On February 3, Standing Rock protester Steve Martinez appeared before a grand jury in North Dakota. The US Attorney’s Office had subpoenaed Steve in an ongoing investigation into a 2016 incident in which another protester, Sophia Wilansky, was gravely injured. After refusing to testify, the Magistrate Judge overseeing the grand jury held Steve in contempt of court and ordered him imprisoned. After nearly three weeks in jail, Steve was released, but the government’s attack on him continues. In order to learn more about his case and the broader climate of repression against activists and protestors, I spoke with Lauren Regan, executive director and lead attorney with the Civil Liberties Defense Center in Oregon. The Civil Liberties Defense Center is an organization founded to give legal, educational, and strategic support to social movements that seek to dismantle the political and economic structures at the root of social and environmental destruction.
Standing Rock - Today, Lakota youth from the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River tribal nations announced a plan to run over 93 miles back to the Oceti Sakowin Camp site to call on President Biden to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The youth are asking for everyone who stood with Standing Rock four years ago to participate by uploading their own #NoDAPL The oil pipeline poses a grave threat to the safety and sanctity of the tribes’ water, hunting and fishing rights, and cultural and religious practices. Federal courts have sided with the tribes on the years-long litigation and have revoked DAPL’s federal easement required by the Mineral Leasing Act.
On Thursday, September 10, 2020, in a long-awaited ruling, United States District Court Judge Daniel Traynor (District of North Dakota) allowed a lawsuit challenging law enforcement’s 2016 use of fire hoses and munitions against water protectors opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to move forward with discovery. The case had been stalled for more than two years after Morton County and other defendants filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the case. Plaintiff Vanessa Dundon is a member of the Navajo/ Diné Nation who was shot in the eye with a teargas canister while attempting to aid another person.
The Dakota Access Pipeline must be shut down and emptied of oil within 30 days while a lengthy environmental review of the project is conducted, a federal judge ruled Monday. The move was requested earlier this year by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and three other Sioux tribes in the Dakotas who fear environmental harm from the pipeline and have spent four years in court fighting the project. Thousands of pipeline opponents from around the world who took up their cause flocked to southern North Dakota in 2016 and 2017 to protest the project, raising the profile of the tribes' fight. Some clashed with police, resulting in more than 760 arrests. "The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and millions of others who fought against the Dakota Access Pipeline showed us the power of standing together against injustice," Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted on Monday. Standing Rock leaders, meanwhile, are looking ahead to the next steps in fighting the pipeline.
Washington, D.C. —A federal court today granted a request by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to strike down federal permits for the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. The Court found the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it affirmed federal permits for the pipeline originally issued in 2016. Specifically, the Court found significant unresolved concerns about the potential impacts of oil spills and the likelihood that one could take place. For example, the Court criticized the Corps for failing to address the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s expert criticism of its analysis, citing issues like potential worst case discharge, the difficulty of detecting slow leaks, and responding to spills in winter. Similarly, the Court observed that DAPL’s parent company’s abysmal safety record “does not inspire confidence,” finding that it should have been considered more closely.
For months, the North Dakota Highway Patrol flew daily surveillance flights over the protesters’ camps and used forward-looking infrared (FLIR) cameras to gather real-time geo-spatial intelligence (GEOINT). These thermographic cameras sense infrared radiation emitted by heat sources which give law enforcement the ability to perceive thermal radiation and monitor their area of land operations at night.
‘This Illegal And Dangerous Pipeline Must Be Shut Down’: Standing Rock Sioux Renew The Fight Against The DAPL
The media may have forgotten the ferocious battle the Standing Rock water protectors fought against the Dakota Access Pipeline but that doesn’t mean that the fight is over. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is continuing their battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline – a battle which has been raging since 2016 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deemed that the pipeline route would not affect any historic properties without cooperating with Standing Rock tribal leaders.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is asking a judge to throw out a federal permit for the Dakota Access oil pipeline, arguing that the government shut the tribe out of a court-ordered second environmental review and ignored its concerns. The challenge comes as Energy Transfer, the company behind the pipeline, is now seeking to double how much oil the pipeline can carry. The Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) passes under the Missouri River, the tribe's water supply, just upstream from the Standing Rock Reservation.
Cherri Foytlin and her fellow protestors spent much of last summer suspended 35-feet in the air in “sky pods” tied to cypress trees. They were hoping to block the Bayou Bridge Pipeline from running through their part of Louisiana. At the time, Energy Transfer Partners was building the pipeline to move oil between Texas and St. James Parish in southern Louisiana, crisscrossing through the Atchafalaya Basin, one of the largest swamps in the country. Foytlin and others with the group L’Eau Est La Vie (“Water Is Life”) set up wooden platforms between trees along the proposed path of the pipeline.
There was something familiar and comforting about the bus. A crowd of people painted green vines and flowers on the exterior as it sat parked in a field near Frank’s Landing during the Indigenous Environmental Network’s annual Protecting Mother Earth Conference, held earlier this month. This bus was indeed an old friend. It has a lot of history helping indigenous people; it served as a kitchen and then a treatment center for the Medic + Healer Council at the Standing Rock water protector camps.
Louisiana Sheriff Who Criticized Pipeline Opponents Is Ordered To Release Records On Standing Rock Visit
On December 27, a state* appeals court ordered a Louisiana’s sheriff’s department and its sheriff to release information about its officers’ trip to North Dakota during the heated protests against the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016. The extended, indigenous-led protests near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation drew a highly militarized response from public and private law enforcement. Out-of-state cops, including those from Louisiana’s St. Charles Parish, flooded North Dakota to support it via an interstate agreement. The latest move reversed a decision by a district court, which denied a public records request made by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)...
Mike Faith, Jr., Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, issued this statement: “The Army Corps’ decision to rubberstamp its illegal and flawed permit for DAPL will not stand. “A federal judge declared the DAPL permits to be illegal, and ordered the Corps to take a fresh look at the risks of an oil spill and the impacts to the Tribe and its Treaty rights. That is not what the Army Corps did. Instead, we got a cynical and one-sided document designed to paper over mistakes, not address the Tribe’s legitimate concerns. “The Tribe has worked in good faith every step of the way to develop technical and cultural information to help the Corps fully understand the consequences of permitting this pipeline. They took our hard work and threw it in the trash.
Chase Iron Eyes, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and an attorney with the Lakota People’s Law Project, describes the movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline and his almost two-year fight against felony charges. His work to develop a necessity defense led to the uncovering of corruption and collusion between industry, law enforcement and government. Chase also gives his analysis of what the mobilization at Standing Rock means in the greater context of colonialism, capitalism and the absence of democracy.
Michael “Little Feather” Giron, a member of the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation, was sentenced to thirty-six months in federal prison this week. He is the first person to be sentenced to serious prison time for his role in the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Little Feather has already spent fifteen months of his life incarcerated – time which will be credited to him as part of the sentencing – but still faces at least eleven months in prison. His legal team hopes that he will be released after eleven months to a halfway house.
May 2018. “Standing Rock is everywhere now.” We heard this refrain time and again in the days and weeks that followed the violent defeat and eviction of Standing Rock’s Water Protectors at the Oceti Sakowin camp on the banks of the Cannon Ball River in February last year. And it is true – despite their ultimate defeat, Standing Rock’s Water Protectors have inspired or reinvigorated uprisings against the colonial and extractivist fossil fuel industry (and its enablers in government) across North America. Standing Rock’s legacy lives in the imaginaries of the thousands of people who stood together against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the hundreds of thousands who supported them.