For so many of us, Thanksgiving is a symbol of the violence and stolen land that this country was built upon. Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) is asking you – our community – to acknowledge and honor that history by standing with us against colonialism and in solidarity with the hundreds of Water Protectors who are still facing legal charges because of their courage and determination to protect our water and to resist DAPL.
Stand with Water Protectors this holiday season by contributing to our legal work.
Water Protector Legal Collective was born in the encampments at Standing Rock. We came at the invitation of Standing Rock tribal leadership and began our work out of a tent – offering legal advice, advocacy and representation to everyone in camp. We were there when the destruction of sacred sites began; when the dogs were attacking; when the water cannons were directed at us in sub-freezing temperatures; and when camp was cleared. We celebrated with you all when the injunction was announced and we cried with you all when it was lifted and when oil began to flow under Lake Oahe. And we are still here today.
We made a commitment to see these cases through until the very end. We did so with a full understanding of what that would mean. We are still here, working day and night to honor that promise and fighting hard for each and every Water Protector with criminal charges. We have not let up on the struggle to seek accountability from the state and from private contractors for their extreme violence and for the destruction of sacred sites and for yet another insult to indigenous sovereignty that this pipeline represents.
We have had many victories along the way. We brought experienced movement lawyers and legal workers here from across the country to work with us in camp and in court. When the state would not allow our attorneys to practice in North Dakota we filed a petition in ND Supreme Court to change the rules – and won. More recently, the judges who are hearing these cases tried to get those special rules rescinded. With the support of hundreds of you who sent in comments to the court, we won again.
There were over 800 state criminal cases that we have been supporting. So far, over 450 of those have been concluded – the vast majority of them with dismissals. However this work is far from over. Over 300 state criminal cases remain and we have not slowed down in our effort to aggressively fight every one of those charges.
This winter we are gearing up to defend six indigenous Water Protectors who have been singled out and charged with federal crimes. The first trial will be Red Fawn Fallis at the end of January 2018. These Water Protectors are facing long prison sentences and need everyone’s prayers and support during the coming months as they prepare for trial.
Each of these prosecutions is a continuing insult to indigenous rights. They are attempts to silence free speech, restrict religious expression and crush opposition to the spoiling of sacred collective resources.
Here at WPLC we have much to be thankful for. We are deeply honored and grateful to have been a part of this work and to be a part of this inspiring and powerful community – especially during these dark and dangerous times. We are grateful for the tremendous support we have received over the past year that has allowed us to do this work. And most of all, we are so very grateful to have the honor of supporting Water Protectors through some very dangerous interactions with the state.
We invite you to join us in that work. We cannot do it without you.
As always, feel free to reach out to us at 701-566-9108 or [email protected].
Executive Director, Water Protector Legal Collective
PS: Please amplify your support by sharing this message with your networks and on social media. Stay tuned to our website and remember to follow us on Facebook for the latest news and updates in our ongoing effort to defend Water Protectors.
Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) provides on-the-ground legal representation and coordination for Water Protectors in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, ND.