Standing Rock Water Protectors: Climate Justice Showdown Still Hanging Fire
In what defense attorneys are calling a major victory for their client and for thewater protectors of Standing Rock, prosecutors have dropped all seriouscharges against former North Dakota congressional candidate Chase Iron Eyes in his caseresulting from protests of the Dakota Access pipeline. Chief Iron Eyes, an attorney who worksfor the Lakota People’s Law Project, was facing a maximum of six years in state prisonafter his arrest for alleged criminal trespass and incitement of a riot near theStanding Rock Sioux reservation on February 1, 2017.
“The world should know that it’s legally impossible for me and other Nativepeople to trespass on treaty land,” stated Chief Iron Eyes. Iron Eyes’ attorneys filed documents on Monday proving that his arrest occurred ontreaty land never ceded by the Sioux tribe. The state of North Dakota ruledweeks ago that this land had never beenacquired nor legally owned by pipeline parent company Energy TransferPartners (ETP). “I and the water protectors are not terrorists. We and the US veteranswho stood with us to protect Mother Earth are the true patriots,” said Iron Eyes.
Romero Institute co-founder Daniel Sheehan was chief attorneyon Iron Eyes’ defense team for the Lakota People’s Law Project. Lakota People’s Law is an ongoing campaign of the Romero Institute, an interfaith,nonprofit law and public policy center that grew out of theChristic Institute, and which has been at thecenter of profoundly significant landmark legal cases for socialand environmental justice since the 1980’s.
Radio Planet Watch is honored to host Daniel Sheehan’s son, Lakota People’s Law ProjectProgram Director Danny Paul Nelson. Nelson, who holds a BA in Political Theory fromHarvard and an MA in Social Science from the University of Chicago, speaks withPlanet Watch hosts Jordan and Goodman about the recent legal victory fromStanding Rock, and connections between indigenous rights and climate justice.
“Our work to prepare Chase’s defense unveiled solid evidence of aracially motivated criminal alliance between the oil companies and theprivate military security industry (colluding with local, state, andfederal law enforcement) to deny Native Americans and their alliestheir civil and treaty rights,” said Danny Paul.“Standing Rock focused the attention of the world on the importance of Nativesovereignty and the needs to protect water and resist climate change.Chase’s willingness to pursue a ‘necessity’ defensehas produced strong legal tools for future protesters.”
Prior to the interview with Danny Paul on today’s show, Planet Watch sharedan audio clip from a just released video, We Are Not Terrorists. In the video,Iron Eyes and his team position their anti-pipeline protest in the context of what they assert to be a growing threat posed to civil liberties,embodied by the rise of antiprotest legislation and the burgeoning alliance betweenthe oil companies and the private military security industry.The video is accompanied by an open letter to President Donald Trump.
Danny Paul exposes a dangerous trend has emerging in Trump’s America:The administration is opening Native American reservations and national monument landsto fossil fuel extraction, and activists are being targeted by law enforcementand treated like terrorists. Currently, 20 states have passed or are considering legislationthat would curtail citizen rights to protest environmental destruction and human rights violations.
Moving forward, Lakota People’s Law Project Chief Counsel Daniel Sheehanand the entire team will continue to strategically confront the fossil fuel industryand their destructive agenda, which threatens our water, our planet, and the entire human family.
Positive steps forward now include the Green the Rez initiative.