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Actor Shailene Woodley on Her Arrest, Strip Search and Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance

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At least 27 people, including Hollywood actress Shailene Woodley, were arrested during the Standoff at Standing Rock on October 10, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, while attempting to blockade the Dakota Access pipeline construction at two separate worksites. Footage of Woodley’s arrest was streamed live to roughly 40,000 viewers on her Facebook page. She was later strip-searched in jail. She says her dedication to protest with indigenous people who are at the forefront of the fight remains strong: “Every time we allow another pipeline … we are endorsing the fossil fuel industry and only prolonging the time it is going to take to switch to renewable energy.” Woodley recently starred in the new Edward Snowden film, “Snowden.” She has appeared in the TV series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and has also starred in films including “The Divergent Series” and “The Fault in Our Stars.” She received a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Alex King in “The Descendants.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to continue to look at what’s happening. Are North Dakota authorities waging a war against the public’s right to know about the ongoing Standing Rock pipeline protests?

Earlier this month, two weeks ago, they charged documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg with three felonies for filming an act of civil disobedience, in which climate activists manually turned off the safety valves to stop the flow of tar sands oil through pipelines spanning the U.S. and Canada. These were separate actions from DAPL. The actions took place in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Washington state. Schlosberg is an award-winning filmmaker, was producer of Josh Fox’s recent documentary, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change. She was filming the action at a valve station owned by TransCanada in Walhalla, North Dakota, arrested along with activists, and her footage was confiscated. She was charged with a Class A felony and two Class C felonies, which combined carry a 45-year maximum sentence.

Meanwhile, on October 10th, at least 27 people, including Hollywood actress Shailene Woodley, were arrested blockading Dakota Access pipeline construction at two separate worksites. Footage of Woodley’s arrest was streamed live to roughly 40,000 viewers on her Facebook page.

POLICE OFFICER: Right now you’re being placed under arrest for criminal trespassing, all right?

SHAILENE WOODLEY: It’s because I have 40,000 people watching. So everybody knows we were going to our vehicle, which they had all surrounded and waiting for me with giant guns and the giant truck behind them, just so they could arrest me, so they knew this would happen. I hope you’re watching, mainstream media.

AMY GOODMAN: That was activist and actress Shailene Woodley being arrested for protesting the North Dakota Access pipeline. Shailene is known for The Divergent Series, for Fault in Our Stars. She’s just most recently the star of the Snowden film, called Snowden, about Edward Snowden. She also appeared in the TV series Secret Life of the American Teenager.

Shailene, can you talk about what happened to you? This was right after Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Columbus Day?

SHAILENE WOODLEY: This was on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It was all—it was right after—so, I happened to be in town. I had been gone from Standing Rock for a month, and I had gotten back the night before Indigenous Peoples’ Day. And there was a sunrise ceremony, a sunrise prayer. Everyone woke up at 6:00 a.m. and gathered by the river to pray, which is how most days at Standing Rock start. So, all of this dialogue and these narratives about riots is so fascinating to me, when, you know, they’re—it’s so grounded in ceremony and in prayer. I can’t stress that enough. So everyone got up and prayed. And the night before, coincidentally, right after the presidential debate, when the whole world’s focus and attention was on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Court of Appeals decided to deny the injunction to halt construction of the pipeline. So, an action was spontaneously put into place, a peaceful action, that I participated in.

And we all went down to this certain area; I couldn’t give you the exact landmarks, because I had never been there before. And a few people had chosen—had done planned arrests to bring attention to the day and to the cause. I was not one of those people. I was participating in peaceful protest and peaceful protection for clean water, along with roughly 300 people, including my mother. And I was standing exactly how all the rest of these 300 people were standing, and doing what these other 300 people were doing, which was praying, which was chanting, which was singing. And after about two or three, four—my timing is off, but after quite a few hours of doing this, the—once the people who had chosen to be arrested were detained and sent safely away, we all left, because the cops were leaving, and so we all peacefully left.

And as I was pulling up, walking up to my RV in the back of the line of the protesters’ cars, so there weren’t a lot of people around—my mom was with me and a few friends—there was a—there was a group of cops waiting for me, as well as a tank was—a tank. I mean, a tank. I don’t know, like that’s so crazy to say there’s a tank, a war tank. And then there was like a SWAT car tank. And they were waiting there. And they grabbed my arm, and they asked if I was Shailene Woodley, and I said yes. And they told me to wait, and eventually they decided to come back and arrest me.

AMY GOODMAN: So, were you the only person, outside of those who were willing to get arrested—I mean, there were several hundred others like you who were there in support, but left when you were told to.


AMY GOODMAN: You were the only one who was arrested?


AMY GOODMAN: Did they say why?

SHAILENE WOODLEY: I mean, I was charged with criminally trespassing and with engaging in a riot. They didn’t say why. I made—I made a comment saying, “Is it because I’m Shailene Woodley, people maybe know who I am?” I was—like you mentioned, I was Facebook Live streaming while I was getting arrested, but also, before that, I had been live-streaming for two-plus hours and had over 40,000 people at that time, of my time of arrest, watching. But even prior to that, we—waxing and waning in and out of 30,000 to 50,000 people, give or take. So, it was creating a lot of momentum outside of Standing Rock.

And as we all know, there has been a media blackout about what’s going on. And it’s up to people like you, Amy—and you’re doing so bravely and so courageously—and people like us on the ground with our Facebook Live streams and these brave warriors out there, who are being arrested, to bring attention to this cause, because no one’s talking about it. And it’s time for that to stop. We do not—it is not acceptable that there are tanks in North Dakota facing elders and children and protectors of clean water. This is something that is a—this is a big issue, and we cannot—we cannot lay idle anymore about it.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, what happened next? You were brought to the Mandan jail?

SHAILENE WOODLEY: Morton County, yeah, Mandan jail. And then we were strip-searched and put in—

AMY GOODMAN: You were charged with these low-level misdemeanors, and you were strip-searched?

SHAILENE WOODLEY: Yeah, we—we were asked to. We had to get undressed in front of someone.

AMY GOODMAN: You were by yourself?


AMY GOODMAN: With the guard?

SHAILENE WOODLEY: Yeah, watching—and prove that we had nothing on or in our bodies. And then, from there, we were told to put on an orange jumpsuit, also while being watched, and then sat in a holding chamber with a group of other women.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you were—you were—

SHAILENE WOODLEY: I was—I was—I have to say, I was the first person who got released that day on bail. My mom happened to be there. And I think it freaked her out a lot. But there were a lot of women who I got to know in that chamber who had to stay overnight and spent a lot more time in jail than I did. And I think it’s really important and I think it’s beautiful that we talk about my arrest and we’re talking about Deia’s, but there are a lot of people out there who don’t have the support that I have because of my name. And we all need to be supporting them just as much as we’re paying attention to the issues that we’re here to talk about, because those are our brothers and our sisters on the line who are sacrificing so much of their livelihood in order to stand in solidarity with this movement.

AMY GOODMAN: You were not just—you didn’t just go in on that day, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Shailene. You’ve been going back to North Dakota now for many, many months. Why is the Dakota Access pipeline standoff so important to you? Why are you so concerned about this close to $4 billion pipeline being built?

SHAILENE WOODLEY: You know, there’s a lot of reasons to be aware of this pipeline. One is climate change. As we all know, every single time we allow another pipeline to be built or another fracking well to be built, we are endorsing the fossil fuel industry and only prolonging the time that it’s going to take to switch to renewable energy.

But something that’s really important about this movement, in particular, is the fact that it’s not only happening outside and on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, but indigenous people are at the forefront of this fight. And most of the time, indigenous people and marginalized communities are the first people affected by climate change and by the fossil fuel industry, because there’s a certain veil of silence that’s thrown over these communities when these pipelines go through. A lot of people don’t pay attention. You know, it’s like why 45 minutes south of L.A. there is the largest oil refinery west of the Mississippi, yet those people living in Beverly Hills and those of us in Santa Monica, we don’t know about it. Predominantly, if you just look at the different communities and the people who live there, you have to ask yourself: Is that coincidence, or is there a reason for that? And that’s what we’re seeing at Standing Rock.

You know, a lot of people don’t realize this, but for the first time in history—before colonization, Native American tribes, a lot of them were at war with one another and didn’t get along. And so, for the first time in history, these different bands, these different tribes, and non-Native allies are coming together to heal the past and to move forward in solidarity for future generations. And that’s really major. This is a historical moment. This will be in history books. Things are changing, and it’s because people are letting go of a lot of pain and a lot of suffering that has existed for so many years. And we cannot—it is our civic and civil responsibility, especially me as a non-Native, to recognize what my ancestors did to Native Americans in this country and what I refuse to let continue to happen to Native Americans in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, I was speaking with a security guard who is in North Dakota protecting the pipeline, and one of the things he said to me, especially about what happened September 3rd when the security guards unleashed the dogs on the water protectors, he said, “Yeah, do I understand why these protesters are angry?” He said, “We have dogs bite them, and that’s on top of killing them for 200 years?” He said, “I get it. I get it.” Shailene Woodley, thanks so much for being with us. We’re going to also talk about the people who were there documenting what’s going on. Shailene was arrested on Columbus Day, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, out protesting the pipeline, though she was going to her car. She was done, after the police said, you know, “You have to leave the property.”

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Meet the Journalist Facing 45 Years in Jail for Filming Tar Sands Pipeline Protest in North Dakota

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