Direct Actions Continue to Stop DAPL Construction in Iowa and North Dakota

Lee County, IA & Morton County, ND – During the weekend of Saturday, October 15th, direct actions to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline continued in both Iowa and North Dakota.

Around noon on Friday, October 14th, Cameron Kennedy, 27, of Minneapolis, locked himself to a vehicle being used by DAPL contractors to transport drilling byproduct to an unlined earthen pit near the Des Moines River in Keokuk, Iowa.

This type of activity is absolutely necessary to save the planet. Solidarity to all indigenous peoples who have been suffering genocide under white supremacist colonial rule for years now. Water is life. Oil is death. Pick a side. Which side are you on?”  – Cameron Kennedy

Cameron Kennedy, and Dan Solomon who had been providing Cameron with food and water during the lockdown, were arrested as a result of this action. Both are being charged with trespassing. On top of the trespassing charge, Cameron was charged with third degree theft and Dan was charged with aiding and abetting third degree theft. These charges are based on the assertion that by locking himself to the truck, Cameron had in fact stolen the truck, and taken possession of it.

We spoke with Cameron and Dan on the phone on Saturday, who responded to this sudden escalation in charges:

Cameron locked down to the back of the truck, I was giving him support, we were both arrested and charged with trespassing, which is a simple misdemeanor, and – Cameron was charged with third degree theft, and I was charged with aiding and abetting third degree theft, which both are aggravated misdemeanors which carry a sentence of up to two years in prison.

The theft charge comes in because they basically say that we were stealing the company’s money because we shut down their operations for three hours, at $250 an hour. They’re saying that’s the money that they spend to keep it running, and so because it wasn’t running, they’re losing that money, so that’s theft. And what we could tell from the situation, and even from what the Sheriffs were telling us, was that they were trying to escalate the charges.

Up until now, everyone has just been getting simple misdemeanors, but they’re obviously getting very pissed, and we did successfully shut down their operations for over three hours, so they were pissed, and clearly trying to escalate things. We’re both out of jail now, gonna be back going to court for a pretrial hearing next week, but all in all, we successfully shut down their dumping operation which prevents their boring operations.” – Dan Solomon

Basically what they’re alleging is that it costs Dakota Access $250 an hour to employ that driver in that truck, and so since I had that truck locked down for a little more than three hours, they’re alleging that since I had possession of the truck, that in the state of Iowa, that constitutes theft in excess of $750, which is just shy of a felony in the state of Iowa. So, basically, this is Dakota Access pushing the police to really try to have repercussions against protesters, specifically for causing economic damages and turning away investment.

As of right now, the third degree theft charge brings a maximum sentence of up to two years in prison. It’s kind of interesting, because in other environmental sites in the past, like Tar Sands Blockade and stuff, they were already at this level of escalation. The [Sheriff’s] department in Lee County seems to have been just throwing around trespassing charges and kind of testing the waters before accelerated charges, but as our direct action campaign has been ramping up consistently, they are obviously getting more and more nervous as more and more people are coming out here and are interested in shutting this project down, so I think what they’re really trying to do right now is break the incentive of protesters by throwing out more serious sentences, and it’s a strategy you’ll see pretty commonly at a lot of these kinds of actions.”  – Cameron Kennedy

The next day, Saturday, October 15th, three Catholic Workers were arrested blocking a truck from entering the access road to the Lee County, Iowa drill site where construction crews are boring under the Mississippi River.

We will continue this nonviolent direct action campaign with efforts around the clock”, said Frank Cordaro, a Catholic Worker from Des Moines in a press release about the action.

Private security making arrests after direct action blocks access road to Lee County, IA DAPL drill site on Saturday October 15, 2016. Photo via Frank Cordaro Facebook

Unicorn Riot aired a live broadcast on Saturday night recapping some of our media surrounding the struggle to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from being built across the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. We spoke with Ruby, an organizer with the Mississippi Stand camp taking direct action against DAPL in Iowa. Watch the interview below.


In Morton County, North Dakota, on Saturday, October 15, DAPL construction was again disrupted when a water protector crawled on top of an excavator and locked themselves to its hydraulic arm.

A water protector attaching themselves to the hydraulic arm of a DAPL excavator using a lockbox device
A water protector attaching themselves to the hydraulic arm of a DAPL excavator using a lockbox device

Work at two other DAPL sites was interrupted that same morning by a large caravan of water protectors in vehicles.

Cell phone users in the area received an Emergency Alert sent by the local authorities asking them to “please avoid” “protest activity” in the vicinity of St. Anthony, ND:


After a prolonged standoff with militarized forces from Morton County, reinforced by Sheriffs from around the country, 15 water protectors were arrested after crossing the yellow line demarcated by police and refusing to disperse.

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 to protect the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

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To see Unicorn Riot’s coverage of the anti-Dakota Access Pipeline struggle, see below.

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

For our coverage earlier this spring of the Sacred Stone Camp, see May 27th report, “Dakota Access Pipeline Blockade Enters 2nd Month“; May 5th, “Sacred Stone Camp Resists Dakota Access Pipeline“; April 3rd, “Tribal Citizens Build Camp in Path of Oil Pipeline“; March 29th, “Tribal Citizens Prepare to Blockade Bakken Oil Pipeline“.