North Dakota sees setback in pursuit of Dakota Access Pipeline resisters


Marcus Frejo, right, and Morgun Frejo, at the #NoDAPL encampment in North Dakota. Both saw felony charges dropped in state court on October 17, 2016. "Victory Dance. Water is life. Aho Turahe," Marcus wrote afterward. Photo by Marcus Frejo

Authorities in North Dakota are seeing some setbacks as they pursue felony charges against activists who are trying to stop the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline.

Judge John Grinsteiner allowed felony charges to go forward against Corey Maxa, The Bismarck Tribune reported. He attached himself to construction equipment and state authorities allege the removal process was dangerous to himself and others, the paper said.

Grinsteiner, however, did not allow felony charges against Marcus Frejo, a member of the Pawnee Nation who is also known as Quese IMC, The Tribune reported. He never attached himself to any equipment although the state claimed he wanted to do so.

"Our felonies dropped today in court. Victory Dance. Water is life. Aho Turahe," Frejo wrote on Instagram on Monday. His nephew, Morgun Frejo, was being charged with a felony but the state won't be pursuing it either, The Tribune reported.

In a third case, Grinsteiner did not allow the state to proceed with a felony riot charge against journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! Her coverage of a September 9 attack on #NoDAPL resisters has been viewed on Facebook more than 14 million times.

"We should not be alone in the major media coming to cover this historic unification of Native Americans from more than 200 tribes, from Latin America to the United States to Canada," Goodman said on Monday outside of the courthouse in Morton County. "All of the media should be there, given the scope of this struggle."

Despite the dismissal of felony charges, the state is still pursuing low-level misdemeanors against the #NoDAPL resisters and Goodman. Chairman Dave Archambault II and others leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are also being charged for allegedly interfering with construction of the controversial and costly pipeline.

"All of that is unnecessary if you look at the actions that have been taking place in North Dakota and compare them to other actions in other states," Archambault told Goodman in an interview outside of the courthouse before the cases were heard, referring to the heightened law enforcement presence near his tribe's reservation.

Court records can be accessed online at the North Dakota Courts Records Inquiry. Select the "South Central District" -- the region that includes Morton County, where the sheriff has aggressively pursued #NoDAPL resisters -- and then follow the "Criminal\Traffic" link. Both a first and last name must be entered into the system for it to work.

Fewer than 100 people have been arrested, accounting for a very small percentage of the thousands who have been to the #NoDAPL encampment in recent mounts.

Read More on the Story:
Judge Rejects Riot Charge Against Amy Goodman of ‘Democracy Now’ Over Pipeline Protest (The New York Times 10/18)
Felony charges against protesters put to the test (The Bismarck Tribune 10/17)
Judge Rejects "Riot" Charges Against Amy Goodman in North Dakota (Democracy Now 10/17)
Riot charge dropped against Democracy Now journalist (The Bismarck Tribune 10/17)
Judge Throws Out Charges Against Journalist Who Covered Dakota Access Pipeline (Mother Jones 10/17)

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