Saturday, December 10, 2016

Class Action Lawsuit Claims The Morton County Sheriff's Office Used Excessive Force And Violated Rights To Protest DAPL

Use of excessive force by the Morton County Sheriff's Office and assisting law enforcement agencies was used against #NoDAPL protesters/water protectors who had peacefully and rightfully engaged in a protest at the Backwater Bridge in Cannon Ball, N. Dakota.

By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.

December 10, 2016

Bismarck, N. Dakota -  A class action lawsuit by the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) representing nine Plaintiffs, Vanessa Dundon, Jade Kalikolehuaokalani Wool, Crystal Wilson, David Demo, Guy Dullknife III, Mariah Marie Bruce, Frank Finan, Israel Hoagland-Lynn and Noah Michael Treanor was filed in the U.S. District Court, District of North Dakota, Western District against Defendants, Kyle Kirchmeier (Morton County Sheriff), Morton County, City of Mandan, Jason Ziegler (Mandan Chief of Police), Stutsman County, Chad Kaiser (Stutsman County Sheriff), and DOES 1-100 claiming the use of excessive force and violated the First and Fourth Amendment rights of plaintiffs on November 29, 2016 at the Backwater Bridge in Connor Ball. The case, Dundon v. Kirchmeier, Case No. 1:16-cv-406 was filed in late November and "Plaintiffs seek a TRO and Preliminary Injunction that will prohibit Defendants, their employees, and those acting in concert or active participation with them, from using excessive force in responding to the pipeline protests and prayer ceremonies."
According to the case filing, the Plaintiffs claimed that the Defendants violated their Constitutional rights, which includes "their First and Fourth Amendment rights by using highly dangerous weaponry, including Specialty Impact Munitions (SIM, also known as Kinetic Impact Projectiles or KIP), explosive "blast" grenades, 
other chemical agent devices, and a water cannon and water hoses in freezing temperatures, to quell protests and prayer ceremonies associated with opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
"DAPL is being built immediately north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and is planned to traverse the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. On November 20, 2016, the Plaintiffs were peacefully and legally in the area of Backwater Bridge on Route 1806 near the Standing Rock reservation. Defendants unleashed a violent, unjustified, and unprovoked physical attack on Plaintiffs and others, without warning or opportunity to disperse. As a direct result of Defendants' illegal use of force, Plaintiffs suffered severe injuries, including a 21-year-old woman (Sophia Wilansky) whose arm was nearly torn off by an explosive grenade and is currently undergoing multiple surgeries and facing permanent disability, and another woman who was shot in the eye causing a serious eye injury with ongoing severe pain and possible permanent blindness in that eye. Defendants deployed an arsenal of dangerous implements and devices, including SIM (such as lead-filled, shotgun-fired 'beanbags' and high-velocity plastic and foam rubber 'sponge rounds'); explosive flashbang-like grenades such as "Instantaneous Blast CS grenades" and Stinger grenades; other chemical agent devices; and a high pressure water cannon and fire hoses, despite the subfreezing temperature...Defendants' unjustifiable use of violent, excessive, military-style force against peaceful protesters came to a head on the evening of November 20, when more than 400 water protectors came to a bridge on Highway 1806 across from an inactive DAPL construction site less than a mile from the Oceti Sakowin Camp...Dozens of Morton County officers, City of Mandan police officers, and other assisting law enforcement officers arrived at the bridge in riot gear along with City of Mandan fire trucks and a Stutsman County Sheriff's Department armored vehicle with a water cannon mounted on top. Id. Despite sub-freezing temperatures and a barbed-wire fence separating the water protectors from the police and the construction site, Defendants used water cannon and fire hoses  on the water protectors. Id. Defendants also attacked the water protectors with chemical agents, explosive grenades, and SIM...Sheriff Kirchmeier and the other defendants were well aware that their actions were likely to cause great bodily harm and constituted intentional and reckless use of excessive force.
"However, the next day, Defendants Kirchmeier and Mandan Police Chief Jason Ziegler publicly defended use of the water and indicated that they would do it again...Plaintiffs seek a TRO and Preliminary Injunction that will prohibit Defendants, their employees, and those acting in concert or active participation with them, from using excessive force in responding to the pipeline protests and prayer ceremonies. Specifically, the indiscriminate use of SIM, explosive grenades, chemical agents, Directed Energy Devices, sound cannons, and water cannons or hoses, as means of crowd dispersal should be prohibited...Plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court enter a preliminary injunction and, pending the preliminary injunction hearing, that this Court schedule an emergency hearing and issue a temporary restraining order for the relief requested in the Complaint."

Class action lawsuit by NLG filed (PDF):

No comments: