Dakota Access Pipeline protest leader charged with inciting a riot, 74 arrested

Dakota Access Pipeline protester Chase Iron Eyes was arrested this week and has been charged with inciting a riot, which is a felony. Iron Eyes allegedly led a group of several dozen protesters who set up a new camp on higher ground, out of the flood plain where the current camp sits. The only problem: The property the new camp was set up on is owned by the developer of the Dakota Access Pipeline. From the Associated Press:

Chase Iron Eyes could face up to five years in prison if convicted on the felony charge. He also faces a misdemeanor count of criminal trespass.

Iron Eyes and the others were arrested Wednesday after setting up teepees on land that authorities say is owned by the pipeline developer. Protesters say they were peacefully assembling on land they believe rightfully belongs to American Indians.

The statement Iron Eyes gave after he was released from jail is below. He says both he and another protester, Vanessa Castle, were charged with inciting a riot and that everyone else who was arrested has been charged with criminal trespass and engaging in a riot. Iron Eyes goes on to say that while the media is trying to portray the protesters at the camp as violent, “it’s clear to America that Donald Trump is inciting a riot.”

It might be helpful to the protesters if Iron Eyes were the spokesman for the Standing Rock Sioux and could be portrayed as a victim here. But in fact, the actual spokesman for the tribe, Dave Archambault, published a statement on the tribe’s Facebook page Wednesday which was very critical of Iron Eyes, albeit without mentioning him by name. It reads in part:

Last night, a group of campers moved materials onto private land. This group’s actions do not represent the tribe nor the original intent of the water protectors. If we are to fight for treaty rights, then we must all work together. Tribes came to Standing Rock in support of our tribe’s effort with the recognition that it will reflect back on us all. This type of action was not undertaken in that spirit, because instead of empowering us, it undermines us…

Yesterday, some took advantage of the impending easement and used it as a call back to camp. Please, once again, we ask that people do not return to camp. The fight is no longer here, but in the halls and courts of the federal government. Here at the camp, those who remain should be working together to help clean and restore the land.

If you’re wondering, it was Chase Iron Eyes who called people back to camp this week despite a recent vote by the tribal council asking all of the remaining protesters to vacate the land before floods wash them and all their voluminous garbage into the river.

Chase Iron Eyes has already said he’s not going to leave. In fact, in a video I highlighted in December, he said protesters should be willing to lose their lives if necessary before giving up. Sooner or later, he and the remaining protesters are going to have to be forcibly removed. The decision to set up a new camp on private property has provided law enforcement with a good reason to put an end to this.

This drone video shot by protesters appears to show the teepee camp set up on higher ground after police moved in to clear it out:


Here’s the statement by Chase Iron Eyes after he was released from jail: