Minnesota State Rep. Peggy Flanagan (D) addresses the Native Nations Rise rally in front of the White House in Washington, D.C, on March 10, 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
Environment | Law | National

Dakota Access Pipeline opponents aim to hold law enforcement accountable for brutal tactics

Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline are planning to move forward with their police brutality lawsuit despite a setback in the courts.

The lawsuit accuses law enforcement in North Dakota of engaging in illegal tactics against pipeline opponents. The lead plaintiff is Vanessa Dundon, a citizen of the Navajo Nation who has nearly lost all of the vision in her right eye after being shot in the face last November during a clash with Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier and his forces.

In February, as the months-long #NoDAPL encampment was winding down, a federal judge declined to order Kirchmeier to stand down so the plaintiffs pursued an appeal. But the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a short decision on Tuesday, said the judge made the right call, The Associated Press reported.

Despite the setback, the Water Protector Legal Collective, a group of attorneys who have been representing pipeline opponents, plan to take their case to trial. The case had been put on hold during the appeal.

"The preliminary injunction is denied, but we will continue our fight for a permanent injunction and to ensure that the state pays for their indiscriminate use of excessive force,” Terry Janis, the group's executive director, said in a press release on Tuesday.

“Although we are certainly disappointed by the decision today, we remain determined to see justice in this case,” added lead attorney Rachel Lederman.

Indianz.Com on YouTube: #NoDAPL Mile Marker - National Museum of the American Indian

The February 7 decision against a preliminary injunction came on the same day the Trump administration approved the final portion of the pipeline. A different federal judge later said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took action without fully considering objections raised by opponents.

By that time, the $3.8 billion pipeline had already been completed and was shipping oil. The judge has since refused to halt operations while the Army Corps comes up with a new analysis that addresses tribal concerns. An answer isn't expected until spring 2018.

Read More on the Story:
Lawsuit filed by Dakota Access protesters to proceed (The Associated Press November 14, 2017)

8th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Dundon v. Kirchmeier (November 14, 2017)

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