Anishinaabe Leader Winona LaDuke to appear in person on 4.4.22 for alleged “tresspass” during prayer intervention for Shell River last summer

April 3, 2022

Shell River 7 being arrested July 2021. Video: Keri Pickett

Winona LaDuke, Line 3 Anishinaabe leader and co-founder and Executive Director of the environmental justice non-profit Honor the Earth will appear in person for an omnibus evidentiary hearing in Wadena, Minnesota, on Monday April 4 for allegedly “trespassing” with six other women during a Line 3 peaceful prayer intervention at the Shell River outside of Park Rapids last summer.

LaDuke spent three nights in jail following her arrest. A new Drop the Charges rally will be held outside the courthouse Monday beginning around 8:00 a.m.

WHERE / WHEN

  • Monday, April 4, 2022, at 9:00 a.m.
  • Wadena County Courthouse, 415 Jefferson Street South, Wadena, MN, 56482

“I was arrested because I wanted to stop Enbridge Line 3 from crossing the Shell River,” LaDuke told Democracy Now the day after her release.

The charges include: 

  • Gross misdemeanor trespass on critical public service facilities, pipeline, utility posted;
  • Gross misdemeanor trespass on critical public service facilities, pipeline, refusal to leave upon demand; and
  • Misdemeanor obstruction of legal process, interfering with a police officer.

In 2018, LaDuke was appointed guardian ad litem for the Shell River by the 1855 Treaty Commission and by the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. 

Authorities made over 1,000 arrests of Water Protectors, including LaDuke, peacefully working to Stop Line 3 over the past few years. To date, 145 cases have been dismissed; others still face trumped-up charges of “Felony Theft,” “Felony Attempted Assisted Suicide” and “Conspiracy”, plus punitive plea deals. *

Shell River Seven

The arrested women are known as the Shell River Seven. They were subsequently featured in a short documentary music film – “I Am a Patriot with the Shell River Seven,” made by Honor the Earth media makers and award-winning filmmaker and photographer Keri Pickett about the incident, using a song written by actor and musician Steven Van Zandt and sung by Jackson Browne. 

The film is part of a #DropTheCharges Campaign targeting Minnesota’s elected officials.**

Shell River 7 facing off with law enforcement, July 19, 2021, Shell River, MN. Photo: Citizen X

General Updates

Total Cases:

  • As of the last report, there have been at least 953 criminal cases, representing thousands of charges. This does not include over 60 people who were arrested, held, and not yet charged. We believe we do NOT have records of every case and that the case count likely tops 1,000. 

  •  At least 500 known water protector cases are currently open and moving through the courts in MN – including outrageous trumped-up charges for water protectors, including felony theft charges when no theft has occurred, the absurd charge of felony “attempted assisted suicide” and gross misdemeanors for “trespass on critical infrastructure”. 

Dismissals: 

  •  Charges have been dismissed by various counties in Minnesota. So far, at least 145 cases have been dismissed! This includes at least two felony theft charges being dismissed on the grounds that theft involves taking something, and the defendants’ alleged actions did not constitute ‘taking’.” 

Four Hubbard County defendants’ motions to dismiss their gross misdemeanor charges were granted on Dec. 29 by Judge DeSanto. The dismissal was granted since the Hubbard County Sheriff Investigator did not provide sufficient evidence in his testimony that the pumping station was properly posted with “no trespassing” signs, similar to a motion granted earlier in December.”

Two Water Protectors with felony theft and gross misdemeanor charges from 7/1/22 in Hubbard County successfully moved to dismiss their felony charges based on a lack of probable cause: This was on the grounds that theft involves taking something, and the defendants’ alleged actions did not constitute ‘taking’.”

Trials: 

  • Although Line 3 is in the ground and the oil is flowing, many water protectors are continuing the fight in the courts including taking their cases to trial
  • A recent trial was held for a water protector, Michele, on February 25th. Michele spoke to the spiritual and necessary reasons why she took action, the destruction committed by Enbridge, and offered a challenge to the state and to the judge to punish her for protecting water, earth, and culture. Powerful space was held in court and there were about 40 supporters present in solidarity.

Update: Michele won her case on 1st Amendment defense! She was found not guilty for exposing the truth.

*Terrible plea offers: 

  •     Defendants in Wadena County are facing extremely harsh plea deals that are much more punitive than pleas offered in other counties. In Wadena County, water protectors being charged with outrageous felonies are facing “deals” of 10 years’ probation and $16k in fines and restitution. 
  •     The defendants charged with gross misdemeanors for “trespass” on “critical” infrastructure are facing “deals” of 365 days in jail (stayed during probation, so don’t have to serve it unless they violate terms of the plea, which includes paying everything off over $3,000 in just six weeks) and to complete 2 years of supervised probation with many requirements.

**Drop the Charges Campaign: 

  •     Hundreds of water protectors are still facing criminal charges in Minnesota for standing in defense of the water, the climate, and the treaty rights of the Anishinaabeg people.
  •     Over 84,000 supporters have signed a petition calling on Governor Walz and AG Keith Ellison to drop these ridiculous charges.

Misconduct and Corruption:

Tribal Court

  • White Earth Tribal Court and Red Lake Tribal Court have accepted the transfers of Indigenous Water Protectors. 
  • However, Aitkin county continues to refuse to transfer cases to tribal court at odds with the rest of the counties in that district.
  • In Wadena County, a judge has rejected the motion to dismiss cases of Indigenous Water Protectors and transfer them to tribal court. This rejection is currently being challenged.

CONTACT:

Martin Keller, Media Savant Communications, 612-220-6515, mkeller@mediasavantcom.com, @mediasavant

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2 Comments on “Anishinaabe Leader Winona LaDuke to appear in person on 4.4.22 for alleged “tresspass” during prayer intervention for Shell River last summer”

  1. menoukha case April 4, 2022 at 1:19 pm #

    Drop the Charges link is not working. Where to sign please?

  2. menoukha case April 4, 2022 at 1:21 pm #

    OK here it is everyone. https://www.stopline3.org/drop-the-charges

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