Two anti-DAPL activists surrender to authorities in Des Moines after admitting to attacks on the pipeline

Dakota Access Pipeline construction — photo by Lars Plougmann via Flickr

Two Des Moines women were taken into custody by the Iowa State Patrol on Monday, following a press conference in which they admitted to damaging the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and equipment used to build and maintain the pipeline.

In a press release issued before the 10 a.m. press conference in front of the Iowa Utilities Board building in Des Moines, Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya said, “We acted for our children and the world that they are inheriting is unfit.” Reznicek and Montoya claimed they “explored and exhausted all avenues of process” to oppose DAPL, before beginning their acts of sabotage on Election Night 2016, when they “burned at least five pieces of heavy machinery [at a DAPL construction site] in Buena Vista County.”

We then began to research the tools necessary to pierce through 5/8 inch steel pipe, the material used for this pipeline. In March we began to apply this self-gathered information. We began in Mahaska County, IA, using oxy-acetylene cutting torches to pierce through exposed, empty steel valves, successfully delaying completion of the pipeline for weeks. After the success of this peaceful action, we began to use this tactic up and down the pipeline, throughout Iowa (and a part of South Dakota), moving from valve to valve until running out of supplies, and continuing to stop the completion of this project.

“This was a last stand effort for them,” Amber Mae Duvall, who is acting as a spokesperson for Reznicek and Montoya, told Little Village. “People weren’t being heard, despite hunger strikes and other forms of civil disobedience, and so they turned to sabotage and property destruction, which they believed were effective means to act against the corporations.”

According to Duvall, the pair decided to confess and publicly surrender themselves because Dakota Access, LLC, and its parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, had stopped publicly reporting on the damage they were doing to the pipeline. Duvall said Reznicek and Montoya had learned from independent journalists that Energy Transfer Partners has adopted a policy of not informing the public about problems with the DAPL.

“There could be leaks [of oil], there could be other problems going on in your backyard, and you wouldn’t be notified about it based on Energy Transfer Partners protocols,” Duvall said.

Little Village contacted Energy Transfer Partners to discuss their policies and for comment on Reznicek and Montoya, but has not yet received a reply. There are no verified reports supporting the claim that Energy Transfer Partners is refusing to inform the public about pipeline problems.

Zak Neumann, Dakota Access Pipeline, Bakken Pipeline
Jessica Reznicek hugs Sandusky resident Anita Kelly after their release from the Lee County Jail following an arrest for trespassing. Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. — photo by Zak Neumann

Reznicek and Montoya are both longtime political activists, and both have had encounters with the law before. KCCI reports that Montoya was recently charged for taking part in a pipeline protest in Tennessee, and that Reznicek has been arrested multiple times while protesting. Reznicek was convicted in Nebraska for damaging a building belong to Northrop Grumman, a major defense contractor.

So far, Iowa officials have only charged Reznicek and Montoya with 4th degree criminal mischief, for pulling letters off the Iowa Utilities Board sign following their press conference. According to their press release, the two expect to stand trial for the damage they caused to the pipeline and construction equipment.

Reznicek and Montoya said they do not expect a fair trial. They also announced they will represent themselves in court.

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