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Attempted murder charge fi led in connection with DAPL protests

A Denver woman was charged with attempted murder Monday for allegedly pulling a concealed weapon and firing three shots at law enforcement officers as they were arresting her during an effort to evict Dakota Access Pipeline protesters from land o...

A Denver woman was charged with attempted murder Monday for allegedly pulling a concealed weapon and firing three shots at law enforcement officers as they were arresting her during an effort to evict Dakota Access Pipeline protesters from land owned by the pipeline company Thursday in Morton County.

Red Fawn Fallis, 37, also was charged with preventing arrest, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of marijuana, criminal conspiracy to commit endangering by fire, maintaining a public nuisance and engaging in a riot. She faces up to 20 years in prison for the attempted murder charge and more than 12 years combined for the other charges if convicted. A judge set bail at $100,000 cash.

In the aftermath of the arrest of Fallis and 140 others Thursday, legal staff and camp organizers were trying to assist those facing charges and help people retrieve belongings that were lost when law enforcement removed people from their frontline encampment.

Most face a felony charge of endangering by fire or explosion and had bond set at $1,500.

Joye Braun, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, said those charged with the felony related to setting fire to roadblocks and vehicles include elders who were praying and tribal historic preservation officers who were there to observe.

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“I think that’s baloney,” Braun said of the felony charges.

An affidavit filed with the charges against Fallis says two deputies from Pennington County, Minn., who were helping Morton County move protesters south on Highway 1806 were going to arrest Fallis for “being an instigator and acting disorderly.”

Fallis allegedly struggled as deputies tried to handcuff her face-down on the ground. They were able to get her right arm behind her, but her left arm was tucked under her body.

When one of the deputies stopped pulling on her left arm to make it easier for the other deputy to get the handcuff on her right arm, Fallis allegedly pulled a .38-caliber revolver and fired three shots, with one shot hitting the ground near a deputy’s leg. The deputy lunged at her left arm and with the help of other officers was able to get the gun away from her, the affidavit says.

The deputy, Rusty Schmidt, “felt that Red Fawn Fallis was trying to shoot him,” it says.

Officers allegedly found a small amount of marijuana in Fallis’ pants pockets and metal knuckles in her backpack, the affidavit says.

While being transported to the Morton County Detention Center by North Dakota Parole and Probation, Fallis allegedly said she was trying to pull the gun out of her pocket and the deputies jumped her and the gun went off. She also allegedly said they were lucky she didn’t shoot “all you (expletives),” the affidavit states.

Fallis was arrested at two previous Dakota Access Pipeline protests in Morton County, for disorderly conduct on Aug. 12 and criminal trespass on Sept. 30. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges, both misdemeanors. Her attorney in those two cases couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, and she did not yet have an attorney listed in the attempted murder case.

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The mass arrests Thursday came as more than 200 officers cleared protesters from roadblocks they had set up on Highway 1806 and a camp they had established on the pipeline’s property along the highway to block Dakota Access construction from reaching the Missouri River about a mile to the east.

Pipeline construction continued Monday, which was originally the date Dakota Access had scheduled as the deadline for mechanical completion of the pipeline. Now that date is unknown as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has yet to issue an easement for the Lake Oahe crossing.

Meanwhile, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department released additional information about the temporary holding cells that were used to hold arrestees before they were processed and brought to several jails across the state. Critics including Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier have described the chainlink cells as dog kennels.

The sheriff’s department said the cells are used for mass-arrest situations only and have been inspected and approved by the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Each of the half-dozen holding cells measures at least 10-by-14 feet, and all essential services were provided to those placed in them, the department said.

Angela Bibens, an attorney for the Red Owl Legal Collective that has a tent at the Oceti Sakowin camp, said the people arrested were treated “like they were herds of animals.”

She and other legal representatives are collecting stories from people who say they were mistreated by law enforcement and set up a hotline at (701) 595-0737. Bibens said more North Dakota attorneys are needed to help represent those arrested.

One of the ongoing concerns is that people have not been able to recover ceremonial and sacred objects, Bibens said.

“That is causing so much grief,” she said.

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Donnell Preskey, a Morton County spokeswoman, said tribal representatives were allowed to take down the tipis from the camp. Preskey said she there are discussions going on about how to return the other belongings but she didn’t have details Monday.

An anonymous donor provided $15,000 to help cover the bond payments, Bibens said.

The Backwater Bridge on Highway 1806, which was torched during Thursday night’s confrontation, remains closed and still had debris and burned vehicles on it on Monday. The North Dakota Department of Transportation said it is making arrangements to inspect the bridge and make any necessary repairs before it will reopen.

Law enforcement continued to be stationed on the north side of the bridge Monday, though in smaller numbers than previous days.

Dillon Archambault, a camp security volunteer, was stopping traffic on Highway 1806 near the entrance of the Oceti Sakowin camp Monday to prevent people from driving to the bridge and telling motorists to “not antagonize police.”

“Tensions are so high these days. It’s just common sense not to raise tensions,” he said.

   

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