Activists confess to sabotaging, delaying the Dakota Access Pipeline

I missed this when it was announced roughly two weeks ago but it’s worth pointing out even now. Two activists confessed to multiple acts of sabotage against the Dakota Access Pipeline using cutting torches and other tools. The two women, who are part of an Iowa’s Catholic Worker social justice movement, made the announcement before a small group of journalists and then started prying letters off a sign for the Iowa Utilities Board, which got them arrested. From the Des Moines Register:

Jessica Reznicek, 35, and Ruby Montoya, 27, both of Des Moines, held a news conference Monday outside the Iowa Utilities Board’s offices where they provided a detailed description of their deliberate efforts to stop the pipeline’s completion…

The two women said they researched how to pierce the steel pipe used for the pipeline and in March they began using oxyacetylene cutting torches to damage exposed, empty pipeline valves. They said they started deliberately vandalizing the pipeline in southeast Iowa’s Mahaska County, delaying completion for weeks.

Reznicek and Montoya said they subsequently used torches to cause damage up and down the pipeline throughout Iowa and into part of South Dakota, moving from valve to valve until running out of supplies. They said their actions were rarely reported in the media…

The two women said they later returned to arson as a tactic, using tires and gasoline soaked rags to burn multiple valve sites and electric units, as well as heavy equipment located on pipeline easements throughout Iowa.

In March, I wrote about two local new reports of sabotage which involved using a torch to cut holes in the above-ground shut-off valves. And in May I noted an arson incident which did an estimated $150,000 in damage to pipeline equipment. It sounds as if there were many more incidents of vandalism which were not reported by the local news.

As for why they did it, the two activists wanted to stop the pipeline for all of the usual reasons: protecting the water supply, climate change, the future of the planet. They admitted to their crimes, they say, because they wanted to inspire others to follow in their footsteps. From America Magazine:

“We chose to take these actions after seeing the continued desecration of the Earth, which we are to be stewards of,” Ms. Montoya told America…

“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,” Ms. Reznicek said.

Both women have been active in other protest movements, including Occupy Wall Street and anti-war activism in the Middle East. They both said their activism is informed by their faith—albeit in slightly different ways.

The Sierra Club of Iowa claimed it had no knowledge of the arson and sabotage efforts. At least one Catholic activist, a former priest named Frank Cordaro, praised the pair’s courage.

Here’s a video of their joint announcement of responsibility. The editing of this clip is a bit distracting at times but the audio of their statement is more complete than some other clips available. Ruby Montoya says, “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.” Jessica Reznicek adds, “We did not anticipate a fair trial but do expect our loved ones to undergo harassment from the federal government and the corporations they protect.” She continued, “It is unfortunate that we have to prepare for such things but this is the government that rules, which continues to look more and more like a Nazi, fascist Germany as each day passes.”

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