Standing Rock protests landed Providence woman in jail, and gave her a new purpose

PROVIDENCE — Retired environmental planner and former stay-at-home mom Mary Redway recalls the moment she decided to upend life as she knew it and head across the country alone to see the Standing Rock pipeline protests for herself.

Redway, then 64, was watching with interest in 2016 as Native American youths embarked on a 2,000-mile run to Washington, D.C., in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

At the time, Redway had been planning to head to North Dakota to witness firsthand the protest being waged by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the 1,172-mile-long oil pipeline. Seeing young people take a stand to protect their drinking water and the tribe’s ancestral grounds cinched it.

Redway packed her Honda Fit with provisions and headed out alone on the 29-hour drive.

“I wanted to see why this movement was making people stand up straight,” Redway said in an interview Wednesday from North Dakota Wednesday.

Redway’s odyssey would transform her life. Almost a year to the day after her arrival at the Standing Rock camp, Redway and 27-year-old Alexander Simon, a teacher from Santa Fe, became the first people to serve prison time for their roles in protests that drew supporters worldwide and law enforcement officers from throughout the nation.

The Supreme Court in North Dakota on Tuesday upheld Redway’s conviction for disorderly conduct. The high court found that Redway and Simon’s attempts to approach construction equipment on private property, despite police warnings, is not constitutionally protected speech and that, as a result, the judge did not err in considering the evidence.

Redway is considering yet another appeal, arguing again that she was wrongly convicted for exercising her free-speech rights and the right to protest.“I feel compelled to carry on,” said Redway, whose children are now adults. “It’s not momentous. I just feel it’s wrong.”

Read the full article in The Providence Journal.