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Shailene Woodley
Courtesy Morton County Sheriff’s Department

Shailene Woodley speaks out about her Dakota Pipeline arrest

‘It took me, a white non-native woman being arrested… to bring this cause to many people’s attention’

Divergent star Shailene Woodley has penned a powerful essay about her arrest at the Dakota Pipeline protest last week.

The actress, who was demonstrating against the construction of the controversial oil pipeline, has reportedly pled not guilty to misdemeanour charges of criminal trespassing and participating in a riot. She is currently facing up to 60 days in prison and a $3,000 fine. 

Woodley wrote about the arrest, as well as her motivations, in an exclusive essay published on Time magazine yesterday (October 10). “It took me, a white non-native woman being arrested on Oct 10th in North Dakota, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, to bring this cause to many people’s attention,” she wrote. “The day I was detained, 26 others had to dress in orange as well, as they were booked into the Morton County jail. Did you hear about them?”

The piece, titled “The Truth About My Arrest”, is the actress’s first full statement about the incident. It justifies her presence at the protest by detailing the deadly effects of the pipeline – which would span 1,170 miles and carry around 470,000 barrels of oil every day – on local Native American communities. 

“When the Dakota Access Pipeline breaks (and we know that too many pipelines do), millions of people will have crude-oil-contaminated water,” explained Woodley. “Don’t let the automatic sink faucets in your homes fool you – that water comes from somewhere, and the second its source is contaminated, so is your bathtub, and your sink, and your drinking liquid. We must not take for granted the severity of this truth.”

The actress went on to chastise the US public for ignoring the issue, and for showing disrespect to Native American communities – particularly via cultural appropriative “fashion trends” and totems. “We wear their heritage, their sacred totems, as decoration and in fashion trends, failing to honour their culture,” she continued. “You know what I’m talking about, Coachella. We grow up romanticising native culture, native art, native history... without knowing native reality.”

Woodley added that she was “not scared” of being convicted, and instead urged fans to take a stand against the issue. “Simply feeding off the hype of a celebrity’s arrest ain’t going to save the world,” she concluded. “But, standing together will. Please stand in solidarity with the Sioux people of Standing Rock Reservation to ensure that we still have rivers to swim in, springs to drink from and lakes to float on.”

Read the full essay on Time here.