Dakota Access Pipeline Protester Pleads Guilty To Shooting At Law Enforcement
A Dakota Access pipeline protester accused of shooting at law enforcement during protests in 2016 pleaded guilty today to two federal charges that could earn her up to seven years in prison.
Red Fawn Fallis’ plea means she will avoid trial and a possible life sentence had she been convicted.
Fallis allegedly discharged a firearm three times on October 27, 2016. With a prior felony conviction in 2003, Fallis pleaded guilty to a count of civil disorder and a count of gun possession by a convicted felon.
“According to the complaint, during the arrest of Fallis on Oct. 27, 2016, a deputy from the Pennington County’s Sheriff’s Department was kneeling on the ground towards her as she was laying on the ground with her hands tucked under her body, and put her right arm behind her back. The deputy then let go of her left arm while she was resisting arrest to make it easier to handcuff her and two gun shots went off,” Bismarck’s KFYR reported.
Fallis, a Denver-based “water protector,” was reported to have claimed “she was trying to pull the gun out of her pocket and the deputies jumped her and the gun went off.”
Sentencing will likely be held between the end of April and June, according to KFYR.
“I hold the court in the highest regard,” said Fallis. “It’s hard being up here without family or someone to talk to, I apologize. I’m not just wasting my time sitting there [at the halfway house] doing nothing.”
Fallis was one of 761 arrests made in North Dakota during the protest of the Dakota Access pipeline, beginning in 2016. The pipeline came online in June 2017.
The huge mess left by anti-pipeline protesters in North Dakota included hundreds of abandoned vehicles, as first reported by Western Wire in February 2017.
Energy Transfer Partners, the builder of the Dakota Access Pipeline, filed a lawsuit in August 2017 alleging racketeering and defamation against prominent national activist groups it said caused the months-long protest, project delays, and enormous cleanup and law enforcement costs as a result of the anti-DAPL protest.
Energy Transfer Partners also alleges the groups “incited, funded, and facilitated crimes and acts of terrorism to further these objectives,” and “claims that these actions violated federal and state racketeering statutes, defamation, and constituted defamation and tortious interference under North Dakota law.”
Named in the lawsuit were two out-of-state activists from Mississippi Stand, Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya, as reported in Western Wire. The company alleges Reznicek and Montoya “issued a call to action for others to follow in their violent and terrorist actions, and have provided a blue print for arson and property destruction.”
In July 2017, Reznicek and Montoya were charged with destroying parts of an Iowa Utilities Board sign after reading a manifesto justifying their “non-violent direct action,” including “arsonry as a tactic” targeting Dakota Access Pipeline-related properties.
“On election night 2016, we began our peaceful direct action campaign to a Dakota Access construction site and burned at least 5 pieces of heavy machinery in Buena Vista County, IA,” said Reznicek and Montoya. “We recognize that our action wasn’t much, but we at least stopped construction for a day at that particular site.”
Fallis’ plea comes a few months after two men charged with shutting down the Keystone Pipeline were found guilty in North Dakota of interfering with emergency valves on TransCanada’s pipeline. Michael Eric Foster of Seattle and Samuel L. Jessup of Vermont were activists associated with Climate Direct Action.
The men’s “necessity” defense argued that “the dangers of climate change” justified their attack on the Keystone Pipeline property. The judge ruled against the defense’s argument, saying that it did not meet the burden of proof in order to claim necessity in defense.
In October the Energy Builders’ Energy Infrastructure Incident Reporting Center launched a database to track attacks and other incidents involving the nation’s energy infrastructure, including pipelines.
“Incidents of eco-terrorism, sabotage, arson, vandalism and violence are on the rise as severe actions have become a regular feature of pipeline protests, endangering public safety, the environment, jobs, and leaving taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars,” EIIRC wrote on its report submission page, Western Wire reported.
Concerns over attacks on the nation’s pipeline infrastructure prompted a bipartisan October 2017 letter from more than 80 U.S. House members to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting a review of legislation and prosecutorial action by the Department of Justice.
Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and other members of Congress sent the letter to Justice Department officials in order to gauge the adequacy of federal statutes like the Patriot Act and Pipeline Safety Act in guiding the department’s ability to “prosecute criminal activity against energy infrastructure at the federal level.”
“Multiple media sources have reported recent attempts to disrupt the transmission of oil and natural gas through interstate and international pipeline infrastructure,” the House members wrote. “In some instances individuals have used blow torches to burn holes in pipelines or promoted violence against oil and gas company employees.”
In an email to Western Wire, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas) told Western Wire, “Our country is home to an intricate web of interstate and cross-border pipelines that transport the oil and gas that power our communities, offices, and vehicles.”
“Operating this vital infrastructure requires extensive training and attentive personnel. Disrupting or tampering with an active pipeline could have damaging effects on our communities, endanger workers, and inhibit our access to energy. And while I encourage all Americans to assert their First Amendment rights, I encourage them to do so in a safe and peaceful way,” Gonzalez wrote.