A year ago, two anti-Dakota Access Pipeline activists held a press conference outside of the Iowa Utilities Board. Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya admitted to using oxyacetylene torches to sabotage pipeline valves in a campaign that started on election day of 2016. After they ran out of fuel for their torch, they resorted to arson, using gasoline to burn heavy equipment used in the construction of the pipeline. That damage alone was estimated to exceed $2.5 million.
“You may not agree with our tactics but you can clearly see the necessity of them in the light of the broken federal government and the corporations they continue to protect,” Montoya said. Her partner in crime Reznicek added, “Coming forward was really an empowering moment for us to share with others in the movement a diversity of tactics, tactics that we feel can be embraced by others.” The phrase “diversity of tactics,” in this case, means sabotage and arson.
The pair were arrested after the press conference for vandalizing a sign, but that remains the only act for which they have been charged. Today the Des Moines Register reports their case remains in limbo while the saboteurs have simply moved on with their lives:
Rachel Scherle, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Des Moines, declined to say last week why no criminal charges have been filed against either Reznicek or Montoya. But she indicated the matter hasn’t been dropped by federal authorities.
“I cannot comment on any ongoing investigation,” Scherle said…
Frank Cordaro, a Catholic Workers activist and former Catholic priest, told the Des Moines Register that the two women left Des Moines late last September.
He said they have “dropped out” to destinations that they are not disclosing.
“They have basically moved on with their lives. They don’t want anybody to know where they are, and they are not telling me,” Cordaro said.
He added that he has been in contact with Reznicek, who works as a day laborer, but not with Montoya. However, he believes both remain committed to social justice issues, particularly the protection of the environment and their fight against oil…
“It didn’t accomplish anything significant in terms of stopping the pipeline,” said [Ed] Fallon, a leader of protests against the Dakota Access project. “It alienated a lot of people who we need on our side. So while I respect and admire their passion, I don’t think it was a wise decision.”
Montoya and Reznicek obviously failed to stop the pipeline, but they still engaged in sabotage which cost the company that built it millions of dollars. Shouldn’t they be made to answer for that? Also, it seems like a bad idea to leave other extremists out there with the impression that this sort of sabotage will get a pass from law enforcement?
On the other hand, a trial would likely elevate the status of these two as martyrs, which might induce others to follow in their footsteps. Part of the point of the press conference last year seemed to be that Montoya and Reznicek felt their campaign hadn’t been covered extensively enough by the local media. They wanted more attention given to what they’d done, even if it meant (in theory) opening themselves to jail time.
Here’s the press conference from a year ago: