Back-to-Back Equipment Lock Downs and Dozens Arrested as August Arrestees Attend Arraignments

 

Today, 3 more individuals locked themselves to equipment at an active construction site just west of Bismarck.  This followed the actions from yesterday morning, when 2 water protectors locked themselves to heavy equipment to stop work at two active pipeline construction sites northwest of Mandan.  One worker pepper sprayed one of the water protectors before leaving the scene.  Law enforcement responded in full riot gear with semi-automatic weapons and arrested 22 people, all unarmed, including medics, journalists, and legal observers.  One of the individuals was locked onto the machine for nearly 7 hours.  

Yesterday, the first 15 arrestees from the resistance camps near the Standing Rock Reservation attended arraignment hearings in Bismarck, ND.  All were charged in early August in some of the region’s first demonstrations to stop the Dakota Access pipeline.   All pled not guilty and pre-trial conference dates were set for December.  

The Morton County Jail informed the Camp’s legal team that the ND States Attorney, Al Koppy, had ordered that only a North Dakota licensed attorney could visit the jailed water protectors, which is a violation of their constitutional right to counsel of their choosing for initial consultation.  Fifteen individuals were eventually released on bond in the evening, and a bond hearing is scheduled for the other 7 at 1 p.m. today, September 14th, at Morton County Court House in Mandan, ND.

The joint statement from three federal agencies last week extended the emergency temporary restraining order that prevents construction at the river crossing itself, until this Friday September 16th.  It also asked Dakota Access, LLC to voluntarily stop construction on the area 20 miles east and 20 miles west of Lake Oahe.

LaDonna Allard, Section 106 Historic Preservation Officer for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, says, “We are told it is our right to stand up if there is injustice in America but when we do we are attacked as North Dakota spend its dollars to protect an oil company rather than protecting the people from destruction of their lands and water. Where is the justice?”

“This was an absurd and overzealous usage of force by North Dakota law enforcement,” said Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Such blatant disregard for the safety and legal rights of unarmed water protectors should not and will not go unnoticed. And yet, this inappropriate behavior by police will not deter our peaceful struggle to stop this pipeline.”

Tara Houska, National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth, speaking from a rally in D.C. of over 3,000 people including Bernie Sanders said “According to Dakota Access, they can treat us as less than human beings - they can sic dogs and use mace on Native American women and children trying to protect our sacred sites. But the world is watching.” Jasilyn Charger of the Oceti Sakowin Youth Runners also addressed the crowd saying “Right now, there are almost five thousand people in Standing Rock- and growing by the day- all willing to lay down their lives to protect our water.”

“These non-violent direct actions are part of a long-term commitment to prevent the contested Dakota Access Pipeline from entering into the ground, which water protectors (both indigenous and non-native allies) see as a raping of Mother Earth, ” said a statement released on behalf of the Red Warrior Camp.

 

 

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Judge Denies Preliminary Injunction, But Obama Administration Halts Construction at Missouri River Crossing

Judge Denies Preliminary Injunction, But Obama Administration Halts Construction at Missouri River Crossing

Today, U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg denied the preliminary injunction request by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to cease construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Soon after, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army, and the Department of the Interior issued a joint statement that halts construction at the contentious Missouri river crossing.

Tribal Gathering Against Dakota Access Faces Aggressive State Repression and Media Manipulation

Monday, Aug 15, 2016 ND State Troopers surround and arrest an oppenent to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Rob Wilson

Monday, Aug 15, 2016 ND State Troopers surround and arrest an oppenent to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Rob Wilson

For Immediate Release: August 23, 2016

The historic gathering of tribes from across the continent in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline continues in the face of aggressive state repression and media manipulation.  Last Friday, Governor Dalrymple declared a State of Emergency in order to make additional state resources available to “manage public safety risks associated with the protest.”  Dalrymple has complained of “outside agitators” responsible for “hundreds of criminal acts,” and called on federal officials to help.  But LaDonna Allard, Director of the Camp of the Sacred Stone, says, “The gathering here remains 100% peaceful and ceremonial, as it has from day one.  We are standing together in prayer.  No firearms or weapons are allowed.  Why is a gathering of Indians so inherently threatening and frightening to some people?”

On Monday, August 22, the Morton County Board also declared a State of Emergency in order to access the funds released by the Governor - to request overtime wages, extra equipment, and money to reimburse other law enforcement agencies sending resources.  This decision relies on a false narrative of violence put forth by Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, who last week announced outrageous, unsubstantiated claims of “pipe bombs” and gun violence at the protest site.  Dallas Goldtooth, Keep It In The Ground Campaign Organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network says, “These are dangerous statements by Sheriff Kirchmeier and only foster greater resentment between local native and non-native residents. Furthermore, we have women, children and elders in our camp; and because of the Sheriff’s false narrative those families now have to fear for their own safety. ”

Meanwhile, the main road accessing the camp, Highway 1806, has been shut down by authorities since Friday.  A military-style checkpoint is established at Fort Lincoln, where motorists are constantly surveilled with cameras and interrogated about their activities.   Identities are recorded and anyone suspected of traveling to the protest site is turned away and forced to travel a long detour. These checkpoints violate constitutional protections and international law by restricting freedom of movement without justification.  They further isolate a people who are already extremely geographically and politically isolated.  At the same time, police presence has been amplified on the reservation and many have been racially profiled and harassed for no reason.  

On Monday, North Dakota’s Homeland Security Director ordered the removal of state-owned medical trailers and water tanks from the camp, citing reports of unlawful activity and fears that the equipment is unsafe.  Tara Houska, National Campaigns Director for Honor the Earth, says, “It is deeply ironic that the Governor would release emergency funds under the guise of public health and safety, but then remove the infrastructure that helps ensure health and safety in the camp.  This is nothing but repression of our growing movement to protect our water and future generations.”


The North Dakota Highway Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation also announced they are investigating two incidents of “laser strikes” aimed at surveillance aircraft patrolling above the camp.   “Why launch a federal investigation into a laser pointer instead of asking what right the US government has to fly surveillance planes over sovereign nations in the first place?” said Houska.