Bismarck, ND – A third federal defendant has been sentenced to prison as the US Attorney’s office continues to prosecute indigenous people involved in defending protest encampments opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in fall 2016.
Last Thursday, September 28, Michael Markus, also known as ‘Rattler,’ received a sentence of about three years from Judge Daniel Hovland after taking a non-cooperating plea deal.
Under the non-cooperating plea Markus plead guilty to ‘Civil Disorder’ in exchange for prosecutors dropping the more serious charge of ‘Use Of Fire To Commit A Felony Offense.’
Markus, along with several others, was charged in federal court for his alleged role in lighting fires at barricades of tires and wood that had been dragged out into the road as police and soldiers conducted a violent raid on pipeline resistance camps set up on indigenous treaty lands in the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The massive, heavily armed raid led by North Dakota law enforcement and National Guard, and also featured officers from states across the Midwest, took place on October 27, 2016.
According to the Water Protector Legal Collective, Markus was charged well after-the-fact in connection with the October 27, 2016 raid in order to shore up narratives to justify police violence against protesters at Standing Rock.
“[Michael Markus] was arrested in connection with the turmoil on October 27, 2016, a day in which law enforcement officials used sounds cannons, tanks, tasers, bean bags, rubber bullets and pepper spray against unarmed Water Protectors, and broke sacred objects, tore down tipis, confiscated prayer staffs and demolished an inipi (or sweat lodge), arresting the people in the middle of ceremony within. But he wasn’t indicted until February, 2017. Freeman says that Rattler’s arrest was politically motivated as a justification for law enforcement’s brutality on October 27 and November 20.”
– Water Protector Legal Collective, “Michael “Rattler” Markus Sentenced to 36 Months, Will Self-Surrender in November“
Markus had his non-cooperating plea agreement accepted by Judge Hovland earlier this year on February 13. Under the plea deal, the Assistant US Attorneys prosecuting the case agreed to seek a prison sentence of no more than three years. Last Thursday, Judge Hovland sentenced Rattler to 36 months in federal prison, followed by another three years of supervised release.
Markus is expected to serve about two years in prison with ‘time served’ credit applied from his time in pre-trial detention. Judge Hovland said that he would recommend Markus be placed at the minimum-security Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, South Dakota.
In May, water protector Michael “Little Feather” Giron was also sentenced to 36 months in federal prison for his alleged connection to the flaming barricades during the police raid on October 27, 2016. In July, Red Fawn Fallis received a longer sentence of 57 months in federal prison stemming from charges that she tried to fire a gun at police during her arrest in the October 27, 2016 DAPL raid. Fallis’ supporters say that the gun charges are the result of her entrapment by a man who became her boyfriend while secretly working as an FBI informant.
Several other water protectors still face federal charges, with potential sentences of decades in prison, stemming from their participation in the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Title Image: Michael ‘Rattler’ Markus seen with his partner Olive Bias (L) and his attorney Sandra Freeman (R). Photo courtesy of Water Protector Legal Collective