the Pipeline protest is worth the stress. He says he doesn’t want any regrets. (2:38)

PINGEON 4 I mean, you don’t want to be that guy who, if Bayard Rustin asked you to help out, like do something on the march on Washington and you were like ‘oh no, I’m too busy or something. It’s like ‘okay, this is kind of important.’

CACERES 10: The group hopes to send five more energy bikes to Standing Rock in the next few weeks.

Melissa Cáceres, Columbia Radio News.

Melissa Caceres is a master of science student originally from Miami, Florida. Her work has appeared in the Miami Herald, The South-Florida Sun Sentinel and the New York Post.


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