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PCJF Joins Legal Team Defending Water Protectors at Standing Rock

The PCJF is proud to be part of the legal team litigating in federal court against the violent, militarized police suppression of Water Protectors at Standing Rock. The WPLC filed Dundon v. Kirchmeier, a federal civil rights class action lawsuit challenging law enforcement’s excessive, indiscriminate and mass brutal force against Water Protectors.

This historic constitutional rights litigation is pressing forward in the face of Donald Trump’s Executive Order allowing the pipeline to go forward and giving a green light to the all out brutal assault against the Water Protectors and Native American communities whose lands are being violated.

On November 20 law enforcement conducted a violent attack against protestors and those engaged in prayer circles on Backwater Bridge, resulting in many serious injuries. Officers used a water cannon and fire hoses to spray hundreds of Water Protectors despite sub-freezing temperatures. At the same time, chemical agents were used, including explosive teargas grenades, and impact munitions such as lead-filled “beanbags” and rubber and plastic impact rounds were fired indiscriminately into the crowd. A 21-year-old woman lost part of her arm as a result of one of the explosive grenades. Dozens of people were hospitalized and hundreds more treated by medical personnel at the camp.

Navajo lead plaintiff Vanessa Dundon, who was attempting to aid another person, was struck in the face and eye by a teargas canister and may never regain vision in her right eye. The lawsuit seeks damages and injunctive relief against further indiscriminate use of dangerous weapons such as impact munitions, explosive teargas grenades and canisters, and water cannons and hoses, for crowd dispersal. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard is part of the Dundon legal team which includes NLG attorneys Rachel Lederman, Melinda Power, Janine Hoft, Lauren Regan, and Carol Sobel.