Standing Rock Sioux Tribe 'disappointed' with decision in #NoDAPL fight

#NoDAPL resisters in North Dakota. Photo by Sacred Stone Camp

The backers of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline continued to assail the #NoDAPL resistance movement in federal court on Tuesday even as a judge tried to broker an agreement to protect sacred sites.

With emotions running high, Judge James E. Boasberg said he came to court in a "problem solving" mode. But Dakota Access refused to budge when asked about temporarily suspending work in an area where the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has reported cultural sites and burial grounds.

Instead, attorney William J. Leone described the #NoDAPL resisters as unlawful and accused them of engaging in "attacks" on pipeline work crews. His comments echoed a filing that the Dakota Access legal team lodged earlier in the day.

"The assault has come over the fences and over the hill," Leone told the judge, referring to an area that the company has been trying to clear in recent days. He claimed two more "attacks" occurred on Tuesday before the hearing.

But Jan Hasselman, an attorney from the non-profit group Earthjustice, disputed the notion that the tribe has encouraged any violence. He said Chairman Dave Archambault II has repeatedly worked to ease tensions and pointed back at Dakota Access for playing a role in escalating the situation.

"There are scenes out there that we haven't seen in America since the 60s," Hasselman said. On Saturday -- a day after the tribe disclosed the cultural finds to the court -- security guards working for Dakota Access unleashed dogs and employed mace on #NoDAPL resisters, several of whom, including a pregnant woman and a young girl, suffered injuries after they asked construction crews to stop working on sacred ground.

The clashing arguments kept Boasberg from crafting a compromise. As a result, he denied the tribe's request for a temporary restraining order in areas west of Highway 1806, where the sacred sites have been reported. He said it wasn't clear that he had authority over those areas, which are located on private property.

At the same time, the judge granted the tribe's request with regard to areas east of Lake Oahe. The company, however, wasn't planning on doing work there in the coming days, Leone told the court.

Posted by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The lack of a clear victory represented a setback to the tribe. Going live on Facebook from North Dakota, Chairman Archambault said the decision was a "mixed" one because it does not protect the important sites that were discovered just last week.

"This decision puts our people's sacred sites at risk for continued ruin and desecrating what's important to us," Archambault said.

"We're disappointed after the decision. It does not prevent DAPL from destroying sacred sites as we await a ruling on the motion to stop construction altogether," Archambault added.

That ruling is still on its way by Friday, Boasberg promised. He said he's working an "already lengthy" opinion that goes to the heart of the matter: whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers adequately consulted the tribe before approving the pipeline. So far, the judge said he's seen "diametrically opposing views" from the two parties on that issue.

Except for discussing the length of the ruling and the difficult issues he's grappling with, Boasberg did not give any hints on whether he will grant the tribe's request for a preliminary injunction. But comments made by the Dakota Access attorney throughout the hearing indicate that the company has strong fears that the costly project could be put on hold.

At one point, Leone said the pipeline didn't want to enter into an agreement regarding the temporary restraining because it could be seen as a sign that the partnership has done something wrong. At another point, he appeared bothered by the large numbers of people who have turned out to the #NoDAPL camps to show support for the cause.

"They have celebrities on site that they don't control," Leone said. Although he didn't mention any names, actor Shailene Woodley went to North Dakota last month and has repeatedly used social media to rally for the tribe, particularly its youth.

The judge even granted a recess so that Leone could discuss various issues with Dakota Access and other members of the legal team. But when they came back after a 10-minute break, there didn't seem to be much of a change in heart about temporarily stopping work before the highly-anticipated ruling on Friday.

"There have been some really raw feelings that have developed in this case in the last couple of weeks," Leone said.

After issuing his ruling from the bench on Tuesday, Judge Boasberg issued as short order stating that "no construction activity on the DAPL may take place between Highway 1806 and 20 miles to the east of Lake Oahe. Construction activity to the west of Highway 1806 may proceed."

Relevant Documents:
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order | Declaration of Tim Mentz, Sr. | Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order | U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Response | Dakota Access Response

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