Water protector Marcus Mitchell won a victory in the Eighth District Court of Appeals today; the ruling reversed a lower court decision that dismissed his excessive force claims.
Mitchell’s lawsuit now goes back to lower court for further deliberations.
Morton County Sheriff’s deputies shot Mitchell with lead-filled bean bags while he peacefully protested the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in 2017. One of those bean bags hit him in the head, shattering his eye socket. (Photo here.) Mitchell lost sight in his left eye, and has partial hearing loss in his left ear, an article in The Guardian said.
The decision is powerful in how it paints a clear picture of Morton County’s excessive use of force against many water protectors.
The After Action Report on Minneapolis’ response to the George Floyd uprising, released last week, pounds lumps on city leaders for their lack of preparation and leadership, but mostly spares the Minneapolis Police Department from criticism.
The report fails to paint a full picture. It centers voices of police and city officials, not residents. It only looks at the public expression of anger during the short period of the uprising; it ignores police violence over many years that built up that anger.
Most of the blame falls to the city. It didn’t ask the consultants to look at context, and context is everything. It asked the consultants such things as how the city could better prepare “for future civil disturbances” rather than how to prevent them.
Reuters is reporting that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will grant Energy Transfer Partners the needed easement to tunnel under the Missouri River to complete the Access Pipeline (DAPL). The Standing Rock Sioux Nation says it will fight the decision in court.
Minnesota Public Radio is reporting that a judge says the suit brought by water protectors against law enforcement for excessive use of force and civil rights violations is unlikely to succeed.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland didn’t immediately rule on a motion filed Monday by law enforcement to dismiss the lawsuit, but he did deny an earlier request by pipeline opponents to bar police from using such things as chemical agents and water sprays as a means of dispersing crowds of protesters. …
The judge said protesters were trespassing during the confrontation and that “no reasonable juror could conclude” that officers acted unreasonably.
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is not the first example of environmental racism suffered by the Standing Rocking Nation. A recent op/ed piece in Native News Online.Net gives important history.
Missouri flood waters decimated Omaha, Nebraska in 1943; Congress responded by passing the Pick–Sloan Act, also known as the Flood Control Act of 1944, writes LaRae Meadows. It became part of a comprehensive plan covering other commercial and safety aspects of the river.
As the plan took shape over the next two decades, the burden for its success fell heavily on Native peoples. Part of the response included construction of the Oahe dam in South Dakota, a project that backed up the Missouri River for water storage and hydropower — flooding land in North and South Dakota. Meadows writes:
Lake Oahe Reservoir and hydroelectric dam was created when the Army Corps of Engineers flooded the fertile river lands and displaced a village on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in 1960. A forest was deluged – lost to the water. Bison died. Burial grounds were submerged. Homes were lost.
Over 200,000 acres on the Standing Rock Reservation and the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota were flooded by the Oahe Dam alone. As of 2015, poverty remains a problem for the displaced populations in the Dakotas, who are still seeking compensation for the loss of the towns submerged under Lake Oahe, and the loss of their traditional ways of life.
Yet, writes Meadows: “The Army Corps of Engineers’ requirements under Pick-Sloan may be the last weapon the Water Protectors have to stop the drill and the pipeline.” Continue reading →