Lakota Teen Arrested After Locking Herself to Pipeline Construction Equipment in Texas

By Yessenia Funes Jan 30, 2017

A Sicangu Lakota youth from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota locked herself to a bulldozer yesterday (January 29) near Shafter, Texas. She was attempting to block construction of the 148-mile long Trans Pecos Pipeline, which will transport 1.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day from Fort Stockton, Texas to Mexico. Construction was not affected, according to Lisa Dillinger, spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners, which is behind the pipeline.

Presidio County Sheriff’s Office placed 16-year-old Destiny Willcuts into custody at the Presidio County Juvenile Probation Department. Her age prevents officials from disclosing information on her, but pipeline opponent Frankie Orona, a manager on the Two Rivers Camp Facebook page, told Colorlines that Willcuts was held overnight. She is scheduled to stand before a judge at 2:30 p.m. CST today (January 30). Her allies are asking supporters to donate for her bail here.

Willcuts issued this statement via Austin Environmental Justice Team’s Facebook page:

This fight means that my kids and my nieces and my nephews will have drinking water for their kids when they get older. It’s kind of like me reclaiming my history and roots, I have to relearn everything I knew before but forgot.

Before heading to Texas, Willcuts said in her statement, she was facing rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas in North Dakota against another Energy Transfer Partners project: the 1,172-mile long Dakota Access Pipeline. President Donald Trump is currently attempting to steamroll Dakota Access through an executive order he signed January 24. Civil disobedience tactics water protectors used at Standing Rock (i.e., locking themselves to construction equipment) are quickly gaining momentum in Texas pipeline battles.

On January 12, an unidentified water protector in San Elizario, Texas, locked herself to an excavator set to do work on the Comanche Trail Pipeline, a 195-mile long natural gas project that has been dubbed the “sister pipeline” to the Trans-Pecos. Energy Transfer Partners is overseeing both pipelines, and they will each begin at Fort Stockton but take different routes into Mexico.