By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News Today
Health & Environment Editor
BISMARCK, N.D. – The unexpected hospitalization of a judge postponed the June 25 federal court sentencing of Oglala Lakota water protector Red Fawn Fallis here until July 11, when she is now set to face a ruling in a weapons discharge incident at the front lines of conflict over the Dakota Access Pipeline construction.
Red Fawn remains in North Dakota’s Burleigh-Morton County Detention Center during the leadup to her new court date. Supporters in her hometown of Denver held a community pot-luck dinner ceremony there to boost her spirits and family members attended another gathering in Bismarck where they travelled only to learn of the delay last-minute.
From the detention center she responded with a social media message: “I would like to thank everyone for all the love and prayers, all the strength and support pouring in from all four directions on Unci Maka. I feel each of you. I can feel the goodness and protection with my heart and in my spirit,” she wrote.
Prosecutors are likely to request that U.S. District Chief Judge Daniel Hovland hand down a seven-year prison sentence, in exchange for her January agreement to a non-cooperating plea bargain on charges of “Civil Disorder” and “Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon”.
The maximum allowable sentence is 10 years. No minimum is prescribed.
The legal road to the case’s outcome began with Red Fawn’s arrest on Oct. 27, 2016, during a seven-month stand-off between militarized police and participants of independent camps established on the Missouri River banks near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
The camps provided a base for people to hold vigils and demonstrate solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit opposing private oil-pipeline construction through unceded 1851 Ft. Laramie Treaty territory, through sacred sites, and just upstream of the tribal drinking water intake from the river.
In a scuffle during police arrests of more than 100 pipeline opponents that day, two male law enforcement officers forced the 5-foot-3 camper to the ground, cuffed her, and picked up a nearby handgun that had fired three times, according to court records in the felony case.
The resulting accusations converted Red Fawn into one of five self-proclaimed water protectors facing federal criminal charges for resisting the pipeline, or as they put it, for “defending the sacred” with the Lakota slogan “Mni Wiconi” made world-famous during the DAPL debacle.
All five are tribally affiliated. The others are Michael Giron (Little Feather), Dion Ortiz, Michael “Rattler” Markus, and James “Angry Bird” White. No non-Indians face federal charges.
More people from far and wide also await processing in the North Dakota state court system, as defense counsellors observe an unfolding joint corporate-government strategy to criminalize Dakota Access Pipeline dissidents continuing nearly two years after their first arrests.
As of June 19, 165 cases remain to be concluded out of the original 835 North Dakota state criminal lawsuits related to the “No DAPL” movement, according to the Mandan, North Dakota-based Water Protector Legal Collective defense team.
Prosecutors originally charged Red Fawn with “Discharge of a Firearm in Relation to a Felony Crime of Violence” but after evidence cast doubt on the claim, which carries a potential life-term prison sentence, her attorneys arranged for the plea bargain.
The evidence showed that a paid FBI informant became her boyfriend in the camp setting, and it was his gun that fired, albeit hitting no one at the scene of the arrests.
(Contact Talli Nauman at email@example.com)