Dakota Access pipeline protester charged with attempted murder
Authorities say activist fired three shots at police deputies trying to move occupiers off private land
A Dakota Access pipeline activist was charged Monday with attempted murder for allegedly firing three shots at deputies as they tried to remove protesters last week occupying private property in Morton County, North Dakota.
Red Fawn Fallis, 37, was charged with attempted murder, preventing arrest, carrying a concealed weapon, marijuana possession, engaging in a riot and criminal conspiracy to endanger by fire during the Thursday protest along state Highway 1806.
The criminal complaint filed by the Morton County state’s attorney said deputies were attempting to handcuff her as she lay face-down on the ground when she pulled out a .38 revolver from underneath her and began firing.
Neither of the deputies was hit, but Ms. Fallis told them later “they are lucky she didn’t shoot all of you,” according to the complaint.
Her arrest came as the National Sheriffs’ Association joined North Dakota lawmakers in urging the Obama administration to send resources as violence escalates at the 11-week-old protest.
Jonathan Thompson, NSA executive director and CEO, said in a letter to Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch that the occupation is “long past the point of peaceful and respectful protest.”
He said the federal government has aided the protesters, who number from 1,500 to 2,500, by allowing them to camp on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property.
“From our perspective, the federal government’s inaction is tantamount to supporting (and encouraging) dangerous behavior by the same individuals committed to creating economic and community chaos,” said Mr. Thompson in his Thursday letter.
Law enforcement arrested 142 activists in connection with Thursday’s faceoff, which saw protesters burn vehicles, set fires on Highway 1806 and a nearby bridge, and throw Molotov cocktails, rocks and debris at officers.
More than 100 officers were able to remove highway barricades and a camp set up on private property owned by the development company by protesters trying to stop the construction of the 1,172-mile, four-state pipeline.
Meanwhile, activists have called on the Obama administration to intervene by blocking the pipeline project while accusing local law enforcement of overly aggressive tactics in response to the protests at the construction site.
“The Department of Justice must send overseers immediately to ensure the protection of First Amendment rights and the safety of thousands here at Standing Rock. DOJ can no longer ignore our requests,” said Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman David Archambault II in a Thursday statement.
The Army Corps of Engineers released a statement Monday saying that it “takes the situation in North Dakota very seriously and does not condone any acts of lawlessness emanating from or on its project lands.”
“We are concerned for the health and safety of all individuals involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, and continue to work with other agencies, law enforcement and tribal representatives to stress the importance of respecting the rule of law and the right to peaceful protests,” said the statement.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has raised concerns about the project’s impact on water quality and sacred sites, prompting the Corps to place a hold on construction on its land and undertake a review of the tribal consultation process.
Ms. Fallis had been arrested twice before during protests and faces prior charges of disorderly conduct and criminal trespass.
The attempted murder charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or a fine of $20,000.
The two deputies, who work for the Pennington County Sheriff’s Department in South Dakota, were among officers from six states that joined local law enforcement to help remove the protesters.
WRITE LETTERS OF SUPPORT TO RED FAWN FALLIS
Red Fawn Fallis
c/o Morton County Detention Center
205 1st Ave. NW
Mandan, ND 58554