Federal prosecutors will put Red Fawn Fallis on trial Jan. 29 in Fargo, North Dakota, seeking to victimize her for being among the thousands who poured into the state in 2016 to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the sovereign land of the Standing Rock Sioux. The construction threatened to disrupt ground sacred to the tribe and to pollute the tribe’s main source of water.
Protests grew to involve members of more than 300 Native American tribes and 3,000 to 4,000 supporters. They set up encampments on or near tribal treaty land out of which they organized their battle to halt the pipeline.
As the fight grew, North Dakota authorities got reinforcement from state troopers and cops from at least 76 local, county and state law enforcement agencies from 10 states.
On Oct. 27, 2016, hundreds of cops used pepper spray, rubber bullets, bean bag projectiles, Tasers and smoke grenades in an attempt to forcibly remove protesters from a camp set up directly in the path of the construction.
Fallis, who was volunteering as a medic, was one of 141 people arrested that day. Cops obviously knew who she was and targeted Fallis, throwing her to the ground. Cops and federal prosecutors claim that while they were piling on top of her, putting her in handcuffs, she somehow got a gun and fired three shots at police, none of which hit anything.
The state of North Dakota charged her with attempted murder, but dismissed it when the U.S. government filed federal charges of Civil Disorder, Discharge of a Firearm in Relation to a Felony Crime of Violence, and Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition by a Convicted Felon. Jailed without bond for a year, Fallis is currently confined to a halfway house preparing for her trial. She is the first of seven protesters facing federal charges to go to trial, and could be sentenced to 10 years to life in prison.
More than 300 Standing Rock protesters await trial on state criminal charges.
Fallis appeared in Federal District Court in Bismarck, North Dakota, Dec. 8 and 11. Her attorneys argued that she was targeted, tackled and arrested solely because of her participation in a legal political protest against the pipeline and its interference with the sovereign rights of the Standing Rock Sioux.
But Judge Daniel Hovland ruled that he would not permit any mention at trial about U.S.-Native American treaty agreements or protests against the pipeline.
He also denied a defense motion for a postponement to pursue more discovery against the government, including on information it got from undercover informers about the protests and Fallis in particular. Hovland denied this motion, saying, “The reality is that the heart of this case rests upon less than five minutes of chaotic activity,” meaning he intends to limit the case to the gunshots the prosecution claims Fallis fired.
A solidarity benefit has been organized for Jan. 20 in Denver to raise funds for Fallis’ legal defense and to make it possible for her family to be with her during the trial.
“She grew up here, where she is known and respected as an American Indian Movement member and a member of an Oglala Lakota activist family from way back,” Nancy Peters, a member of the Red Fawn Fallis Legal Support Team and one of the organizers of the event, told the Militant. “She could be facing life in prison if the government succeeds in getting a jury to believe its lies.”
To contribute toward Fallis’ legal defense, go to https://www.generosity.com/fundraising/red-fawn-legal-fund. You can send your support directly to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or Residential Transition Re-entry Center, 3501 Westrac Dr., Fargo, ND 58103. Attn: Red Fawn Fallis.