Eco-Terrorist or Water Protector? Jessica Reznicek Appeals Terrorism Charges

Eco-Terrorist or Water Protector? Jessica Reznicek Appeals Terrorism Charges

Oral arguments for a federal appeal in the high profile case of environmental activist Jessica Reznicek will be heard by the 8th circuit court of appeal on May 13. In a defining moment for the climate justice movement and for all civil rights, the court will decide whether or not to uphold a “domestic terrorist enhancement” that an Iowa court applied to Reznicek’s prison sentence. Reznicek is expected to argue that the terrorism enhancement was both illegally and unjustly applied.

In 2016, Jessica Reznicek took action to stop the construction of Dakota Access Pipeline by dismantling construction equipment and pipeline valves. In 2021 she was sentenced to 8 years in prison with a domestic terrorism enhancement.

Under normal conditions Jess would have been sentenced to 37 months, but the terrorism enhancement resulted in a sentence of 96 months. She was also ordered to pay $3.2 million in restitution to Energy Transfer corporation.

The appeal is supported by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), National Lawyers Guild, Water Protectors Legal Collective, and the Climate Defense Project. “If Jessica Reznicek’s acts can be punished as terrorism,” says an amicus brief filed by CCR, “the United States will have moved so far past the international consensus as to be operating in a completely different realm.”

  • WHAT: Oral arguments for federal appeal, U.S.A. v. Jessica Reznicek. Case # 21-2548
  • WHO: United States Court of Appeals- 8th Circuit, DAPL activist Jessica Reznicek
  • WHEN: Friday, May 13 at 8:30 CST
  • WHERE: St Paul, Minnesota United States Court, Courtroom 5A. Closed to the public in person. Listen in by calling 1-888-363-4749 Code 4423562. Jessica Reznicek is 5th on the docket.

In 2017 Jessica Reznicek and a partner from the Catholic Worker Movement publicly claimed responsibility for acts of vandalism against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In February, 2021 she pled guilty to a single count of Conspiracy to Damage an Energy Facility. In June, 2021 an Iowa judge imposed a “terrorism enhancement” at the prosecution’s request and sentenced Reznicek to 8 years in prison with restitution of over $3 million to be paid to Energy Transfer LLC. No one was injured by Reznicek’s acts of civil disobedience.

Although federal courts have ruled the Dakota Access Pipeline was constructed illegally, excessive punishment for people like Jessica, who tried to stop it, is on the rise – and scrutiny is growing of fossil fuel industry influence in the process. Wrote Jessica in a 2021 statement to the court, “I am not a political person. I am certainly not a terrorist. I am simply a person who cares deeply about an extremely basic human right that is under threat: Water.”

To support Jess’s legal case, visit

Photo: Occupy Des Moines – Day 113: Jess Reznicek Arrested, by Justin Norman. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

1st letter from political prisoner Jessica Reznicek

1st letter from political prisoner Jessica Reznicek

Free Jessica Reznicek

BREAKING: As Joe Biden talks of being a climate leader at #COP26 in Glasgow we received our first letter & update from #JessicaReznicek for the people. Jessica is a climate / water protector political prisoner in the U.S. who was labeled a terrorist just months ago by the US government for her nonviolent action against #DAPL. She asked we share this with all of you!

By Jessica Reznicek


Hello Dear Friends!

I am reaching back out to you to express gratitude for your love and support. These are without doubt difficult times, but your kindness helps to soften the blow. The human spirit certainly is resilient and with your prayers and friendship I am able to overcome obstacles much more gratefully.

A few updates in my world: Through the help of many supporters I am excited to say I have sent out my admissions form to the University of Colorado and in January plan to be enrolled in B.S. Sociology program.

I’ve been approved to volunteer at snow shoveling this coming winter. I’m so happy to very soon be getting outdoors more!

In 2 weeks I’ll be completing a tutoring program and will soon be tutoring my fellow inmates in GED classes, creative writing, empowering women courses and more. Great opportunity for me given so many obstacles.

I am making progress in being accepted into the PAWS program. I am currently being recommended to fill a position that will be opening in January. The new puppies will be arriving at the end of December.

As for hobbie I’m drawing a lot and learning to play the piano. Super peace-giving pastimes.

Anyway, I love you all. I truly do. I am human, so it would be dishonest to not share the other side of things. I’m battling depression and at times still in shock about where I am and for how long I’ll be here. One day at a time! Thank you again for your prayers and love, Peace, Jessica Reznicek”


Please continue to share Jessica’s story as her appeal & petition move forward!


“Water Protectors not Terrorists. Free Jessica Reznicek” T-Shirts

#FreeJessicaReznicek  #COP26Glasgow

Banner image: Tony Webster/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

UPDATE on Jessica Reznicek’s case! SIGN THE PETITION “Protecting Water is Never Terrorism: Repeal Terrorist Enhancement!”, and Free Jessica WEBSITE LAUNCH!

UPDATE on Jessica Reznicek’s case! SIGN THE PETITION “Protecting Water is Never Terrorism: Repeal Terrorist Enhancement!”, and Free Jessica WEBSITE LAUNCH!

Update from July 23, 2021

Featured image photo credit: Christina Yurena Zerr

Since sentencing Jessica has remained on house arrest at the Des Moines Catholic Worker, with her cat Noni who has offered constant comfort and solidarity. The United States Department of Justice has notified Jessica Reznicek that she is scheduled to report to Waseca, MN Federal Correctional Institution on Aug 11th at 2pm. Our hearts are filled with feelings of love and gratitude from all the requests to write letters of support to Jessica. Once she is in prison we will launch a letter writing campaign with all the information and directions on how to do so.

The 8th Circuit United States Court of Appeals has set a preliminary deadline of August 19th for an appeals brief to be filed. The appeal will be focusing on Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger’s misuse of terrorism enhancements at Jessica’s sentencing.

Despite federal authorities use of ‘terrorism’ language to describe Reznicek’s actions, no person was harmed by her actions, nor was she technically convicted of any terrorism-related crime. In plain language, there are already laws on books to punish people for arson, and without the domestic terrorism enhancement Jessica would be looking at less than half of the 8 year sentence she has wrongfully received.


In the meantime, Jessica remains upbeat and heart-strong as she is receiving enormous amounts of support, solidarity and love from folks around the globe. She is currently exploring ways to earn her bachelor degree while in prison through prison correspondence education programs. For more information on Jessica’s case and to continue to support Jessica visit our website:

If you are on organization that would like to add your name to the petition or support team fill out this form:

Thank you for your support!

Love and solidarity,

Jessica and the Jessica Support Team

Update from August 11, 2021

Jessica Reznicek self surrenders for an unjust sentence: appeal and petition move forward.


Waseca, MN– Today water protector Jessica Reznicek self-reported to the Waseca Federal Correctional Facility to begin serving her 8 year prison sentence for the actions she took to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Jessica spent the week leading up to her imprisonment emotionally preparing with her spiritual community. When asked how she felt she said:

“Today I feel sad to be saying my final goodbyes to loved ones. I am strengthened, however, knowing that I’m still standing with integrity during this very important moment in history, as there truly is no other place to be standing at a time like this.”

Jessica’s harsh sentence was the result of a domestic terrorism enhancement that federal prosecutors are increasingly using against water protectors and climate justice activists who endanger the fossil fuel industries profits. Jessica is still actively pursuing an appeal. Her lead attorney Bill Quigley gave an update: “The legal team is working hard on this appeal to challenge the length of the sentence and to reverse the terrorism enhancement. A number of environmental organizations have agreed to consider signing onto amicus or friend of the court briefs supporting Jessica. The deadline for filing briefs is currently August 19 but we expect that will be pushed back at least a month.”

Jessica and her support team are asking the public to sign this petition to take a stand against the criminalization of water protectors. So far over 5,600 have signed along over 50 organizations including Veterans for Peace, MN350, National Lawyers Guild, CODEPINK, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, About Face: Veterans Against the War, and Center for Protest Law and Litigation.

A statement from the support team read “It is important to highlight this moment. Only days ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their most dire report yet, calling it a code red for humanity. We’re in a moment when scientists, indigenous people, and global ecosystems sound the alarm, and over a dozen state governments in the US introduce critical infrastructure bills targeting pipeline protestors under the guise of “national security”. A moment when the sheriffs and police in Minnesota arrest over 600 people fighting to stop the Line 3 pipeline and charge 100 with the new critical infrastructure laws and dozens more with felonies. A moment when a federal judge orders Jessica Reznicek to pay 3.2 million in restitution to a fossil fuel corporation responsible for building a world that humans cannot survive in, a moment when, today, Jessica reports to prison to start an 8 year sentence labeled a terrorist by Joe Biden’s Department of Justice. What happens to Jessica, happens to all of us! In this moment we must unequivocally tell Joe Biden protecting water is never terrorism. Acting on clear directives from climate science with direct action is never terrorism. ”

When life on this planet is under attack, as Jessica says “there truly is no other place to be standing at a time like this.”

Add your name to the Petition:

For more information on Jessica’s case and to continue to support Jessica visit our website:

If you are on organization that would like to add your name to the petition or support team fill out this form:


Is Jessica Reznicek A Terrorist?

Is Jessica Reznicek A Terrorist?

By Paul Deaton in the Blog for Iowa.

Jessica Reznicek, a 39-year-old environmental activist and Catholic Worker from Des Moines, Iowa, was sentenced in federal court June 30 to eight years in prison for her efforts to sabotage construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

In November 2016, Reznicek and Ruby Montoya, a former preschool teacher, set fire to heavy construction equipment at a pipeline worksite in Buena Vista County, Iowa.

Over the next several months, the women used oxyacetylene torches, tires and gasoline-soaked rags to burn equipment and damage pipeline valves along the line from Iowa to South Dakota. Their actions reportedly caused several million dollars’ worth of damage and delayed construction for weeks.

Continue reading this article in the Blog for Iowa

DAPL Eco-Saboteurs Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya Plead Guilty

DAPL Eco-Saboteurs Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya Plead Guilty

Climate activists Ruby Montoya and Jessica Renzicek are pleading guilty in federal court in the legal action against their sabotage of the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

On July 24th, Ruby Montoya and Jessica Renzicek released a press release admitting that they had carried out multiple acts of sabotage against the then-under-construction Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in Spring 2017. The two activists set fire to heavy machinery and used blow torches to damage the oil pipeline and valves in an effort to decisively halt the project. While the DAPL was ultimately finished, their actions singlehandedly delayed construction for weeks or months. Their eco-sabotage resulted in millions of dollars of damage.

In September 2019, Jessica, 39, and Ruby, 30, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit criminal damage to an energy facility, malicious use of fire, and other felonies. Montoya and Reznicek are now set to plead guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to damage an energy facility. The other charges will be dismissed, with sentencing due in May 2021. Pleading guilty may result in up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Both Montoya and Reznicek were seasoned activists and knew sabotage may carry consequences. However, they were clear that direct action was a must, if we are to protect the planet and future of life. They asserted they were in support of indigenous sovereignty and were resisting corporate power.

“Our conclusion is that the system is broken and it is up to us as individuals to take peaceful action and remedy it, and this we did, out of necessity,” Montoya said.

Although the direct action undertaken by Montoya and Reznicek may have been controversial, Deep Green Resistance stands in support of Ruby and Jessica and remains opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline, and any development that destroys the natural world.

Please listen to Ruby Montoya and Jessica Reznicek talking with Jennifer Murnan and Max Wilbert during this 2017 interview, or read the transcript here. Their understanding and commitment is inspiring. We salute Ruby and Jessica and will keep readers up-to-date on their sentencing and where people can send support.