[Pnews] North Dakota Prosecutors Drop All Serious Charges against Chase Iron Eyes

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Aug 22 10:42:33 EDT 2018


  North Dakota Prosecutors Drop All Serious Charges against Chase Iron Eyes

August 21, 2018

*Chase Iron Eyes Statement **Follows*/

/The Lakota People's Law Project/

In what defense attorneys are calling a major victory for their client 
and for the water protectors of Standing Rock, North Dakota prosecutors 
have dropped all serious charges against former North Dakota 
congressional candidate Chase Iron Eyes in his case resulting from 
protests of the Dakota Access pipeline.

Iron Eyes, an attorney who works for the Lakota People’s Law Project, 
was facing a maximum of six years in state prison after his arrest for 
alleged criminal trespass and incitement of a riot near the Standing 
Rock Sioux reservation on February 1, 2017. In exchange for his 
agreement not to violate any criminal law for 360 days, the state 
reduced all charges to a minor, Class B misdemeanor of disorderly 
conduct. Under this agreement, Iron Eyes will walk away without jail 
time or any risk to his law license.

“The world should know that it’s legally impossible for me and other 
Native people to trespass on treaty land, and I never started a riot. I 
and the water protectors are not terrorists. We and the US veterans who 
stood with us to protect Mother Earth are the true patriots,” said Iron 
Eyes. “Now I can be with my family and continue defending the 
sovereignty of my people. This will allow me to keep working nonstop to 
protect First Amendment, human and Native rights.”

The agreement is pending final approval from Judge Lee Christofferson, 
expected later today.

Iron Eyes’ attorneys filed documents on Monday proving that his arrest 
occurred on treaty land never ceded by the Sioux tribe. The state of 
North Dakota ruled weeks ago that this land had never been acquired nor 
legally owned by pipeline parent company Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) 
due to a North Dakota law prohibiting corporations from acquiring and 
owning agricultural parcels.

According to documents uncovered earlier this year by investigative 
journalists at /The Intercept/, Iron Eyes was identified by the 
TigerSwan military-style security company as a key leader of the 
Standing Rock movement. Iron Eyes’ attorneys say this led law 
enforcement to target him for arrest and levy the felony charge of 
inciting a riot, which carried a potential five years of prison time.

Daniel Sheehan of the Lakota People’s Law Project led Iron Eyes’ defense 
team. “Our work to prepare Chase’s defense unveiled a racially-motivated 
criminal conspiracy by oil companies and mercenary security corporations 
to deny Native Americans and their allies their civil and treaty 
rights,” he said. “Standing Rock focused the attention of the world on 
the importance of Native sovereignty and the needs to protect water and 
resist climate change. Chase’s willingness to pursue a necessity defense 
has produced strong legal tools for future protesters.”

Iron Eyes’ attorneys were asking the court to accept a “necessity 
defense” on his behalf. At a court hearing that had been scheduled for 
this Thursday, the defense would have made the case that any action Iron 
Eyes took was necessary to prevent a greater harm.

Sheehan said that the defense compiled thousands of pages of 
documentation demonstrating that ETP and TigerSwan violated the 
liberties of the people of Standing Rock under the Federal Civil Rights 
Act and that the pipeline posed an existential threat to the tribe by 
jeopardizing its primary source of fresh drinking water.

“The oil company demonstrated racial bias by moving the pipeline from a 
white community to the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation,” 
Sheehan said. “TigerSwan did the same by launching a military operation 
and media campaign to racially profile the Lakota people as 
religiously-driven, Indigenous jihadist terrorists.”

Iron Eyes’ team also charged that prosecutors continually blocked and 
delayed their attempts to gather and disseminate evidence of what the 
defense termed “criminal collusion” between law enforcement officials 
and TigerSwan employees working on behalf of ETP.

“The other side has attempted to quash everything, including affidavits, 
depositions and all our discovery documentation,” said Iron Eyes. “One 
of the key reasons to accept this agreement is to ensure that all the 
evidence, including a recent 160 pages of documentation 
showing the ties and criminal conduct among law enforcement, the oil 
industry and their hired guns, is protected in the public record and 
accessible so people know what really happened at Standing Rock.”

In a just-released video called “We Are Not Terrorists 
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 anti-protest legislation and the 
burgeoning alliance between the oil companies and the private military 
security industry. The video is accompanied by an open letter to 
President Donald Trump.

“My people were the first civilizers of the territory on which I was 
arrested’, said Iron Eyes. “As a Lakota person, I had a right to 
practice ceremony there, with the hope of protecting my people’s water. 
In the 1870s, the US government seized our treaty lands, an act deemed 
unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1980. In 2016, my people and 
our land came under attack once again. But today, thanks to my attorneys 
and to the support of millions around the world, we have another victory 
for the truth.”

The Lakota People's Law Project exists as part of the 501(c)(3) Romero 
Institute, a nonprofit law and policy center


Thanks to your kind and generous support, and the incredible, dogged 
work of the Lakota People’s Law Project legal team, we have all won a 
great victory! Immediately after we filed another 160 pages of 
hard-hitting evidence 
on the necessity defense, the North Dakota prosecutors dropped all 
serious charges against me 
I am no longer facing six years in prison, a long separation from my 
wife and children, and the loss of my law license. Together, we have 
climbed this mountain!

My arrest for alleged criminal trespass and felony incitement of a riot 
has been reduced to a minor, Class B misdemeanor of disorderly conduct. 
As long as I go 360 days without violating any criminal law, even this 
will be expunged from my record.

As you know, it is legally impossible for me and other Native people to 
trespass on treaty land. I never started a riot. I and the other water 
protectors are not terrorists. You and I and the US veterans who stood 
with us to protect Mother Earth are the true patriots.

With these charges behind me, I am looking forward to working with my 
colleague Madonna Thunder Hawk—who stands ready to oppose the Keystone 
XL pipeline at her home on the Cheyenne River Reservation—and my fellow 
Standing Rock tribal member Phyllis Young, who is leading our charge to 
bring renewable energy to Standing Rock as part of our #GreenTheRez 

In the coming months, Lakota People’s Law Project Chief Counsel Daniel 
Sheehan and the entire team will continue to strategically confront the 
fossil fuel industry and their destructive agenda 
which threatens our water, our planet, and the entire human family. We 
will make full use of all of the evidence, affidavits, depositions, and 
testimony you helped us collect as part of this case, which is now 
permanently protected as part of the public record.

/Wopila Tanka/—My humble and warmest gratitude for making this victory 

Chase Iron Eyes
Lead Counsel
Lakota People's Law Project

P.S. My heart is immeasurably lifted knowing that your support has given 
me the opportunity to remain with my family and continue defending the 
sovereignty of the /Oceti Sakowin/. Please continue to stand with the 
Lakota People’s Law Project in our sacred journey as we bring clean 
energy to Standing Rock, challenge Keystone XL, and safeguard the First 
Amendment, Native rights, and /Unci Maka/. Let’s keep the circle strong. 
There is nothing we can’t accomplish together.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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