Earth Guardians, a youth-oriented activist movement, gathered at the steps of the Capitol building on Monday to stand in solidarity with the six teens suing the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
The lawsuit, which went to court on Feb. 21, claims that the COGCC violated the constitutional right to public health by denying the negative effects of fracking. The rally echoes ongoing protests for the rights of indigenous people and an even bigger push for environmental safeguards. These come in light of new developments within the administration of President Donald Trump, such as a recent revival of the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines.
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, a plaintiff in the case, guided the event. Martinez, along with other speakers, called on the crowd to stand up and fight for the preservation of water and the environment.
Among the speakers was Rep. Joseph Salazar. Salazar is an advocate for indigenous rights and active supporter of the protests in Standing Rock. Despite the presence of such high-profile names, the young voices of the Earth Guardians dominated the event.
Thomas Lopez Jr., a 24-year-old Lakota Indian and Latino who helped establish the International Indigenous Youth Council’s Denver chapter, spoke of his moving experience at Standing Rock. He described how being there changed his perspective and how he has since moved down a road of activism.
Lopez described “stripping back the layers of colonization” and how he “learned to be a true indigenous boy.”
After the speakers finished their final words, Martinez ushered the crowd into a march through Denver. Marchers filed in for a blessing ceremony, calling in the four directions. According to Martinez, this blessing was meant to protect the earth.
Activists marched toward the COGCC building and the Court of Appeals, garnering support from curious bystanders and cars honking their horns. The group stood united in a push for clean water and more respect for the earth.
“Once we can liberate this water, once we can liberate this earth we walk on, we can liberate ourselves,” Lopez said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Sydney Worth at firstname.lastname@example.org.