NLG and ACLU Submit FOIA and Open Records Requests to Investigate Unconstitutional Surveillance of Water Protectors at Standing Rock

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Tasha Moro, NLG Communications Director, communications@nlg.org

NLG and ACLU Submit FOIA and Open Records Requests to Investigate Unconstitutional Surveillance of Water Protectors at Standing Rock

BISMARCK, N.D. - Today, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), in conjunction with the ACLU of North Dakota, sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and North Dakota Open Records Act requests to multiple state and federal agencies in response to the surveillance and arrests of the Native-led Water Protectors attempting to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). In an affront to First Amendment rights, Water Protectors and allies have been continuously surveilled by low-flying planes, helicopters, and drones, and have had local cell phone communications jammed and possibly recorded. Dozens of local and out-of-state law enforcement have been called in, maintaining a heavily militarized presence at the site in an effort to intimidate activists and chill dissent.

Water Protectors have come to expect surveillance and interference from law enforcement. Kandi Mossett, of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, and the Extreme Energy & Just Transition Campaign Coordinator with the Indigenous Environmental Network says: "My three-year-old daughter and I are beginning to get used to being awakened by the helicopter and airplane as they fly over camp in the morning. She says, ‘Momma look!’ all excited, as she is too innocent to understand they were sent to spy on us for protecting the water for her and generations to come.”

Despite remaining peaceful in their resistance, more than 140 people have been arrested at the protest site since beginning in August, with the Morton County Sherriff’s Department leveling trespassing and riot charges against Water Protectors and journalists. Earlier this week, finding no probable cause, a judge dropped the riot charge that had been brought against award-winning journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! for her September 3 coverage of the protests and the violent response by a private security firm hired by the DAPL company.

As civil liberties violations have continued to escalate over the last six weeks, the Indigenous-led resistance against the DAPL continues. More than 1,000 Water Protectors, allies, and supporters have descended on Standing Rock, constituting the largest gathering of Native American Nations in modern US history. The Red Owl Legal Collective of the NLG has been providing bond, Legal Observers, and legal support for arrestees.

The NLG and ACLU of North Dakota are requesting all surveillance information and communications regarding the DAPL protests from April 1 to the present from the following federal and local agencies:

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Department of Homeland Security
US Army Corps of Engineers
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Department of Justice
ND National Guard
ND Highway Patrol
Morton County Sheriff
Burleigh County Sheriff
Emmons County Sheriff
Cass County Sheriff
Fargo Police
Bismarck Police
Mandan Police
Fort Yates Police

With these open records requests, the NLG and the ACLU of North Dakota seek to promote transparency and challenge any violations of constitutional rights.

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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