North Dakota continues to escalate repression of the people protecting sacred sites and waters from the Dakota Access Pipeline. Today, two more felony charges were sought for water protectors bringing the total to seven, including Dale "Happi" American Horse, the first person to lock his body to active Dakota Access Pipeline construction equipment. This comes days after a heated exchange at a prayer ceremony when police abruptly dispersed the crowd with shotguns, a Bearcat armored vehicle and a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle.
American Horse appeared with his court appointed counsel, Steven Balaban. His misdemeanor case was dismissed and then refiled as a felony case. The new charges include one count of felony Reckless Endangerment, one count of misdemeanor Obstruction of a Government Function, one count of misdemeanor Preventing Arrest, and one count of misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct. Despite the gravity of these new charges, American Horse was undaunted. "We as protectors are not intimidated when it comes to defending Mother Earth, either on the front lines or in the courtroom,” American Horse said. He remains free on a $500 bond, and trial was set for December 23rd.
Mason RedWing of the “spirit riders”, a group that patrols actions on horseback to protect people praying on the front lines, appeared this morning on two active warrants, one misdemeanor and one felony. He was charged with felony reckless endangerment of law enforcement and a second felony count of terrorizing law enforcement for allegedly riding his horse towards the police line. His bond was set at $2000. He was taken into custody and released on bond.
Seven water protectors who were arrested without warning for failing to disperse from a Dakota Access work site on September 13th appeared in court this morning for arraignments. All who appeared entered pleas of not guilty and are scheduled for trial in late December and early January.
Ladonna Bravebull Allard says, “We will continue to stand in the face of injustice. We stand because we must protect the water.”