Standing Rock Sets Aside Money for Lawsuit Against Cops Over Response to #NoDAPL Protests


Police block the highway from protesters next to the pipeline route during a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in St. Anthony, North Dakota, U.S. November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

Over the weekend hundreds rallied at the state capitol in support of the cops who have responded to the #NoDAPL protests in south central North Dakota. The cops have been drug through the mud by protesters and certain members of the media willing to credulously regurgitate their often wild and baseless claims. But at the rally North Dakotans, as well as some of the state’s top political leaders, backed the cops.

“They’re working to protect all of us, not just the farmers and the ranchers and the small town people that live in the area of the protest,” said Senator John Hoeven, who spoke at the rally along with Congressman Kevin Cramer and Lieutenant Gov. Drew Wrigley. “They’re protecting the protesters, too. They’re protecting the very right to protest.”

But the protesters don’t see it that way.

Last month David Archambault, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said he may pursue a class action lawsuit against law enforcement over their response to the often unlawful, often violent #NoDAPL protests.

It appears, based on minutes from a November 1 meeting of Standing Rock’s tribal council, that they are in fact planning just that sort of legal action.

You can read the minutes in full below. Among other things, they describe the tribal council approving collaboration with the Oneida Tribe (originally from New York but moved to Wisconsin) to raise funds for litigation over alleged civil rights abuses:


The council also approved setting aside $200,000 in funds for a class action lawsuit:


In what is perhaps a related development, the tribal council also approved a monthly retainer fee for the law firm which employs David Archambault’s sister Jodi Gillette.


Last month the National Sheriff’s Association, one of the group’s helping to coordinate assistance for North Dakota law enforcement from other states, wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch alleging that Gillette had been using her influence with the Obama administration to block federal assistance to keep law and order amid the protests.

Gillette worked for the Obama campaign here in North Dakota in 2008, generating what has been described as “record turnout” in Indian country for the president. Gillette said her position in the Obama administration after the campaign was invented for her by the president.

“My role is completely the invention of this President,” she said in 2014. “My role really is to advise the President and the senior staff on Native American needs, issues, and challenges. That is something that had never existed before.”

Gillette left the Obama administration in 2015 to take a job with the Sonosky law firm which the tribe is now retaining apparently in advance of their legal actions against law enforcement.

Notably, the tribe also at this meeting approved a conflict waiver for the North Dakota-based Vogel Law Firm, clearing the way for that organization to represent the tribe as well.

Here are the full minutes:

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