UPDATE: Still no official charges against Whiteclay protestors
KOTA-TV News / August 27, 2012
UPDATE (August 27, 7:30 p.m.):
It’s still unclear what the five demonstrators arrested Sunday in Whiteclay were cited for.
Sheridan County, Neb., attorney Jamie Simmons tells KOTA Territory News she can only speculate as to the possibilities until she gets all the paperwork from the Nebraska State Patrol and files official charges.
She said two likely citations would be blocking the roadway and disobeying a lawful order.
The protest group, Deep Green Resistance, claims on its Web site the arrested could face up to $10,000 in collective fines.
Simmons said the only way that would be possible is if they are each charged with at least two Class I misdemeanors, which would each carry a $1,000 maximum penalty.
Disobeying an order is a Class III misdemeanor under Nebraska law.
Simmons also said jail time is possible, but she thinks it’s unlikely.
The NSP would not comment on the citations for prosecutorial reasons.
UPDATE (August 27, 11:15 a.m.):
Deep Green Resistance says on its Web site, confirmed by the Sheridan County Attorney’s Office, the five protestors were released on their own recognizance after agreeing to unlock themselves.
The group identifies the demonstrators as Alexander Knox, Rachel Collins, Alex Budd, Val Wesp, and T.R. McKenzie.
They are reportedly facing up to $10,000 in fines collectively.
The Sheridan County Attorney tells us charges are pending against the protestors, adding they were given citations instead of facing actual arrests after agreeing to unlock themselves.
An estimated 150 to 200 people came together in Pine Ridge early Sunday afternoon and walked the two miles to Whiteclay, Neb.
The march was part of a protest against alcohol distributors in the small town selling to Oglala Sioux Tribal members from the otherwise dry Pine Ridge Reservation.
But the real demonstration started when they got to Whiteclay.
“The only way our people are heard is when we take it to a drastic level,” said protestor Vic Camp.
That’s why five protestors from Deep Green Resistance, an international group, locked arms in the middle of Highway 87 in Whiteclay.
“They asked to be given a little bit of time to settle the situation,” said Terry E. Robbins, Sheriff of Sheridan County in Nebraska.
That was after the situation escalated to the point of arrests.
One minor involved in the protest was cited for a weapons violation and released to his mother, but not before bystanders say they caught face-fuls of pepper spray.
“As I was filming from behind the cop car,” said protestor William Matchett, “the window came down and he held out his mace can and sprayed another youth right full in the face who wasn’t a threat to him, who was just trying to talk to the officer.”
One accidental victim was a 10-year-old boy.
“That’s a problem with deploying mace,” Sheriff Robbins said. “You can’t control it once it comes out of the container.”
Collateral damage or not, he said from the information he has, the use of pepper spray was probably justified.
“Mace is not de-escalation,” one protestor told him.
Demonstrators say neither is pushing through crowds with a police cruiser, another incident that occurred after police had arrested the minor with the knife.
Regardless of the tension, though, the demonstration against liquor stores that some report move upwards of 12,000 cans of beer a day in a 14-person town remained largely calm.
“Keep it peaceful,” Camp told the group. “I don’t want any of our relatives, any more of us, to go to jail.”
But that’s exactly what the DGR protestors on the highway were prepared for.
“You’re in violation of a lawful order,” a Nebraska State trooper told the five seated in the roadway. “And as such, you’re subject to arrest.”
Law enforcement made good on that at around 8:15 p.m., about seven hours after the protestors first sat down.
An organizer on the scene told us the five were arrested and carted off — still locked together — in a horse trailer.
Information on charges and where they’re being held wasn’t immediately available.