Shailene Woodley was arrested Monday in Sioux County, North Dakota, for taking part in a peaceful protest opposing construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which crosses Native American land and burial grounds. An outspoken supporter of Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential primary, the Divergent and Fault in Our Stars actress recently appeared with the U.S. senator on Late Night With Seth Meyers to discuss the controversial project.
Woodley had joined a protest of around 150 people in response to a court’s rejection of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s formal request to block the planned pipeline. She streamed the event on Facebook Live for two hours, capturing the moment when things took a turn as she was approached by a police officer. “We can’t talk right here,” the unidentified officer said to Woodley privately, “but you’re going to be placed under arrest for criminal trespassing.”
Several celebrities have stood with the Sioux tribe and against the pipeline’s construction, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Susan Sarandon, and Neil Young, who recorded a protest song in solidarity with the cause. For her part, Woodley, who appears to be the first major public figure arrested for protesting the project, argued with the officer over whether her arrest was based on her celebrity. “I have one question: Why am I being arrested and no one else is who is down there, is my question,” she asked. “Is it because I’m famous? Is it because people know me?” Another officer assured Woodley that it was because she “trespassed,” to which she retorted that the same could be said of the many others protesting.
Many have come out in defense of Woodley, including another activist who knows a thing or two about facing pushback from law enforcement: Edward Snowden, whose girlfriend Woodley recently portrayed in the Oliver Stone film Snowden.
Regardless of whether the arrest was justified, it will have one significant side effect: drawing more attention to the protest.