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 or
Brenda Brink, Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition, 515-203-9389, brendarbrink@gmail.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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Texas Pipeline Worker Sent Home

Dear Friends,

ed-and-jane-on-covers-full-sizeFirst, a reminder about our exciting event this Sunday with Jane Kleeb and Josh Fox. We’ll watch Fox’s new film on climate, and Jane will update us on the battle to stop the pipeline. We’ll enjoy music from Josh and some of our Native allies and remarks from Adam Mason with Iowa CCI. Cyd’s Catering is bringing some wonderful snacks made from Iowa-grown food. Oh, and I’ll emcee, assuring that no other theater in America this weekend will feature a state’s “Number One Hellraiser” and another state’s “Most Controversial Woman.” Really, you don’t want to miss this. Details here.

Shirley Gerjets and her unwelcome guests: A large security force and an even larger pipeline.

Shirley Gerjets and her unwelcome guests: A large security force and an even larger pipeline.

What else don’t you want to miss?  #FarmersDefenseCamp! This week, we set up an encampment on land owned by Shirley Gerjets, a farmer who has fought the pipeline every step of the way. While the camp itself can accommodate about twenty overnight campers (let us know if you’re interested), we hope hundreds turn out for the actions, especially this coming Saturday. Deatils here.

If you ever feel that our efforts are in vain, well here’s proof that they’re not. Kudos to Marisa Cummings and her daughter for standing strong and speaking out against injustice. And thank you to Calhoun County Sheriff Bill Davis for pushing Dakota Access to do the right thing, and for pipeline fighter Heather Pearson for doing such a great job at being our liaison with local law enforcement. Here’s the press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 26, 2016

Contact:
Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa: 515-238-6404ed@boldiowa.org
Marisa Cummings, 319-621-6608mail4marisa@gmail.com

Dakota Access Employee Who Made Sexual Solicitation of Water Protector and Daughter is Fired, Sent Back to Texas
Dakota Access worker heard asking, “How much for the little girl?” out of his pickup trick window during Bold Iowa direct action on Oct. 15

Des Moines — The Dakota Access employee who made a sexual solicitation of a peaceful female Water Protector and her daughter during Bold Iowa’s nonviolent direct action on Oct. 15 has been terminated and sent back to Texas, Bold Iowa has learned.

The Dakota Access employee was driving a silver Ford pickup truck with Texas license plates when he shouted at the woman and her daughter, “How much for the little girl?”

Calhoun County sheriff William Davis reports that the employee, whose identity was not disclosed, has been identified by Dakota Access, and terminated from his position with the company as a result of the disgusting incident.

“When one asks to purchase a woman of color near a pipeline site, you evoke a feeling of threat and intimidation,” said Marisa Cummings, who along with her daughter was the target of the solicitation by the Dakota Access employee on Oct. 15. “Native American women are found missing and murdered throughout the oil fields of America and Canada. We are more likely to be raped by a non-Native male than any other racial group. Human trafficking and rape is a reality for our women. We want the man who attempted to intimidate and harass us held accountable for his actions.  I am disappointed that local law enforcement did not allow us to file charges.  I will not pat the Dakota Access Pipeline workers on the back for terminating the employee. The action against their employee was only taken after we went to the media and released our story and gained a public outcry for his actions.”

Video of the sexual solicitation by a Dakota Access employee of a woman and her daughter during Bold Iowa’s Oct. 15 action may be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/NowThisNews/videos/1197616650328457/

Bold Iowa sees this incident as indicative of what has already been documented at “mancamps” set up by pipeline companies to house construction and oilfield workers — increased violence, drugs, and human trafficking.

To date, more than 2,500 people have signed the Bakken Pipeline Pledge of Resistance, which is supported by Bold Iowa, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, CREDO Action, and 100 Grannies for a Livable Future.

View the Bakken Pipeline Pledge of Resistance here.

On Oct. 25, Bold Iowa set up an encampment in Calhoun County with farmer Shirley Gerjets, whose land was taken against her wishes via eminent domain by Dakota Access to build the pipeline.

(DETAILShttp://boldiowa.org/action/nodaplcamp)

On Aug. 31, 30 people were arrested during a Bakken Pledge of Resistance direct action to stop pipeline construction in Boone County.

On Sept. 10, 19 people were arrested at a Bakken Pledge direct action in Boone County.

On Sept. 22, more than 175 people participated in a “Midwest Mobilization” action that stopped construction on the pipeline in Boone County.

On Oct. 15, landowner Cyndy Coppola and Bold Iowa director Ed Fallon were arrested on Cyndy’s own property, which lies inside the pipeline route.

Bold Iowa Action Teams (BATs) have also participated in smaller, decentralized direct actions to stop construction on the pipeline at various locations over the past few weeks — including on Sept. 21 in Webster County, and at other sites in Boone County and near Farrar, in Polk County.

Between Bakken Pipeline Pledge of Resistance actions, and the nonviolent actions that have been organized by allies at the “Mississippi Stand” encampment in southeast Iowa, to date close to 170 arrests of Pipeline Fighters have been made in Iowa while standing up to stop Dakota Access.

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