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