Native American Protesters Face Federal Charges
Native Americans who protested the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline were the only protesters targeted by federal prosecutors, according to ThinkProgress. The hundreds of other protesters who were arrested only faced charges in North Dakota state court. The Water Protector Legal Collective, a group that has provided legal support for people opposed to the Dakota Access pipeline, hired an expert in late 2016 to poll potential jurors to determine the extent of local bias against the protesters. The expert found that 77% of potential jurors in Morton County, ND and 85% in neighboring Burleigh County, ND had already decided the defendants were guilty, and that many potential jurors have close connections to law enforcement and the oil industry. “It is both heinous and unrealistic to expect that anyone of native ancestry will have faith in getting a fair trial against the office of the U.S. Attorney, or a just sentence from a federal judge, when these institutions represent power writ large in an ongoing history of profound and literally genocidal injustice,” said Moira Meltzer-Cohen, a staff attorney for the Water Protective Legal Collective. The $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline is now fully built, following Donald Trump’s January 2017 order to expedite its completion, which reversed Barack Obama’s block on the project. More here.