Water Protector Civil Lawsuits

Water Protector Civil Lawsuits

We need your information:

  • If you were injured on or near Backwater Bridge on the night of November 20-21, please input your information here. This form is secure and confidential, for the WPLC civil attorneys only.
  • If you were arrested on October 22, 2016, near the DAPL site, please input your information here. This form is secure and confidential, for the WPLC civil attorneys only.
  • If you were injured by law enforcement on another date, in connection with the water protector camps in North Dakota please input your information here. This form is secure and confidential, for the WPLC civil attorneys only.

The November 20 Lawsuit:

Dundon v. Kirchmeier is a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging police violence on the night of November 20-21, 2016, at Backwater Bridge, near the Oceti Sakowin camp and the site of the DAPL pipeline in North Dakota. The case was filed on November 28, 2016, in federal court, as a class action lawsuit on behalf of all persons who were injured by law enforcement that night.

Plaintiff Vanessa Dundon is a member of the Navajo/Diné Nation who was shot in the eye with a teargas canister that night, suffering a partial vision loss. She and eight other named Plaintiffs represent a class of several hundred water protectors who were injured by high pressure fire hoses, explosive grenades, chemical agents and impact munitions while peacefully protesting and engaging in prayer in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Plaintiffs’ legal team includes notable civil rights lawyers from around the country who are cooperating with WPLC to pursue the case. The Indigenous Peoples’ Law & Policy Program at the University of Arizona is working with WPLC and the Plaintiffs’ legal team to bring the human rights and treaty violations to the attention of international bodies.

In February, 2017, United States District Court Judge Daniel Hovland denied the water protectors’ initial request that he restrict the local sheriff from using water cannons or fire hoses in freezing temperatures, explosives and other dangerous weapons on peaceful crowds. The lawsuit continues to move forward and asks for monetary compensation for the injuries and the violation of the water protectors’ constitutional rights, as well as for changes in local law enforcement practices. The Defendants — Morton County, its Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, and other local law enforcement — have asked the court to dismiss the case or parts of the case. The Plaintiff’s legal team filed our papers opposing that in April, 2018, and requested a hearing to show the video evidence and argue the case, but the court has not set a hearing or decided the motion yet. As the other federal district court judge seat for North Dakota is currently empty, there is just one judge covering the entire state and he is backed up in all cases, so we don’t necessarily take the delay as a bad sign as to how he will rule. As soon as we hear from the court, we will update this page.

In April, 2018, we also submitted a report to the United Nations on the human rights violations against the water protectors. The report was presented to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, and to other UN officials during the 17th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), and informed the Special Rapporteur’s presentation to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2018. We are currently working on a request to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for a thematic hearing on the suppression of indigenous protest and criminalization of indigenous resistance to extractive industries in the United States.

Read more:

October 22 mass arrest, and other cases:

Watch this page or the Water Protector Legal Collective website for updates on this, and other civil litigation that we will be filing to seek redress for the human rights violations against the water protectors. If you were arrested on October 22, 2016, we need your contact info so please fill out the form linked in the first paragraph above.