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Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Get Legal Help

The majority of state-level criminal cases related to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in 2016 have been adjudicated, but about 100 people still face charges and may not know it. (insideclimatenews.org)
The majority of state-level criminal cases related to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in 2016 have been adjudicated, but about 100 people still face charges and may not know it. (insideclimatenews.org)
August 3, 2018

RAPID CITY S.D. – Legal professionals are in western South Dakota this weekend, trying to locate and help about 100 people who have outstanding warrants for protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline nearly two years ago.

From late 2016 to early 2017, thousands of people protested the potential environmental impacts of the pipeline at a site in southern North Dakota, resulting in 761 arrests. Jess Fuller with the Water Protector Legal Collective says most of the people with outstanding warrants are from the Dakotas, California and New York.

"So it's been this long process over the last two years just handling all the cases, making sure everyone has an attorney, making sure everybody knows about their court date, making sure everybody even has a charge in the first place, and making sure they have all the resources that are needed and are available to them," says Fuller.

The legal collective is planning outreach events today and Saturday at the powwow grounds in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and on Sunday at the powwow grounds in Fort Yates, North Dakota. The hotline number for people who can't make the events but want to know if they're still facing charges related to the pipeline protest is 701-566-9108.

The pipeline, built by Energy Transfer Partners, has been operational since June 2017, after President Donald Trump granted a permit over the objections of tribes and environmentalists.

Fuller says the courts and the WPLC show different numbers for those with outstanding warrants, so she's not surprised some people may not know they still face charges.

"Because you could have been arrested, had your case dismissed, you could have never even been taken into custody, you could never have been arrested, but the state found reason on Facebook or something else to charge you with a warrant," says Fuller.

Fuller says the legal collective is trying to resolve as many court cases as possible by the end of August.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD