Indian Country Media Network
A young water protector stands before a line of armed police vehicles near the Standing Rock reservation in Cannonball, North Dakota.
The fight against Dakota Access is not over. Court battles continue, divestment efforts have pulled billions from the company, and resistance all over Turtle Island is ongoing. But while we, water protectors, stand up for the future generations, a massive strategy by state and federal law enforcement seeks to repress and destroy us.
To date, more than 800 cases have been filed against water protectors in the state of North Dakota. Police are combing social media, additional charges are being filed, and grand juries continue to issue indictments.
Despite the attack dogs, mace, rubber bullets, Tasers, water and sound cannons, tear gas, pepper spray, concussion grenades, and dog kennels, our people remained strong. But we must protect ourselves, relatives. Please consider these simple actions to keep you and your fellow water protectors safe:
Do not create lists of water protectors, do “shout outs” for water protectors or “tag” water protectors from direct actions
As great as it is to share memories from the frontlines and remind ourselves of the amazing people we met at camp, law enforcement wants to know who our networks are also. A quick moment of recognition is not worth the scrutiny of federal and state agents.
Compiling a list of water protectors makes the job of law enforcement easier, and can get into consent issues. Regardless of whether we are already on a list somewhere, we shouldn’t put ourselves and others at any unnecessary risk.
Do not spread gossip or rumors
Divide and conquer is an old tactic, and one that can be highly effective. Remember our common goal, despite our differences.
Do not tell others about your arrest prior to being in handcuffs
What happened leading up to your arrest is the part most interesting to prosecutors. They want to build a case against you, to get details that will lead to a conviction.
Do not believe law enforcement can get you out of trouble
Law enforcement does not have to tell you the truth. They are looking for information to hand to a prosecutor building their case.
Do not talk to anyone but your attorney about details of your case
Telling friends, loved ones, fellow water protectors, etc. puts them at risk for receiving a subpoena from the court. Save it for your attorney!
Do exercise your right to remain silent if approached by law enforcement of any kind
You have the constitutionally guaranteed right to remain silent. Once you assert this right, make sure you don’t break it – if you do, just restate it. Do not lie to law enforcement, that can get you in trouble. But always remember that law enforcement does not have to tell you the truth and you do not have to talk to them!
Do assume your social media is being monitored by law enforcement
That post about remembering the day you were arrested? Or the time you and your crew counted coup on DAPL security? Police see those posts, too. Protect yourself and others – think about how law enforcement would view your post before you post it!
Remember when your phone kept crashing at camp and you were pretty sure it kept being hacked? Better safe than sorry – do what you can to protect your personal information by using strong password (capital letter, lowercase letter, a number and a symbol) and applications that are encrypted.
Do contact legal support if you do not have an attorney yet
A court support team is working around the clock to get attorneys connected to water protectors, tracking court dates, handling travel back to North Dakota for court, and logistics for upcoming trials. Please fill out the online form to reach the team here. Fill out a travel form if you need assistance getting to court here.
Do look up your court date if you are unsure
Check here, under “Search Calendar” to determine when your court date is. If you have questions, call the Morton County Clerk at (701) 667-3358.
Do contact the legal team if you are a criminal defense attorney who is interested in representing water protectors
We have a huge caseload and need additional criminal attorneys to ensure representation of the water protectors who stood up for Mother Earth. Please contact us here.