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8th Circuit Court of Appeals To Hear Oral Arguments in Standing Rock Civil Rights case,

Dundon v. Kirchmeier, on September 19, 2023


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 15, 2023


Contact:

Rachel Lederman, Esq. (Lead Counsel)

Partnership for Civil Justice Fund

415-508-4955


Natali Segovia, Esq.

Water Protector Legal Collective


St. Louis, MO – On Tuesday, September 19, 2023, at 2 p.m. CT, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in Dundon v. Kirchmeier, a federal civil rights class-action lawsuit in which six named plaintiffs are seeking redress on behalf of hundreds of #NoDAPL Water Protectors who were injured by law enforcement on the night of November 20, 2016. During the night of November 20, 2016, hundreds of Water Protectors were injured and dozens hospitalized by law enforcement violence.


Water Protectors and interested members of the public can access the oral arguments either in-person in St. Louis, Missouri or by dialing-in to the public access number using the information below:


8th Circuit of Appeals

Tuesday, September 19, 2023, 2pm CT

Division III, Northeast Courtroom, 27th Floor

1-888-363-4749

Access code: 8193068


The Dundon case was filed on November 28, 2016, a week after law enforcement unleashed a ten-hour-long barrage of impact munitions, chemical weapons, explosive grenades, and freezing water on unarmed, nonviolent Water Protectors at Backwater Bridge. Since then, the Dundon legal team has sought to prove police use of force was illegal and excessive, seeking accountability from law enforcement. On December 29, 2021, after five years of litigation, the North Dakota District Court ruled in favor of law enforcement, finding that law enforcement was justified in its unprecedented and excessive use of force. On April 22, 2022, the Dundon legal team filed an appeal in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeal brief referenced over 1,700 pages of evidence refuting Morton County’s claims that law enforcement was under attack and had to inflict mass violence to avoid being overrun. In support of Plaintiffs’ appeal, an amicus brief was filed by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and another amicus was filed by the National Police Accountability Project (NPAP), an organization comprised of leading experts on constitutional and civil rights law that promotes the accountability of law enforcement officers and their employers for violations of the Constitution and the laws of the United States.


On Tuesday, the 8th Circuit Court will hear from Dundon lead counsel, Rachel Lederman, who will argue for Plaintiffs along with Michael Avery, on behalf of the National Police Accountability Project. Rachel Lederman, with the Center for Protest Law and Litigation, shared her thoughts: "The district court improperly usurped the role of the jury as factfinder when it dismissed this case without trial, and accepted law enforcement's summary demonization of the water protectors as a violent horde… extensive video evidence shows the opposite–individuals on the bridge that night were predominately peaceful, praying, singing and standing vigil to protect sacred land and water while officers ensconced behind a multilayer barricade from where they injured hundreds of people."


Michael Avery, an expert on civil rights law, also discussed the case, saying: “Law enforcement is arguing that protestors and demonstrators exercising their rights to freedom of speech do not have protection under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution from excessive and unreasonable force intended to shut them down and drive them away. This is an outrageous argument that police across the country are making with increasing frequency. People have a right to peacefully demonstrate in support of their rights and we will oppose all efforts to silence them with munitions and water cannons.”


To Water Protectors, this case isn’t just one more civil rights case. For attorneys working on this case, it is also part of protecting the Sacred. It was brought to defend Water Protectors and Land Defenders, but ultimately, it was brought to protect the Earth and the Water for future generations.


Wašté Win Young, Water Protector and former Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for Standing Rock, reflected on the significance of the case: “I was born and raised on Standing Rock. It’s my home. The law enforcement that attacked us were our neighbors. It was surreal. Even now, when I cross that bridge I remember the people who got maimed, fell through ice, sprayed with water and chemicals, injured by those who are supposed to protect us. There are several images imprinted in my mind from November 20, 2016. I remember law enforcement indiscriminately aiming water canons at a group of Native American individuals who were praying on their knees, while other law enforcement personnel shot tear gas and projectiles into the crowd where I was standing. I nearly choked on the tear gas. It is my hope that the rule of law will prevail against the law enforcement who blatantly disregarded the constitutional and civil rights of hundreds of peaceful protestors.”


***

The Dundon legal team consists of WPLC Cooperating Attorneys Rachel Lederman (Partnership for Civil Justice), Mara Verheyden-Hilliard (Partnership for Civil Justice), Janine Hoft (People’s Law Office), Melinda Power (West Town Law Office), and Natali Segovia, WPLC Legal Director.


For more on Dundon please visit:


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