Reflections on ‘Equal Justice Under the Law’ in North Dakota’s DAPL-Related Cases

Remember the security worker who posed as a water protector at the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protest, the guy with AR-15 assault rifle?

It turns out that Kyle Thompson, 30, was just arrested for domestic violence, carrying a concealed weapon, and possession of marijuana and methamphetamine paraphernalia, according to an article in the Bismarck Tribune. Thompson did three tours of duty in Afghanistan for the Army, and said he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). His sister had been killed recently in a car accident.

He received what could be called a compassionate sentence. Being compassionate is a good thing. At the same time, it is fair to ask how Thompson’s case compares to some of those involving Native American water protectors and their allies.

Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading

MPR Misses the Boat on DAPL Divestment Story

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) ran a piece today headlined: Protest appeared to misstate U.S. Bank’s role in Dakota Access pipeline.

At best, the story makes a technical point. At worst, the headline casts DAPL opponents in an unfair light, claiming they are “misstating” the facts — that is, misrepresenting them or even lying. The story certainly misses the larger political picture. Continue reading

DAPL, Standing Rock are Becoming National Metaphor and Model

p1010103Standing Rock is becoming a national model for opposing oil pipelines. Read a story about a oil pipeline controversy in other parts of the country and it will reference DAPL or Standing Rock.

For example, here is a Jan. 4 story from Folio Weekly, a Florida-based magazine, with the headline: Florida’s Own STANDING ROCK. It concerns the Sabal Trail Transmission, a gas pipeline that crosses Alabama, Georgia and Florida. According to the story:

The $3.2 billion project crosses 13 counties in Florida and more than 700 bodies of water, including the Withlacoochee, Suwannee, and Santa Fe rivers. The EPA approved the project despite its concerns about the pipeline’s path through 177 acres of conservation areas, including the Green Swamp and Rainbow Springs in Florida. …

Similar to Standing Rock, people in Florida worry about the potential leaks and their impact on drinking water. Pipeline opponents have adopted the Standing Rock term “water protectors” and created a Water Is Life Camp near the Santa Fe River.

Wisconsin’s Chippewa Tribe also is fighting a pipeline battle, according to a Jan. 6 MPR story:

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s tribal council voted Wednesday to refuse to renew several easement rights of way for Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline that expired in 2013….

The Bad River Band’s decision comes amid an ongoing protest over the Dakota Access Pipeline in which the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribes have argued the project threatens drinking water and tribal cultural sites.

Click on the story for details.

More updates on DAPL and environmental justice issues follow. Continue reading

Lawsuits Being Readied Against North Dakota Law Enforcement, and More Stories from Indian Country Today

I spun through Indian Country Today’s news page for the past few days — so many good stories. They include articles on:

  • Lawsuits that will be pressed against law enforcement for the excessive force used against the water protectors near Standing Rock.
  • How a Native American water protector got an electoral vote for U.S. President.
  • Canada’s efforts to take action on its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and
  • How stopping one oil pipeline is winning a battle, not the war.

Below is a quick summary of each article and links to the full text. (And consider bookmarking Indian Country Today on your browser.) Continue reading

Water Protectors Lack Needed Legal Help in Court; Updates on Pipeline Leaks; Upcoming Event: Storytelling and Winter Gathering

Hundreds of water protectors were arrested trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, and now that their court dates are coming up they don’t have adequate legal defense, according to an article in Think Progress. The article, published Dec. 15, starts out:

Trials for Dakota Access Pipeline protesters begin next week, but there aren’t enough attorneys to take their cases. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department lists 264 people who have no lawyer at all, and the 265 people who have been assigned public defense attorneys aren’t receiving adequate counsel.

Continue reading

ELCA Brings Shareholder Resolution on DAPL to Enbridge, a Major Pipeline Investor

This is the first in a series of blogs exploring how religious communities who are Standing with Standing Rock are reviewing their investments for ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Will their investments change?

ELCAThe Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has taken a formal position supporting the Standing Rock Nation and its opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). It also is flexing its financial muscle, looking at how its investments are supporting DAPL and asking tough questions of Enbridge, a major DAPL investor.

There is a growing effort to get individuals and institutions to divest from companies tied to DAPL. Divesting is one option outside of the political arena where people can make a difference and vote their values with their money.

The ELCA is a large institutional investor, socking away money for retirement plans for its many employees. It’s the kind of big investor that can influence a corporation. As of the third quarter of 2016, the ELCA had $7.8 billion managed by Portico Benefit Services. (Of that, $6.4 billion was in retirement plans).

The ELCA’s  investments include Enbridge Inc. “whose U.S. vehicle, Enbridge Energy Partners, owns a 27.5% interest in the Dakota Access Pipeline project,” according to Rev. Jeff Thiemann, Portico’s President and CEO. According to a statement Rev. Thiemann made to Healing Minnesota Stories on Dec. 8:

Portico just this week, along with several other investors, submitted a shareholder resolution to Enbridge Inc. [regarding DAPL] … This resolution calls on Enbridge to prepare a report to shareholders detailing the due diligence process used by Enbridge, its affiliates, and subsidiaries to identify and address social and environmental risks, including Indigenous rights risks, when reviewing potential acquisitions.

Continue reading

Videos From and About Standing Rock, and Tribal Victory in Creating the “Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area”

hcmc3Below are links to some videos from and about Standing Rock. There are inspiring interviews with Water Protectors. There is a short interview with a 13-year-old youth leader from Standing Rock right after she learned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) easement. And if you haven’t seen it, there is a link to the Daily Show’s biting take on DAPL. The post ends with an uplifting report from the Native American Rights Fund on the creation of the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area. Continue reading