As DAPL Construction Advances, Water Protectors Continue Direct Action

IA, RI, ND – As construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) continues, water protectors are regularly engaging in direct actions in attempts to halt the progress of the pipeline. Simultaneously, during the week of October 17th, solidarity actions have been held in several states with direct resistance to pipeline construction continuing to occur in both Iowa and North Dakota.


In Iowa, local news affiliate KFYRTV, reported a woman and her husband were arrested and charged with trespassing last Saturday after they blocked trucks carrying DAPL pipe across their farm. Cyndy Coppola says that Dakota Access is using her land without her consent and that her farm, along with eight others, is currently suing DAPL for seizing their land through condemnation court eminent domain, a process which they say took place improperly, in violation of Iowa law.

This week, local authorities also announced that a fire causing up to $2 million in damage to DAPL construction equipment, suspected to be an act of arson, took place in Jasper County, Iowa. Several other fires, also believed to be deliberate arson of DAPL machinery, had previously broken out at pipeline work sites in Jasper and Mahaska counties in Iowa this summer.

DAPL construction equipment at a pipeline site in Iowa, damaged by a fire in August. Image via Newton Dialy News
DAPL construction equipment in Iowa, damaged by a fire in August. Image credit: Newton Daily News

Rhode Island

On the morning of October 20, in a direct action organized by the group The FANG Collective, people acting in solidarity with Standing Rock’s resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, locked themselves together to block the entrance to a TD Bank location in Providence, RI.

TD Bank is one of the primary financial backers of Energy Transfer Partners, the primary corporation behind Dakota Access, LLC.

Live video posted to Facebook shows two people locking arms with a lockbox outside the entrance to TD Bank, one of them attached directly to a concrete barrel.

After the police and fire department arrive on scene, they eventually use a curtain to obscure the view of their attempts to dismantle the lockboxes.

Laura and Steve, the two people who had locked down to block the entrance to TD Bank, were eventually extracted and arrested.

FANG has issued a statement explaining why TD Bank was targeted for this direct action:

Today’s action targeting TD Bank, a major financier of the Dakota Access Pipeline, was done in solidarity with the front line indigenous resistance to the pipeline.

In particular the action was done in solidarity with the Red Warrior Camp which was one of the first groups to deploy escalated nonviolent direct actions to halt construction of the project.

Back in August TD Bank signed on to a $2.5 billion loan to fund the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. But less then half of this money has been distributed so far, meaning that TD and the other banks on the loan still have time to cut the line of credit for the project.” – FANG statement

Krystal Two Bulls, part of Red Warrior Camp’s Indigenous Leadership Council also spoke about the action against TD Bank:

If you live on this land, breathe the air and drink water… this is your fight too! We call on all ally groups to take action and hold the banks who finance the Dakota Access Pipeline accountable. Let The FANG Collective’s action serve as an example of what an ally group should look like! Divest. Take action. Stand with us at Red Warrior Camp and Standing Rock.” – Krystal Two Bulls

North Dakota

Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is still underway in several states, including North Dakota. On Wednesday, October 19, Unicorn Riot documented construction work underway at a Dakota Access Pipeline work site off of Highway 6 in North Dakota, south of the town of St. Anthony.

On the morning of October 20, the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC), a group of attorneys who periodically visit the resistance camps to provide legal consultation, issued a report entitled “In Standing Rock, The Cops Are Out of Control.

The report states that the “the actions of police against the land and water protectors at Standing Rock are depraved, abusive, and disgraceful.

CLDC describes how the Morton County Sheriff, North Dakota Highway Patrol and supporting agencies have been closing roads to prevent protests from taking place, engaging in racial profiling against indigenous people, confiscating sacred objects, spreading baseless allegations of cattle slaughter and theft, and encouraging local farmers to “arm themselves” against water protectors.

The report also states that law enforcement officers have not been wearing name plates or badge numbers, which CLDC says appears to be in violation of North Dakota law.

Morton County Sheriff, North Dakota Highway Patrol, and Fargo Police, as well as National Guard in military fatigues in an unmarked SUV, were all seen on Highway 1806 near the resistance camps throughout the day of Thursday, October 20. A helicopter and single-engine aircraft continue to make regular, circling, low flights over the camp for many hours out of the day.

Recently, press freedom organizations such as the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists have issued statements denouncing the criminal charges that have been filed against journalists arrested while reporting on #NoDAPL direct actions.

Four Unicorn Riot journalists continue to face prosecution resulting from our coverage of #NoDAPL protests in both Iowa and North Dakota. Actress Shailene Woodley, arrested while livestreaming a protest at a DAPL site in Morton County, ND on October 10, published an article about her arrest on today.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier recently confirmed to the Dickinson Press that his staff have been compiling dossiers on people arrested at pipeline protests (presumably including our journalists). The Morton County Sheriff appears to be politically profiling different individuals based on their alleged past attendance of protest events:

The detailed reports highlight anti-police propaganda and speech that some of those arrested have previously posted to Facebook and Instagram. One woman was convicted in Minnesota of obstructing the legal process by interfering with a peace officer, a gross misdemeanor, and had a felony charge of assault on a peace officer dismissed. Another woman is described as having a history of protesting pipelines, including the Keystone XL, and of supporting ‘radical left wing environmental groups and causes’…The reports also note past participation in protests such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter.”  Dickinson Press article on Morton County Sheriff compiling dossiers on #NoDAPL water protectors

The National Lawyers Guild has announced that while working with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota, they have filed numerous records requests about what they call “unconstitutional surveillance” of #NoDAPL protests to a long list of law enforcement agencies whose personnel have been deployed against water protectors.

Today, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), in conjunction with the ACLU of North Dakota, sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and North Dakota Open Records Act requests to multiple state and federal agencies in response to the surveillance and arrests of the Native-led Water Protectors attempting to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). In an affront to First Amendment rights, Water Protectors and allies have been continuously surveilled by low-flying planes, helicopters, and drones, and have had local cell phone communications jammed and possibly recorded. Dozens of local and out-of-state law enforcement have been called in, maintaining a heavily militarized presence at the site in an effort to intimidate activists and chill dissent.” – National Lawyers Guild statement

Unicorn Riot has previously requested records demonstrating social media surveillance practices from North Dakota’s Department of Emergency Services (NDDES), who runs the state fusion center, only to have NDDES deny our request based on references to “trade secrets” and “public safety”. We continue to file records requests to various agencies involved in policing #NoDAPL direct actions- we have filed over thirty requests this week alone.

Unicorn Riot will continue to regularly provide direct updates about resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Follow our media on Twitter, Facebook, and our website for more information surrounding the ongoing struggles against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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Unicorn Riot’s early summer reports of the anti-Dakota Access Pipeline struggle:

March 29th, “Tribal Citizens Prepare to Blockade Bakken Oil Pipeline“; April 3rd, “Tribal Citizens Build Camp in Path of Oil Pipeline“; May 5th, “Sacred Stone Camp Resists Dakota Access Pipeline“; and May 27th, “Dakota Access Pipeline Blockade Enters 2nd Month“.

Our coverage of #NoDAPL from August 2016 until present:

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

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