Dual Threats at Pine Ridge

A new message from Chase Iron Eyes, Lead Counsel, Lakota People’s Law Project, describes the continued challenges from the flooding at Pine Ridge and a threat to the rights of anyone who protests in South Dakota, or supports those who do.

Here at the Pine Ridge Reservation, flood relief efforts are making a huge difference. Your moral support and in-kind donations directly to the Oglala Sioux Tribe have assisted families and helped us recruit the talent needed to keep pushing forward. This Thursday, a preliminary FEMA assessment team will arrive to begin analyzing the damage, and our fingers are crossed that FEMA will recognize that this community has suffered enough to justify a federal disaster declaration. We will know the outcome in June.

Chase Iron Eyes

You can use the following link to send a message to the president, asking for Federal disaster relief to the Pine Ridge Reservation and South Dakota. https://www.lakotalaw.org/our-actions/empowering-the-people-of-the-oglala-sioux-tribe

The other threats relate to two bills signed into law on March 27, 2019, by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. Leaders of the Oglala, Cheyenne River and Yankton Sioux tribes have told the Governor she is no longer welcome on their land.

It is outrageous that the tremendous costs to North and South Dakota were incurred by deploying large numbers of law enforcement officers and their equipment to oppress people who were only praying and peacefully demonstrating against the Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock. There was no need for those resources. They were deployed at the request of the TransCanada Pipeline company. The people of North and South Dakota have a right to be upset that they have to pay those cost, but should realize they were incurred because of TransCanada.

That also means there is no need for a bill like SB 190 because the “extraordinary expenses” came from the state’s mismanagement of the situation at Standing Rock. I find it ironic that the acronym for that bill is “PEACE”.

SB 189 created a fund to recover damages from third parties “to offset costs incurred by riot boosting.” According to the law, someone is responsible for riot boosting if that person participates in a riot or “directs, advises, encourages, or solicits other persons participating in the riot to acts of force or violence.”
SB 190 was created to establish a Pipeline Engagement Activity Coordination Expenses (PEACE) fund to pay for administrative costs and “extraordinary expenses,” which are costs that come as a result of “opposition to a project that would not have been incurred but for pipeline construction” and can cover the performance of law enforcement officers, functions arising from pipeline construction, and prosecution of criminal offenses.

“I fully support the freedoms of speech and assembly, but we must also have clear expectations and the rule of law,” Noem said after signing the bills into law. “My pipeline bills make clear that we will not let rioters control our economic development. These bills support constitutional rights while also protecting our people, our counties, our environment, and our state.”

South Dakota governor ‘not welcome’ at reservation over opposition to Keystone protesters, says Oglala Sioux Tribe, by Brendan Rand, May 3, 2019, ABC News

The Oglala Sioux tribal council tasked President Julian Bear Runner’s office with sending a letter informing Governor Noem of its decision. The governor provoked the ire of the council by recently introducing two so-called “riot boosting” laws. These laws, which went into effect at the end of March, allow the state to sue organizations that encourage protest against pipelines like Keystone XL and levy penalties against those who choose to exercise their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The Lakota People’s Law Project will continue to support all peaceable tribal efforts to resist pipeline construction in Lakota treaty lands. And I can’t overemphasize how much we appreciate your ongoing solidarity! Please continue to stand with us, as the months ahead promise both challenge and more opportunity to make a positive difference. Keystone XL is scheduled to begin construction this summer. We will be here.

Wopila!

Chase Iron Eyes

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of South Dakota had filed a federal lawsuit in April over three South Dakota laws dealing with protests, including the law on riot boosting. The lawsuit said the laws “violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution by targeting and chilling protected speech, and by failing to adequately describe what speech or conduct could subject protesters and organizations to criminal and civil penalties,” according to the ACLU.

South Dakota governor ‘not welcome’ at reservation over opposition to Keystone protesters, says Oglala Sioux Tribe, by Brendan Rand, May 3, 2019, ABC News
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