Prayers frontman Rafa Reyes was one of many musicians among the thousands protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline near Bismarck, North Dakota.
“I didn’t tell anybody. I just woke up the day after Thanksgiving and took off.”
Reyes said buying last-minute air fare is not cheap. He says the San Diego/Minneapolis/Bismarck jaunt cost about $700 each way.
“I knew if I told my family they’d be worried. I have two strikes. And they showed on the media how they will be arresting people and that it would be a felony. I can’t afford to get a third.
“A friend who I met on Facebook who I had never met before picked me up at the Bismarck airport. She had been there over a month.”
Fellow locals Jason Mraz (Oceanside) and Joel Rafael (Valley Center) played a fundraising concert November 27 with Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt at nearby Fort Yates. “Cholo-goth” frontman Reyes only went to show support.
The concert and ongoing protest are in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which is trying to stop the pipeline that would run through their sacred grounds.
“I never camped before in my life,” Reyes says. “It was, like, 20 degrees. It feels like sharp knives hitting your face.”
But Reyes says it was worth it. “It was very humbling. I needed to get outside of myself and do something about monstrous fossil-fuel corporations that are controlling our government, and show that we won’t stand for police brutality and abuse of power.”
Reyes says there was tension in the air. “People were getting pepper-sprayed. There was militarized police. There was barbed-wire everywhere. There were burned-out cars on the side of the road. It looked like a battlefield after a war.”
Reyes says he heard one Bismarck local spew a racist slur to his black friend. “The white community in Bismarck was really in opposition. The pipeline was originally going to go through Bismarck. They rejected it. Now it’s supposed to run through Standing Rock.”
Reyes said his trip was just four days.
“I had to get back. We have to turn in music for the movie Low Rider. Plus I had to fire our management.” He says Tool manager Dino Parades is now handling Prayers management.
“Our old management just had too many acts. They were stretched too thin. We agreed it was best [Prayers] go with new people.”