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Standing Rock protestor sentenced while Trump pardons armed militia members

Red Fawn Fallis Sentenced to 57 months in DAPL case


Reprinted with permission from Indian Country Media

Red Fawn Fallis was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison Wednesday for possession of a firearm and civil disorder during the Dakota Access pipeline protests. She is now the second water protector sentenced in relation to the DAPL pipeline resistance at Standing Rock.

Regarding Fallis’ two charges - Civil Disorder and Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon - Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of no more than seven years in prison; Judge Daniel L. Hovland had the authority to go as high as 10 years.

Hovland sentenced Red Fawn Fallis to 18 months on the Civil Disorder charge and to a concurrent term of 57 months on the Possession charge, with three years of federal supervision to follow, and a $100 assessment fine for each charge.

Red Fawn has been incarcerated since October 26, 2016, as well as having spent time at a halfway house. She will receive credit for time served when she was incarcerated but not for her time at the halfway house due to a violation. The judge recommended that she be remanded to a federal prison in Phoenix or Tucson where she would not be isolated from other Native American women. She could be released from prison as early as July 2020 with an additional six months spent in a halfway house.

“The sentence imposed today reflects the judge’s recognition of her case as unique and complicated by a lot of factors. He listened to the testimony in court, read the transcripts of prior hearings and read the legal memoranda filed by the parties,” said Red Fawn’s attorney Bruce Ellison in a release.

“The sentence landed in between what we recommended and what the government urged. In a sensitive matter like this the judge has pretty much unlimited discretion and seemed to try and figure out what in his mind made sense,” he said. “It could certainly have been much worse. The FBI will never be held accountable for abusing this woman by sending a person in to gain access to the camp, feigning a romantic interest, manipulating her family into thinking it was real at the same time telling the people that they should feel afraid of corporate security. But they were the ones bringing in the guns.”

Red Fawn’s uncle Glenn T. Morris, who is a professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado at Denver said in the release:

“Justice was not done today. If justice had been done the real criminals - DAPL, Tiger Swan, the FBI and Morton County Sheriff’s Department - would be the ones going to jail for invading our prayer camp and hurting our niece, sister and Auntie Red Fawn. We, her family, friends and supporters, are the ones who will bring justice to Red Fawn by supporting her and being with her every day, week and month of her incarceration, no matter where it is. We are the ones who will be restoring her, and she will restore us when we welcome her back to our family and community in Denver on the day of her release.”

Red Fawn Fallis is Oglala Lakota Sioux, and was raised in Pine Ridge, South Dakota and Colorado.

According to the Water Protector Legal Collective, “During the Standing Rock encampments, Red Dawn was well-known and respected for her work with youth and as a medic, as well as for her deep commitment to her people and to protecting the water. During the hearing today two expert witnesses provided testimony on the physiology of what is known in firearms training as “unintended discharge of a firearm” and on the psychology and impact of childhood trauma and intergenerational/historical trauma; two family members spoke passionately about how valued and missed Red Fawn is by her family and community, her personal growth in the 20 months since her arrest, and the educational and employment opportunities that her community is committed to help provide upon her release.”

“Water Protector Legal Collective stands by Red Fawn and we call on Water Protectors and community members to continue to support her through this difficult time. Please follow her Support Committee website for information on how to write to her and be in solidarity with her as she serves her prison time.”

Trump Pardons the Hammonds

President Donald Trump granted two pardons to two ranchers; Dwight and Steven Hammond, who were convicted in 2012 of intentionally and maliciously setting fires on public lands. The Hammonds had been serving five-year terms in federal prison until pardoned on Tuesday.

It was the original sentencing of the Hammonds that sparked a protest from Ammon Bundy and dozens of others, who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near the Hammond ranch in southeastern Oregon from January to mid-February 2016.

Complaining the Hammonds were victims of federal overreach, that standoff ended after police killed one of the leaders and arrested the Bundys and their followers. US prosecutors subsequently charged the Bundy family and dozens of other men with conspiracy and other charges for both the Nevada and Oregon cases.

In January 2018, a judge dismissed conspiracy charges against rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons, marking an extraordinary failure by US prosecutors and a decisive victory for the Nevada family who ignited a land rights movement in the American west and critics at the time feared, and ultimately did, embolden far-right militia groups.

Critics of Trump say the president could be ignoring valid claims for clemency as he works outside the typical pardon process, focusing on cases brought to his attention by his friends, famous people and conservative media pundits.

Bruce Ellison, who served as legal counsel for Red Dawn Fallis says there is an unjust sentiment that President Trump has demonstrated by the pardon of ranchers who incited the occupation of federal property and lands.

“The fact that he (President Trump) was saying there seem to be legitimate issues that these folks were raising, and that he was going to pardon them? I think what is disturbing is that the only concern that Trump seems to have in regard to a presidential pardon has to do with only people who are ideologically like-minded.”

“One can only imagine what would happen if a group of Native people today were to take over a federal government building, and held arms and started fires,” said Ellison.

Ellison said that with over 100 active water protector cases, the President could show true resolve if he pardoned the water protectors.

“If Trump really was a person concerned about such issues, he would exonerate the water protectors. All of them.”

Editor’s Note

Enbridge owns a 28% interest in the Bakken pipeline system, which includes the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Given local context: Enbridge announced early this year that eleven First Nation communities will receive new services as part of the Enbridge Natural Gas Grant. This grant was launched in January 2017. Akwesasne was identified as one of the eleven communities, with Kawehno:ke being granted $3,447,000. The project involves the construction of a natural gas transfer station and distribution network to connect homes and businesses.


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