Unarmed Water Protectors Face Riot Police

by Red Warrior Camp

Mandan, ND… Water protectors stopped construction at two Dakota Access Pipeline sites on September 13, northwest of Mandan through nonviolent direct action.

At approximately 10:30 a.m. CST, two water protectors “locked down” to heavy equipment at the first action site. One of the individuals was locked onto the machine for nearly 7 hours.

Trained medics, media, legal observers and police liaisons were on hand to offer support and were also arrested.

Separately, water protectors successfully and peacefully stopped construction at the second site. A worker pepper sprayed one of the water protectors before leaving the scene.

Law enforcement began to arrive within the hour, followed by a large bus load of police dressed in full riot gear. An initial police line was formed with officers toting pellet guns. Filing in behind them was a second line of officers pointing large semi-automatic rifles at the water protectors.

The water protectors were immediately told that they were trespassing and subject to arrest. Morton County Sheriff’s office confirmed that there were 22 water protectors in custody by 4:00 p.m. The majority of those arrested are charged with Criminal Trespass, a Class B Misdemeanor.

The two individuals who locked down to the equipment are charged with Criminal Trespass, Disorderly Conduct, and Obstruction of a Government Function.

The Morton County Jail booking process of the water protectors continued on into the evening hours. Jail officials 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.

The volunteer legal team assisting the water protectors called upon Chad Nodland, a local attorney who was also met with resistance by Morton County Jail staff. Although some of the inmates had been processed, the jailers informed Nodland that he would have to wait until all 22 arrested were processed before he could speak to them individually.

Morton County Sheriff’s Office refused to comment at press time. The water protectors’ bond hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. CST on Wednesday, September 14th at Morton County Court House in Mandan, ND.

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