FUNDING AND SUPPORT
If you were arrested at an action resisting the Dakota Access pipeline near Standing Rock and you need help accessing resources, we are here for you.
We have a team of organizers working round the clock to help you protect yourself from state repression, travel to your court dates, find a place to stay, secure a good attorney to represent you, and navigate the complicated legal process. We have funding to help you if you can't pay for it yourself. We can connect you to other water protectors and support strategies of solidarity and defense. We are behind the scenes, making sure you have the information and resources you need to take control of your own legal situation. To access our funding and support services, please fill out one or both of these brief forms:
I NEED AN ATTORNEY
Freshet Collective works with skilled North Dakota attorneys who have demonstrated their dedication to fighting for water protectors. Please fill this out if you are in need of legal representation.
The next step is getting the information you need. We built this wiki page specifically for water protectors. It is the best place to start looking for answers to all of your legal questions.
In addition, these external resources have a wealth of information about legal rights, security, and interactions with law enforcement.
Know your rights when interacting with police. 10 basic ways to flex your rights.
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in-depth Know Your Rights booklet “If an Agent Knocks.”
Online resource for activists and others to protect their digital information made available from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
TILTED SCALES ZINE
A zine version of the Tilted Scales Collective book, “The Criminal Legal System for Radicals: Setting and Balancing Personal, Political, and Legal Goals.”
OVERVIEW OF THE LEGAL PROCESS
This is an overview of the process water protectors may go through when they are arrested. This may vary depending on your circumstances and charges.
TRANSPORT TO JAIL
Most arrestees are transported to Morton County to be held and have their cases heard. Sometimes others have transferred to any of a number of other jails across the state. We track arrests and find you.
Once you are in jail, call the jail support hotline so that we can coordinate an attorney to give you a bail advisement. Remember, you always have the right to remain silent. Anything you say will likely be used against you. Remember these magic words "I choose to remain silent. I want see a lawyer", and then remain silent.
Depending on you charges, bond may be set at the jail. Otherwise you will have to go before a judge to have your bond set.
If you do not have access to resources to bond yourself out of jail, the Freshet Collective may pay your bond. If you accept these funds, you must show up for your court appearances or you will forfeit the movement's money to North Dakota law enforcement.
You must also agree to return any bond money remaining upon conclusion of the case back to the Freshet Collective, to be redeposited in the Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund.
ARRAIgnMENT AND PRE-TRIAL
You may attend a bond hearing before being released from jail, and if so, you will likely be arraigned at that hearing. But if you were bonded directly out of jail before appearing before a judge at a bond hearing, then will be arraigned at your initial appearance.
After that, the second court date is typically a pre-trial conference. You can apply for a public defender- but many or most applications that are returned because the form was not entirely filled out. If you cannot get a public defender, we may be able to find a lawyer to take your case.
Your lawyer will be the best places you may find answers to many of your questions. These different types of hearings are explained in detail in our Wiki Page, which is a good place to start learning basic legal info.
In most cases, the most important thing is to show up. Search the North Dakota Courts Records Inquiry to find the date, time, and location for your next court date. If you cannot find what you are looking for or if you have any questions, call the Morton County Clerk at 701-667-3358.
Your attorney will do everything they can to get your case dismissed. In many cases this will happen before it ever goes to trial. In the event that you and your attorney do decide to go to trial, you have a right to have your case heard before a jury. Your attorney will explain everything you need to know.
#NoDAPL Prisoner Support
After nearly a year of putting their bodies on the line to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline and protect sacred land, there are still water protectors being held as prisoners for standing up for sacred water and land, like Red Fawn Fallis. It is essential that we continue to support them to remind them that they are loved. Please follow their stories, donate to their legal funds and commissaries, and write them letters!
Prisoner Letter Info
Writing to prisoners is one of the most important aspects of support. Letters from relatives, comrades and new friends is a lifeline for those inside and provides connection to the outside world. One of the hardest things for many prisoners to cope with is the feeling of isolation – being cut off from friends and family and everything they know in their lives on the outside. Prison and jail are designed to be isolating, but communication from the outside can cut through isolation and remind those inside that they are never alone.
In many cases, contact from the outside lets the prison authorities know that there are people on the outside who care and are monitoring the situation. For example, religious freedoms and special dietary requirements (halal, kosher, vegan, etc) are more likely to be adhered to if a prisoner is obviously not forgotten.
Here are some important reminders for you prior to writing your letter to #NoDAPL prisoners:
Every letter is potentially read by the guards, so don't write anything that might incriminate yourself or others. Do not write about illegal activities, happenings at the resistance camps, etc. The rule of thumb here is don't put anything in a letter that you wouldn't say to directly to the police.
Remember that these prisoners are all pre-trial, which means that beyond their mail be generally monitored, it can be entered into evidence against them.
These are political prisoners and you should obviously let them know you support their politics, but don't start praising them as heroes. "Hero letters," can add to the state's repressive tactics and help label people as "leaders." If someone is caught up for a political action they probably don't want to be seen as martyrs – they're just normal people, so write to them like normal people rather than fawning! Human connection is more important than heroism.
Don't EVER promise things you can't deliver. Whether you're promising books, commissary money, et cetera- breaking promises to someone inside is not in line with supporting them.
Political literature – be careful! Unless the prisoner asks for it, avoid sending any overly contentious political material in as it can potentially cause them issues with the prison. There's no problem sending this kind of thing as long as you ask the prisoner first and always respect their wishes!
Addresses of Those in Custody
Red Fawn Fallis is currently incarcerated in Burleigh County Jail in Bismarck, ND. She is currently awaiting to be transferred to prison where she will serve her time. As per her loved ones, Red Fawn is asking that any financial assistance be sent to:
Red Fawn Fallis
Burleigh County Detention Center
514 East Thayer Avenue
Bismarck, North Dakota 58502-1416
Michael Giron (Little Feather) is serving time in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia. Mail for him can be sent to:
Michael Giron (Little Feather) 25201-075
Bruceton Mills, WV 26525
Dion Ortiz is currently incarcerated in Burleigh County Jail in Bismarck, ND where he is awaiting sentencing. Mail for him can be sent to:
Burleigh County Detention Center
514 East Thayer Avenue
Bismarck, North Dakota 58502-1416
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions people have about writing to those in prison or jail:
What should I write them? Starting your first letter can feel difficult, especially if you are writing to someone you don't already have a relationship with. You may be worried that what you write might sound stupid, or make the prisoner feel worse, or you simply can't think of anything. Of course if the prisoner is your relative or friend then this part is easy, but what about a total stranger? You can simply start by telling them about yourself, what you do, what you're into, where you got their address and so on. This breaks the ice and also make a reply easier. Apart from that, just fill a side of paper with whatever you can think of – a hike you took, a tender moment you saw at the park between a mother and child, the last movie you saw, or pretty much anything! We have tried to include some personal details about #NoDAPL prisoners that could help get your conversation going. Most prisoners that we know have commented that while robust political discussions are great, so are letters about Harry Potter books or space exploration or poetry! The point being that these folks are dynamic humans with varied interests and parts of themselves they'd probably like to share while in a place that is designed to strip them of their humanity.
I’m not sure I can manage a full letter... That is okay! A quick message of support on a postcard can still really brighten up someone's day. Try taking a card to a meeting, a family gathering or a protest where everyone can sign it!
How do I make sure my letter gets in? Make sure to write the prisoner's full name and prisoner ID number on the envelope. Put your name and address at the top of the letter and on the top left corner. You can use a pen name if you've got any reservations, but bear in mind this is what the prisoner will see if they're going to write you a reply. Some prisons will refuse to accept letters with “care of‟ or PO Box addresses so it's best to use a street address. Some prisons have rules forbidding certain imagery (e.g. gang symbols being banned from US prisons) and this may encompass political symbols as well. Different facilities have different rules, so call the prison or jail if you aren't sure if something can be mailed in. Typically you cannot send pictures drawn with anything other than markers, polaroid photos, or cards that have glue or glitter on them.
What about getting a reply? Remember that you're doing this to support the prisoner, not to acquire a new pen-pal - although the two often go hand-in-hand! You may not get a reply for several reasons: obviously the prisoner might not have received your letter or they might be getting a lot of mail (if they're fortunate enough), so they may not have time to reply to everyone. They may be limited in the number of letters they can write by the prison authorities and prefer to prioritize relatives and close friends. They may not have access to sufficient writing materials or stamps, they may have been moved, or they may simply not be very good at writing letters. Regardless, don't be put out if there's no reply and don't let this deter you from continuing to write. Keep sending postcards and letters!
Can I send anything else in? The golden rule here is to ask the prisoner if you've got any doubts. You can always try contacting the prison, asking to speak to the mailroom or an administrator about what items are approved by the facility. If you feel that the prison or jail staff is not being truthful or is misleading you, a common tactic of repression by the institution, ask if they have a copy of their inmate handbook or mail regulations for you to review. These are often available online, but not always. The rules vary widely between different prisons and are sometimes baffling or non-sensical. If you send anything in, clearly write at the top of your letter what you've enclosed as this lessens the chances of guards taking items without the prisoners knowledge. Generally, books have to be from a publisher, although the guards get to decide which publishers are “legitimate”. Some people get around this by sending books from an Amazon account, which many guards accept as “legitimate”. Many prisoners have Amazon book wish lists that have been set up from which you can mail something directly. Guards may withhold some literature on the grounds of content, it all depends on which guard is looking through the mail any given day. Sometimes books or zines get through just fine, other times a prisoner never receives them.