There was a lot of news on the Dakota Access Pipeline front yesterday, from reports about the literal mountains of garbage the supposed environmentalists left behind to news that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be issuing that final easement for the project (that’s supposed to happen some time today). But something which might have flown under your radar was federal Judge Daniel Hovland giving #NoDAPL yet another legal loss.
At issue was that civil rights lawsuit the anti-pipeline activists filed back in November against North Dakota law enforcement agencies, arguing that they had used excessive force in reacting to the unlawful and violent #NoDAPL demonstrations.
The plaintiffs had asked the judge to enjoin law enforcement from using “excessive force” such as pepper spray and flash bangs, but that motion was rejected with Judge Hovland saying the plaintiffs were unlikely to succeed in their overall suit.
Hovland said protesters “are unlikely to succeed on the merits of their claims,” which include that police used inappropriate force, injuring more than 200 protesters, and violated their civil rights. The judge said protesters were trespassing during the confrontation and that “no reasonable juror could conclude” that officers acted unreasonably.
“The rights of free speech and assembly do not mean, and have never meant, that everyone who chooses to protest against the Dakota Access pipeline may do so at any time, any place, and under any set of conditions they choose in total disregard of the law,” Hovland said. “To allow that to occur would result in anarchy and an end to the rule of law in civilized society.”
In response, the lawyers for the political extremists accused the judge of not being informed. Not surprisingly, since lawfare is a tactic the left uses to bully their way to the political outcomes they want, they’re appealing:
Rachel Lederman, lead attorney for the protesters, called Hovland’s ruling “disturbing” and said she’ll appeal.
“The judge indicates that he’s formed opinions based on television and newspapers and pretty much disregards the large volume of evidence that the plaintiffs have presented,” she said.
The judge wrote in his ruling that it is “undisputed that protesters were yelling profanities and throwing and slinging large rocks, lug nuts, padlocks, frozen water bottles, and other objects at law enforcement officers.” That’s certainly what one front-line officer who worked the protest (the guy who was running that infamous water hose on the Backwater Bridge) told me during an interview.
“There were rocks, chunks of asphalt,” he told me. “I know I was hit at least twelve times. There was a gallon jug of water that hit me and fell down into the vehicle and hit another officer in the back of the head that was inside the MRAP.”
“We know there were slingshots. I saw nuts on top of the MRAP,” he continued explaining that the “nuts” in question are the metal kind you use with bolts. “I could hear them whizzing by my head.”
I don’t think any reasonable person wants law enforcement to use tactics like pepper spray or flash bangs against American citizens, but what are they supposed to do when faced with a violent mob bent on committing serious criminal acts? The #NoDAPL movement torched millions of dollars worth of construction equipment and repeatedly set up camp in the middle of public roads, or on private land, forcing law enforcement to engage them and remove them. A dangerous situation given that a very large faction of these protesters resisted such efforts with violence.
There was nothing excessive about law enforcement’s response to #NoDAPL.