Rolling Stone: How musicians are joining Standing Rock

In October, Dave Matthews visited the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in rural North Dakota to meet with children and play a concert as part of an Obama-administration program that teams artists with schools in economically deprived areas. When he was assigned to visit the school, he was surprised to find that people on the reservation, joined by environmental activists from around the country, were locked in a bitter battle with the Texas-based company Energy Transfer Partners and the Army Corps of Engineers over the construction of an oil pipeline near their land. “I was just somebody who wanted to use some of my strength as an artist to inspire some kids,” Matthews says. “That proximity [to the pipeline] was completely coincidental.”

In recent months, the protests at Standing Rock have become a flashpoint for the climate-justice movement. Matthews witnessed peaceful demonstrators, who have set up an encampment near Standing Rock, being met with fierce resistance from law enforcement and private security, including the use of rubber bullets, attack dogs and mass arrests. He quickly decided to get involved. “I wasn’t connected by a news story,” he says. “If people are voiceless and have a legitimate gripe, it’s our responsibility to try and give them a voice.”

In response, Matthews has organized a benefit concert to take place on November 27th in Washington, D.C., the same day that Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and Jason Mraz are staging the Stand in Solidarity With Standing Rock show in Fort Yates, North Dakota, near the pipeline protests. The proceeds will go toward winterizing the protesters’ camp and providing legal aid for the dozens of people who’ve been thrown into crude, makeshift jails by local authorities. “I’ve been surprised by the dogs and the rubber bullets,” says Raitt. “I don’t think the people will stand for it.”

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