Bismarck, ND: Alexander Simon was released from Morton County Detention Center today.
Alexander Simon and Mary Redway were the first two Water Protectors to be sentenced to jail time for first amendment activity at Standing Rock. Simon served 12 days and Redway served four days.
By imposing jail time the judge departed from the State’s Attorney’s recommendations for suspended sentences. Simon and Redway faced a total of five charges at trial. They were acquitted on all but one count of Disorderly Conduct.
Simon released a statement from jail that read in part:
I was singled out among many who were unjustly arrested. It seems that Judge Thomas A. Merrick wanted to make an example of me, berating me because, in his opinion, I didn’t “have a dog in the fight.” He is mistaken and I am proud to help shoulder the burden in the fight for Indigenous Rights. If this is the price I must pay for Indigenous Peoples to pursue a path towards sovereignty, I am honored to do it.
Redway was among the group that met Simon on his release today. She had the following to say:
I firmly believe that the judge was sending a message when he found me guilty of Disorderly Conduct, sentenced me to six days in jail, and had me shackled right there in the court room like a scene from a bad movie. He wants to discourage allies from standing in solidarity with Standing Rock: If you dare to come here and protest, we will arrest you and throw you in jail. We do this even to 65-year-old white women who go on prayer walks.
Alexander Simon, 27, is a teacher living in New Mexico. Mary Redway is 64 years old, and a retired environmental planner from Rhode Island.
Simon and Redway were arrested along with approximately 140 others on October 22, 2016. The vast majority of those cases have been dismissed for lack of evidence. The other Water Protectors who were tried together with Simon and Redway on October 18-19 were acquitted of all charges. All but two of the previous trials arising from that day have resulted in acquittals. The previous two convictions carried no jail time.
Eleven other Water Protectors have been convicted at trial, but in each of those cases the judge did not find jail time to be appropriate.
Nearly 400 Water Protectors are still awaiting trial in their state cases and six are preparing for federal felony trials. The first federal trial will be Red Fawn’s at the end of January, 2018.