Pipeline activists host peaceful protest training at Memorial Union



Whitney Mason

Cheryl Valenta, Mark Edwards, and Joshua Myatt stood in front of the intrigued attendees of the Peaceful Protest Training on Sunday to share their experiences from past protests. The event was hosted by Bakken Pipeline Resistance coalition members IOWA 350 and ActivUS.

Myatt, Iowa State student and member of ActivUS, a student organization committed to achieving environmental and social justice at Iowa State, participated in the Standing Rock protests against the Bakken Pipeline last year. He shared his experience at a blockade created by protesters at Standing Rock in November.

“[The blockade] wasn’t a planned event,” Myatt recalled. “It arose out of nowhere. First thing we saw was a woman get hit in the head with a lead filled bean bag. That’s when the water cannon and tear gas came out.”

Valenta and Edwards shifted the conversation following Myatt’s recollections. They expressed the importance of having peacekeepers at a protest and training protesters to remain calm.

“We went to work as peacekeepers [for protests],” said Edwards, ISU alumnus, participant in the Bakken Pipeline protests. Edwards worked as a peacekeeper alongside a friend of his, a U.S. veteran. As a peacekeeper, Edwards said he was able to remove younger protesters from confrontations that could have lead to violent clashes.

“I never felt threatened.” Edwards said. As he grew older, Edwards became more aware of environmental issues in the state of Iowa.

“I just want to protect my state,” Edwards said.

Valenta, a member of IOWA 350, said the importance of peacekeepers and why they should be present to mitigate during a protest. Valenta always had an interest in environmental issues. She also participated in protests against the mistreatment of Native Americans. She hoped that those in attendance of the peaceful protest training had feelings of empowerment and were ready to take action.

“I hope they have a feeling like they know enough to get started,” Valenta said. “There has to be an outlet for [their]your concerns.”

Valenta and Edwards also stressed the importance of communities.

“We should all be really involved with our communities,” Valenta said. Edwards said by encouraging attendees to take action, especially if the action will not hurt anyone.