Pipeline Fighter to File Appeal

Dear Friends,

Heather Pearson

Late yesterday afternoon, Heather Pearson was found guilty of trespass for her brave stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline last fall. Among the many hats she wears, Heather is Bold Iowa’s Director of Rabble Rousing and is never shy about leading songs or chants during rallies and marches.

Yesterday, seated with her attorney, Channing Dutton, in a courtroom in Rockwell City, Heather comported herself with dignity and clarity on the witness stand and talking with reporters after the verdict was read.

Here’s the press release sent out this morning by Bold Iowa and the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition. Please share it with others, and let folks know that this pipeline fight is not over. Heather plans to appeal yesterday’s ruling, and three other pipeline fighters have cases coming up, all in Calhoun County. They are Kriss Wells, Emma Schmidt and Mahmud Fitil.

Press Conference at Heather’s trial

Over the lunch hour, a brief press conference was held in front of the Freedom Rock on the north side of the Courthouse. Click here to view video. Reporters from three local and regional papers — The Fort Dodge Messenger, The Storm Lake Times and The Calhoun County Graphic-Advocate — were at the trial for its entirety. Click here to read The Messenger article, and we’ll post the others as they’re available.

In terms of our options for justice, there’s also the lawsuit involving nine landowners and the Iowa Sierra Club, now before the Iowa Supreme Court. More on that soon.

So to those who say, “This fight is over,” today’s trial is more evidence that it’s not even close. – Ed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

8:00 a.m. CT, July 7, 2017
Contact: Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa, 515-238-6404, ed@fallonforum.com

Iowa Pipeline Fighter Found Guilty, Will File Appeal 
Ruling in Heather Pearson’s trial ignores justification defense

Rockwell City, IA — Heather Pearson, a resident of Logan, Iowa and a Dakota Access pipeline opponent who was arrested on October 29, 2016 during nonviolent direct action to stop construction of the Dakota Access pipeline on Shirley Gerjets’ property in Calhoun County, was found “guilty” yesterday in a jury trial. Gerjets, age 82 and a life-long farmer, remains an outspoken critic of the pipeline, which crosses her land and includes a valve station that permanently removes farm ground from production.

Channing Dutton

“The result today is difficult to understand,” said Channing Dutton, Pearson’s attorney. “We had a great client and an excellent judge. There is no way the prosecution proved its case. This is the power of a big corporation using local law enforcement to arrest good people whose only crime is their commitment to protect our climate future and stand up for landowner rights. We’ll soldier on. There will be another day.”

Pearson plans to appeal the decision. On the stand, Pearson stated, “Why should we have to put our air, our water, our land, and our climate at risk so some private company can get rich running oil through our farmland. They’re not only stealing our land, they’re putting everything we need to survive at risk.”

Shirley Gerjets

Landowner and farmer Shirley Gerjets took the stand and told how she did everything she could to stop Dakota Access from taking her land. “I kicked those Dakota Access surveyors off my land I don’t know how many times. It was sickening the day it started. Their pickups drove through my corn, then they chopped it all down, and then the bulldozers came and messed up the topsoil. This fight has cost me lots of money and many, many sleepless nights. An agronomist told me we’d never get the land back to the way it was. As far as I’m concerned, it’s this pipeline that’s trespassing, not Heather.”

Brenda Brink

“This court case illustrated how Iowans continue to stand together against an out-of-state corporate oil pipeline that risks our livelihoods, property rights, health and water,” said Brenda Brink of the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition. “Another thing that’s become clear in this trial is how the pipeline company expected local law enforcement to do whatever it wanted, regardless of the costs or other needs of the community.”

“We’re deeply disappointed in the jury’s decision,” said Bold Iowa director, Ed Fallon. “Jurors got stuck on the side issue of trespass, ignoring the justification for Heather’s action. This pipeline impacts Iowa farmers, landowners and all people concerned about our land, water and climate. When our politicians fail us, as they have, civil resistance is the historically appropriate response.”

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Pipeline Trial Sets Precedent

Dear Friends,

The trial for pipeline-fighter Kriss Wells just wrapped up this afternoon. Kriss (pictured below) is a long-time resident of the Quad Cities and a retired social worker. Despite a strong presentation that focused on the climate justifcation for his nonviolent direct action, Kriss received a verdict of “guilty” in a jury trial today at the Boone County Courthouse. He was one of thirty pipeline opponents charged with trespass on August 31, 2016 while blocking vehicles from leaving or entering a staging area along Highway 30 east of Boone, and the only one of the group to plead “not guilty” and to request a jury trial.

Here’s the press release sent out earlier this afternoon as a cooperative effort between the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition and Bold Iowa. Please share and let’s get the word out! Thanks, and read on below the release for information about the Fallon Forum. – Ed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 7, 2017
Contact:
Kriss Wells: 563-343-3295, kriss444@aol.com
Carolyn Raffensperger: 515-450-2320, raffensperger@cs.com
Ed Fallon: 515-238-6404, ed@fallonforum.com

Pipeline opponent “guilty,” but trial sets precedent for justification defense

Boone, Iowa — Kriss Wells (pictured below), a long-time resident of the Quad Cities and a retired social worker, received a verdict of “guilty” in a jury trial today at the Boone County Courthouse. Wells was one of thirty pipeline opponents charged with trespass on August 31, 2016 while blocking vehicles from leaving or entering a staging area along Highway 30 east of Boone. Wells was the only one of the group to plead “not guilty” and to request a jury trial. The August 31 action was organized by Bold Iowa and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and drew over 100 participants.

“I’m certainly disappointed in the jury’s decision,” said Wells. “Court rulings have been all over the board in this pipeline fight, and I hope for a different outcome with my trial in Calhoun County on June 28. I did this in part for my grandkids and their future, and I’ll continue to speak out and take action.”

The plaintiffs see this case as setting a new precedent in Iowa. The defense explained its justification for trespassing by raising concerns about the urgency to address climate change, water quality and the misuse of eminent domain.

“Today climate change was on trial,” said Carolyn Raffensperger with the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition. “Kriss Wells was justified in challenging the Iowa Utilities Board’s permit allowing Dakota Access to build this crude oil pipeline, which will do irreparable harm to our climate and planet.”

“That action last summer marked a key point in the escalation of opposition to the pipeline,” said Ed Fallon, director of Bold Iowa. “It garnered national attention to our struggle. Kriss’ act of nonviolent civil disobedience and his decision to take his arrest to trial are statements of commitment and courage that continue to inspire others.”

Despite the oil beginning to flow last week, efforts to resist the pipeline continue, with a rally planned this Saturday in Des Moines, a flotilla on the Des Moines River in Boone County on June 17, and a protest against the Iowa Utilities Board on July 1.

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Climate Emergency justification in Pearson’s trial

Dear Friends,

Here’s the release Bold Iowa sent out on Friday about this Wednesday’s press conference, organized jointly with the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition. Heather Pearson’s jury trial for her arrest last fall as part of Bold Iowa’s “Farmers Defense Camp” is significant. Read the details below, and join us on Wednesday in Rockwell City for the trial and press conference.

Heather Pearson

Please share this release with your local news outlets and circulate it through your online networks. And since a Judge sometimes postpones a trial with short notice, check this Facebook Page on Tuesday to make sure the Wednesday trial and press conference are still on.

Heather’s trial has the potential to impact pipeline fights, eminent domain law and climate change in a big way. Let’s support her and the other fighters who have taken brave stands against this unprecedented attack on our land, water and property rights!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 19, 2017

Contact:
Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa: 515-238-6404ed@boldiowa.org
Jessica Fears, Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition, 515-450-9627fearsj@gmail.com

Iowa Woman Arrested Stopping Dakota Access Construction on Iowa Landowner’s Property Taken by Eminent Domain to Plead “Not Guilty,” Citing “Climate Emergency” Justification for Trespassing

Bold Iowa’s “Farmer Defense Camp” was established with permission on eminent domain holdout landowner Shirley Gerjets’ property, a first of its kind in Dakota Access pipeline fight

Rockwell City, IA — Heather Pearson, a resident of Logan, Iowa and Water Protector who was arrested in October 2016 during a nonviolent direct action to stop construction on the Dakota Access pipeline on Iowa farmer Shirley Gerjets’ property, will plead “not guilty” to charges of trespassing in Calhoun County court on May 24.

Pearson will argue in court that a “climate emergency,” outlined in a document signed by 188 Iowa climate science faculty from 39 institutions from all over the state, justified her action to stop construction on the pipeline that is abusing eminent domain for private gain and threatening our land, water and climate.

• WHAT: Trial of Dakota Access Direct Action Participant Pleading “Not Guilty”
• WHERE: Calhoun County Courthouse, 400 Main St., Rockwell City, IA
• WHEN: Wednesday, May 24
◦ 9:00 a.m: Trial start time
◦ 12:00 p.m. / lunch break: Press conference (Note: If the trial ends before noon, participants will also be immediately available for comment.)

(Check out the video of the action where Heather was arrested, and scroll down on that page to view the “Climate Emergency” document and affidavit signinghttp://boldiowa.org/2016/11/07/climateemergency)

Under Iowa state law, “justification” is a valid defense to charges of trespassing.

All of the Water Protectors arrested on Oct. 29 were invited on Shirley Gerjets’ property with express permission, in the form of a written affidavit from Shirley. In addition to Pearson, two other Water Protectors intend to plead “not guilty” to trespassing charges stemming from the Oct. 29 action and have pending court dates in Calhoun County (Emma Stewart, of Rockwell City, IA and Mahmud Fitil, of Omaha, NE).

Meanwhile, the Dakota Access pipeline workers and private security personnel were on Shirley’s property only by power of eminent domain, which Shirley strongly opposed. Shirley also had “No Trespassing” signs posted on her property that expressly forbade Dakota Access on her land.

The court will be tasked with determining who is the victim of “trespassing,” when a landowner is actively challenging eminent domain authority granted for a pipeline easement, and yet her expressly invited guests are arrested and charged with “trespassing” on the same land where eminent domain authority is still under judicial review.

Several of those who were arrested appeared to have been physically detained not by Iowa State Patrol, Calhoun County sheriff’s deputies, or other law enforcement, but rather by men wearing yellow jackets believed to be private security hired by Dakota Access Pipeline.

Were these private security “deputized” by Calhoun County law enforcement, the state of Iowa, or some other authority to detain citizens? The court must determine on what authority these security personnel were acting, and whether their actions constituted false imprisonment.

“In Iowa, eminent domain has always been intended strictly for public purposes,” said Bold Iowa director Ed Fallon. “And in 2006, during my last session as a state lawmaker, House and Senate members voted overwhelmingly to further strengthen eminent domain law in response to the ‘Kelo’ U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Given that amended law, this lawsuit makes a powerful case that Dakota Access violated the law. Those of us invited onto the land by the property owner had every right to be there.”

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Native Nations Rise!

Dear Friends,

The sad news is that oil may soon flow through the Dakota Access pipeline. But there are several silver linings in that dark, oil-soaked cloud.

First, the lawsuit filed by Iowa landowners against the abuse of eminent domain is on its way to the Iowa Supreme Court. In a recent Radio Iowa story, the attorney for the plaintiffs, Bill Hanigan, said “if eminent domain was improper, then all of the condemnation easements are invalid. If the condemnation easements are invalid, then that pipeline and all of the crude oil in it is trespassing.”

And what is the legal remedy to someone or something trespassing on your property? Removal! If the court rules in favor of the landowners, Dakota Access should be required to tear out all that pipeline and find an alternative route. It’s important to support these brave landowners, so stay tuned for more on that.

The other silver lining is that President Trump is indeed making America great again. It is so uplifing to see how many new people are getting involved in the fight to defend justice and our environment against the full-frontal assault led by Pres. Trump and the corporate crocodiles he’s let into the swamp he promised to drain.

One example? The great work being done by Kelly Quinn, Jenny Miller, Shelley Buffalo and others with the Meskwaki Nation. They’ve organized the RISE WITH STANDING ROCK NATIVE NATIONS RALLY – IOWA this Friday at 12:00 noon at the Iowa State Capitol. Please come support them — and deepen your own commitment to push back against state and federal actions whose real motive is to turn over more and more of our rights and tax dollars to the corporate oligarchy that has bought and paid for too many politicians.

Here’s the press release Bold Iowa sent out today. The original release can be viewed here. Please share it!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
12:00 p,m, CT, Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Contact: Kelly Quinn, krb.quinn@gmail.com or (515) 657-0179
Contact: Shelley Buffalo, buffaloshelley@gmail.com or (319) 333-2844
Contact: Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa Director, ed@boldiowa.org or (515) 238-6404

Meskwaki Women Organize “Rise With Standing Rock” Rally 
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe calls for solidarity as they march in Washington

Des Moines, IA — On Friday, March 10 at 12:00 noon, members of the Meskwaki Nation and their Iowa allies will rally on the west side of the Iowa State Capitol building in solidarity with the Native Nations Rise march and rally in Washington, DC at the same time.

“I stood with Standing Rock in the fight to protect water and I stand with all Native nations for their right to self-preservation and sovereignty,” said Kelly Quinn, a Meskwaki woman who lives in Ankeny. “What Standing Rock showed us is that tribal rights, agreements and treaties need to be honored by the US government. We support tribal autonomy, oppose any more oil and gas pipelines, and advocate for clean energy to save our water and planet.”

“All of creation is equal and the Earth is our mother,” said Shelley Buffalo, a Meskwaki woman who lives in Iowa City. “We practice gratitude for the Earth for providing us with all that we need. That’s why we are the protectors. That’s why we stand in solidarity with our Native brothers and sisters across the country and with all who have come together to defend our land and water.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other grassroots Indigenous organizers have called upon other tribes and all their allies to join them on March 10 in Washington, DC and in events across the country as they march, pray and take action. Participants will lobby Congress for Indigenous Nations’ rights to tribal sovereignty and to protect their homelands, the environment and future generations.

“The fight against the Dakota Access pipeline has ignited a historic alliance that is just beginning to exercise its political muscle and moral authority,” said Bold Iowa director, Ed Fallon. “Friday’s actions in DC, in Iowa and across the nation are another indication that our strength and influence as a powerful coalition of Native communities, farmers, landowners and environmentalists is growing deeper and more connected.”

Fallon will not be at the Iowa event as he is traveling to Washington, DC with members of Indigenous Iowa and Bold Iowa to participate in the march and rally there. Bold Iowa Program Coordinator, Shari Hrdina, will attend the Des Moines rally along with Lyssa Wade, who will speak on behalf of Bold and her work with landowners along the pipeline route.

In addition to Bold Iowa, organizations partnering with the Meskwaki women spearheading Friday’s Des Moines rally include Indigenous Iowa, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition and the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Bold Iowa is part of the Bold Alliance, building a coalition of small-and-mighty groups in rural states to fight Big Oil, protect landowners against the abuse of eminent domain, and work for clean energy solutions while empowering a political base of voters who care about the land and water.

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Stand With Landowners Against the Pipeline

Dear Friends,

For me, the week that Lyssa Wade and I spent at Standing Rock was a life-changing experience. If you missed any of my daily blog posts, you can read them here:

Day 1: Our Arrival
Day 2: Surviving the Blizzard
Day 3: Building Standing Rock
Day 4: Dakota Access’ Smiling Face
Day 5: Building Solar Barns
Day 6: Water is Life

(Lyssa wrote a daily blog as well, and you can read those here.)

The other life-changing experience for me during this pipeline fight came last year, when I walked the pipeline route in Iowa. It wasn’t the walk that was transformative, it was meeting so many amazing farmers, landowners and others rooted in this beautiful land we call home. To read those blogs and hear the stories of some of the people I met, click here and Next–> to scroll.

All across the country, men and women of good faith continue to stand with our Native allies at Standing Rock. We must also continue to stand with the farmers and landowners who have fought this pipeline for over two years, often at great personal expense of time and money.

Please join us on Thursday, December 15 for what is shaping up to be a big event. There is growing national interest, too. (Check out the interview I did with Ed Schultz.)

Here’s the detail:

WHAT: Stand in Court with Iowa Landowners vs. Dakota Access
WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 15, 8:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: Polk County Courthouse, Des Moines
HEARING: 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. (Come early!)
MARCH: 11:00 – 11:30 a.m. (led by tractors)
RALLY: 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at Cowles Commons

Click here to RSVP and to receive updates on #NoDAPL actions in Iowa: http://boldiowa.org/event/dec-15-stand-in-court-with-landowners-vs-dakota-access-eminent-domain.

I want to thank the organizations partnering with Bold Iowa on this important action, including the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter, Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition, and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

In addition to hearing from the attorney representing farmers and landowners, the court will also hear from the Sierra Club, Iowa Chapter. The Sierra Club has challenged the Iowa Utilities Board’s decision to issue a permit for Dakota Access to construct a hazardous liquid pipeline across Iowa. They cite concerns about the alleged necessity of the pipeline, potential impacts to the environment from oil spills and the impacts of climate change.

Needless to say, dress warm. Join us as we stand united to stop the Dakota Access pipeline that is trampling sovereign rights, abusing eminent domain for private gain, and threatening our land, water and climate.

Thanks!

Ed Fallon

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