Water Protectors Sentenced to Jail
For Immediate Release: October 19th, 2017
Freshet Collective 701.301.7511 email@example.com
For Press: 510.292.7935
For the first time, two water protectors, Alexander Simon, 27, and Mary Redway, 64, were found guilty of state misdemeanor offenses and sentenced to jail. Simon was sentenced to 18 days and Redway sentenced to six days and ordered to pay a fine of $1,750. Both were taken into custody immediately after being sentenced.
Laura Grijalva, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe from Wakpala, SD, and legal worker with the Freshet Collective, sat through the entirety of the two day trial and was devastated by the result, “Today was a tough day. I witnessed the judge find a 64 year old woman guilty when all she did was stand there. They handcuffed her while I cried thinking of all my Standing Rock families...and how all we wanted was clean water. Another young man was also sentenced to jail time. The courts had no shame in how they treated us. Prayers for the Water Protectors.”
Today’s verdict is inconsistent with previous convictions we have seen. The outcome of most cases to date involve unsupervised probation and the erasure of charges after one year. Although the prosecution did not recommend jail time, Judge Merrick insisted on it. He also ordered Redway and Simon be taken into custody immediately, despite requests for a turn-in date which would allow them time to get their affairs in order.
These cases arise from a peaceful protest on October 22, 2016 when 120 people were arrested while holding signs and praying in a pastureland. To date, the vast majority have been dismissed for lack of evidence. However, the defendants on trial this week were among those recharged by the State after their original charges were dismissed. Neither have prior convictions.
Though Simon and Redway are the first water protectors to be sentenced to jail time, three other water protectors are still incarcerated while awaiting trial:
Red Fawn Fallis, in custody for nearly one year, facing a mandatory minimum of 25 years and the potential for life in prison
Little Feather, in custody for 7 months, facing a mandatory minimum of 15 years
Dion Ortiz, in custody for for two weeks, facing a mandatory minimum of 15 years
Eddie Bad Hand, a co-defendant on trial who was acquitted, said, “These people were not guilty regardless of what [the State] said. They were doing the right thing. No one should have been found guilty.” He urged fellow water protectors, “Stay strong. Continue to stand and keep believing in what you stood for.”
Freshet Collective is an Indigenous led organization that provides legal support for those engaged in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock. If you are an arrestee and need assistance with travel, lodging, or securing representation, go to freshetcollective.org/resources/. Freshet prioritizes Indigenous water protectors.