Red Fawn Fallis behind screen before sentencing on July 11, 2018 at federal court in Bismarck, ND
Bismarck, ND: Red Fawn Fallis was sentenced on July 11, 2018 to a 57 month federal prison term pursuant to a non-cooperating plea agreement, becoming the second Water Protector arrested in relation to the DAPL pipeline resistance at Standing Rock to be sentenced to a substantial prison term and the second of the five federal cases that the Water Protector Legal Collective is handling to conclude.
As per the terms of the non-cooperating plea agreement accepted by the court on January 22, 2018, the charge of Discharge of a Firearm in Relation to a Felony Crime of Violence was dismissed. Had Fallis gone to trial and been convicted of this charge, she’d have faced a minimum of 10 years and risked up to life in prison.
Today Fallis was sentenced on two charges: Civil Disorder and Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon. Prosecutors had committed to recommending a sentence of no more than seven years in prison; they recommended the full 84 months. Though there is no minimum sentence, presiding Judge Daniel L. Hovland had the authority to go as high as 10 years. He sentenced Red Fawn to 18 months on the Civil Disorder charge and to a concurrent term of 57 months on the Possession charge, with three years of federal supervision to follow, and a $200 assessment ($100 for each charge). He did not assess a fine.
Red Fawn has been incarcerated since October 27, 2016, first in The Heart of America Correctional & Treatment Center in Rugby, ND, then in a halfway house in Fargo, ND, and finally in Burleigh/Morton County Detention Center in Bismarck. She will not be credited with the time served in the halfway house because there was a violation, but she will receive credit for the time she spent incarcerated.
The judge recommended that she be remanded to FCI Phoenix or FCI Tucson where she would not be isolated from other Native American women. While there is no parole in the federal system, with good behavior, and if her last six months are served in a halfway house, she could be released from federal prison as early as late summer 2020.
“The sentence imposed today reflects the judge’s recognition of her case as unique and complicated by a lot of factors. He listened to the testimony in court, read the transcripts of prior hearings and the legal memoranda filed by the parties,” said Red Fawn’s attorney Bruce Ellison.
“The sentence landed in between what we recommended and what the government urged. In a sensitive matter like this the judge has pretty much unlimited discretion and seemed to try and figure out what in his mind made sense,” he said. “It could certainly have been much worse. But the FBI will never be held accountable for abusing this woman by sending a person in to gain access to the camp, feigning a romantic interest, manipulating her family into thinking it was real at the same time telling the people that they should feel afraid of corporate security. But they were the ones bringing in the guns.”
Red Fawn Fallis is Oglala Lakota and was raised in between Denver, Colorado and Pine Ridge, South Dakota. During the Standing Rock encampments she was well-known and respected for her work with youth and as a medic as well as for her deep commitment to her people and to protecting the water. During the hearing today two expert witnesses provided testimony on the physiology of what is known in firearms training as “unintended discharge of a firearm” and on the psychology and impact of childhood trauma and intergenerational, historical trauma; two family members spoke passionately about how valued and missed Red Fawn is by her family and community, her personal growth in the 20 months since her arrest, and the educational and employment opportunities that her community is committed to help provide upon her release.
Red Fawn’s uncle Glenn T. Morris, who is a professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado at Denver, said:
“Justice was not done today. If justice had been done the real criminals—DAPL, Tiger Swan, the FBI and Morton County Sheriff’s Department—would be the ones going to jail for invading our prayer camp and hurting our niece, sister and Auntie Red Fawn. We, her family, friends and supporters, are the ones who will bring justice to Red Fawn by supporting her and being with her every day, week and month of her incarceration, no matter where it is. We are the ones who will be restoring her, and she will restore us when we welcome her back to our family and community in Denver on the day of her release.”
Water Protector Legal Collective stands by Red Fawn and we call on Water Protectors and community members to continue to support her through this difficult time. Please follow her Support Committee website for information on how to write to her and be in solidarity with her as she serves her prison time.
*This statement may be excerpted or reproduced in full on the condition of proper attribution to: Water Protector Legal Collective (except that quotes are to be attributed to the speaker as indicated above).
Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC) provides on-the-ground legal representation and coordination for Water Protectors engaged in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, ND.