STANDING ROCK SIOUX TERRITORY— On November 20, 2016 Native Americans and their allies walked on to a public bridge and prayed.
That action was met with brute force by law enforcement resulting in over 300 reported injuries that same night. Now, they are taking Morton County to court.
In a statement issued by the Oceti Sakowin Camp, officials announced Water Protectors have filed a civil rights class action seeking an emergency restraining order from the US District Court of North Dakota requesting that the Court put an end to the potentially deadly tactics used by law enforcement against them.
The request urges the Court to grant interim relief consisting of an order prohibiting Defendant law enforcement agencies from using excessive force in responding to the pipeline protests and prayer ceremonies and asks specifically for a prohibition on the use of SIM, explosive grenades, chemical agents, and water cannons or hoses, as means of crowd dispersal.
The civil rights complaint seeks justice against the constitutional violations perpetuated against the mostly Native American water protectors, including claims of retaliation and police brutality by law enforcement.
It also seeks to sue Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, and City of Mandan Chief of Police Jason Ziegler for maintaining policies, customs, and practices that led to grave violations of Plaintiffs’ rights secured by the U.S. Constitution.
“This Court must decide whether the poorly trained defendant law enforcement agencies used SIM, freezing water, chemical agents, and explosive grenades to harm the Water Protectors and chill or deter them from their lawful exercise of the rights to free speech, association, and religion in violation of the First Amendment,” says a statement from the Water Protectors at Oceti Sakowin Camp.
“During the 1960’s civil rights era in the United States, African American activists were killed by police while exercising their constitutional rights. People were injured, traumatized and killed for standing up for what is clearly the right side of justice. Native Americans, long brutalized and repressed by colonizing terrorists, are taking their stand in the fight for justice and environmental sanity. The State is again responding with terror and violence in the face of a changing moral and social society,” said the statement.