If you happen to be an activist based out of Nebraska, you’d be justified in breathing a sigh of relief right about now.
On August 26th, myself and four others blockaded the road through Whiteclay Nebraska for seven hours. For participating in this direct action, we were charged with “Pedestrian on a Highway,” “Disobeying a Lawful Order,” and “Resisting Arrest.”
Well, actually, first we were dropped unceremoniously (and illegally) into a manure-encrusted livestock trailer, and then we were charged with those misdemeanors. Anyway, we weren’t too surprised by the first two charges. We certainly were “pedestrians on a highway – that was the point. We were also definitely disobeying police orders – they said “get up,” and we said “no.” “Resisting arrest,” however, upped the ante quite a bit. If we had been convicted of that charge, there would have been new legal precedent set in the state of Nebraska. In short, if they had successfully stuck us with resisting arrest, they could have applied that charge to all future direct action participants in the state. Since resisting arrest is an automatic felony the second time you’re convicted of it, this precedent would have been a serious impediment to all future direct action in Nebraska.
Luckily, “Resisting Arrest” has been dropped from our list of charges! It’s been replaced by another third charge, “Obstructing a Peace Officer” – another Class I misdemeanor like a lesser version of resisting arrest. Our court date is set for September 26th at 9:00 AM. If you live in or near Rushville, there’s a rally planned for 8:30 AM outside the courthouse. The threat of setting new, restrictive precedent is gone, but we’d rather set another kind of new precedent – one where peacefully protesters standing against obvious atrocity are not punished by the state. There’s a petition going around pushing for that result. Please sign it and share it.
We’d also rather that future Nebraska activists are not transported to jail in a rickety, unsanitary livestock trailer. Horse manure often carries E. Coli, Anthrax, and airborne worm eggs. Most of us ended up with bruises from being thrown into the air as the trailer hurtled over bumps. Worst of all, the whole thing was totally avoidable. If the state troopers had coordinated with the tribal police (who were also present at the action), they could have easily gotten a van or a school bus from Red Cloud School on the reservation – less than two miles from Whiteclay. Instead, they chose to illegally transport us in a livestock trailer. We’ve each made complaints to the captain, but the more people they hear from the better! You can call 402-471-4680 for their headquarters in Lincoln and ask to leave a message of complaint with the captain.
As much as we hope these charges get dropped, we’re also planning for the possibility that they won’t be. We’re still facing up to $6000 in fines collectively. Even $5 helps lot, and you can donate here.
We really appreciate all the support we’ve gotten! We’re committed to standing with the Lakota on this campaign until the last bar in Whiteclay closes its doors for good, but we’ll need your continuing support in order to make that victory a reality.