Friday, September 30, 2016

Pipeline protest at Standing Rock

Truthout has a great article about what is going on at Standing Rock and how lawyers can help out there.
There have been more than 80 arrests charging criminal trespass and nonviolent direct actions, including lockdowns on earthmoving equipment to prevent Dakota Access, LLC from building the pipeline from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to the Midwest, and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. If completed, the leak-certain pipeline would go under the Missouri River and Lake Oahe and will threaten the sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and clean water for the tribe and 20 million others who get their drinking water from the Missouri River. It would also guarantee the production and transportation of more than 500,000 barrels of oil a day to the Midwest and Gulf, with the same carbon footprint as 12 million cars.
Our office, with very limited phone service and internet, is a windowless tent at the top of a windblown hill overlooking the vast entryway to the camp marked by the flags of more than 250 Indigenous nations that have been present. They have come on horseback, some in canoes down the Missouri River and most in buses and caravans from as far away as Alaska. When representatives of the Tribal Nations arrive, they ask permission to enter Standing Rock Sioux territory, and when officially welcomed, they share their traditional dances and songs and words of solidarity and bring gifts.
Our Red Owl Collective has done jail interviews with most of those arrested, bonded them out with funds from the crowdfunding campaign, and are called to monitor the protest sites. We were also successful in getting Dakota Access, LLC's injunction in federal court in Bismarck against anyone "interfering with the pipeline" dissolved. Currently, we are in the process of connecting with and recruiting North Dakota lawyers to represent those charged. Indigenous attorney Angela Bibens is a regular in our office and National Lawyers Guild lawyers make week-long visits. Even when out-of-state lawyers are admitted to practice, they must work with local counsel. The defendants have asked for court-appointed lawyers, and if the lawyers and arrestees are willing, we will provide legal support and research to the North Dakota lawyers and find lawyers to appear with them.
Our own PK Hammel was there for several weeks already. As the truthout article explains:
Currently, we need more attorneys and legal workers to come to Standing Rock. There were not enough Red Owl Collective members at camp on Sunday or Tuesday to be present at the different actions. Lawyers and legal workers are needed to come to the camp for a week or few days to be part of the Red Owl Collective. We guarantee you will be inspired by the spirit and actions of the camp. "It's not perfect," someone at camp said. "We have to get a few kinks out, but we haven't done this in 140 years."
I encourage everyone to support this monumental coming together of Tribal Nations and supporters to protect their (our) water, sacred sites and the Earth, and to boycott DAPL's bank financiers. The Standing Rock Water Protectors want to support other local and national efforts to achieve the same goals. "Water is Life" is true for all of us.

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