Judge cancels order, calls pipeline protesters ‘Hooligans’
Red Power Media, Staff | Sept 16, 2016
A federal judge cancelled a temporary restraining order that prevented the Standing Rock tribal chairman and several other protesters from “unlawfully interfering” with construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, but had harsh words for what he called unlawful and violent protesters who “constitute a very small percentage of the entire entourage.”
The Bismarck Tribune reports, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland wrote Friday the order no longer served a “legitimate purpose,” because cases are being prosecuted locally and additional federal sanctions are not warranted.
A temporary restraining order against Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II, council member Dana Yellow Fat and five other protesters was issued in mid-August after Dakota Access LLC filed a lawsuit against them. The company argued the order was necessary to stop the protesters from interfering with construction, threatening the safety of workers and ultimately costing the company business.
The order barred the protests from “unlawfully interfering in any way with the plaintiff and its representatives’ access and construction of the pipeline.”
According to inforum.com, Attorney Tim Purdon, who represents Archambault and Yellow Fat, said they’re pleased with the court’s ruling. In a motion to dismiss filed Thursday, Purdon wrote that neither tribal official condones anything other that peaceful opposition to the pipeline, which is protected by the First Amendment.
“Chairman Archambault has really been the voice calling to make sure the protest themselves remain peaceful,” Purdon said Friday.
“To suggest that all of the protest activities to date have been ‘peaceful’ and ‘lawful’ defies common sense and reality,” Hovland wrote, mentioning incidents of vandalism, trespass and verbal taunts toward law enforcement.
“Nearly every day, the citizens of North Dakota are inundated with images of ‘peaceful’ protesters engaging in mindless and senseless criminal mayhem.”
Hovland linked some of the recent crime to “troublesome ‘peaceful protesters'” from out-of-state, who have “hidden agendas vastly different and far removed from the legitimate interests of Native Americans of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who are actually impacted by the pipeline project.”
“It is clear the criminal justice system is currently addressing, and will continue to address, the mindless and senseless criminal activity of the hooligans that choose to accompany the protest movement.”
A hearing scheduled for next week in the case has been canceled. Hovland has not ruled on a motion to dismiss the overall lawsuit.
Purdon said the underlying lawsuit starts from the premise that the Dakota Access Pipeline has all of the permits needed to construct under the Missouri River north of the Standing Rock reservation. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said last week it will not authorize construction on Corps land in that area until further evaluation.
“Right now, they don’t have that right under the current set of facts, so the case should be dismissed,” Purdon said.
Nearly 70 people have been arrested in connection with protest activities, including seven who are facing felony charges.