Watch video of their public statement and arrest, or read the press release below.
The Dakota Access Pipeline affects this entire nation and the people subject to its rule. With DAPL we have seen incredible issues regarding the rule of law, indigenous sovereignty, land seizures, state sanctioned brutality, and corporate protections and pardons for their wrongdoings. To all those who continue to be subjected to the government’s injustices, we humbly stand with you, and we ask now that you stand with us.
Federal courts gave corporations permission to lie and withhold information from the public resulting in a complete media blackout. So, after recently being called by The Intercept, an independent media outlet, regarding illegal surveillance by Energy Transfer Partners and their goons, we viewed this as an opportunity to encourage public discourse surrounding nonviolent direct action as well as exposing the inadequacies of the government and the corporations it protects.
After exploring and exhausting all avenues of process, including attending public commentary hearings, gathering signatures for valid requests for Environmental Impact Statements, participating in civil disobedience, hunger strikes, marches and rallies, boycotts and encampments, we saw the clear deficiencies of our government to hear the people’s demands.
Instead, the courts and public officials allowed these corporations to take property without permission from landowners; and to brutalize the land, water, and people. The system is broken and it is up to us as individuals to take peaceful action and remedy it. This we did, out of necessity.
We acted for our children, because the world they’re inheriting is unfit. There are over five major bodies of water here in Iowa, and none of them are clean because of corporations’ flagrant irresponsibility. Now another wishes to poison millions of us irreparably by putting us all at risk of another major catastrophe with yet another oil spill. DAPL has already leaked, and it will continue do so until the oil is shut off and the pipes are removed from the ground.
On election night 2016, we began our peaceful direct action campaign at a Dakota Access construction site, burning at least 5 pieces of heavy machinery in Buena Vista County, IA. (More details below.) Our action wasn’t much, but we at least stopped construction for a day at that particular site.
We then researched the tools necessary to pierce through the 5⁄8 inch steel pipe used for this pipeline. In March we began to apply this self-gathered information. We started in Mahaska County, IA, using oxy-acetylene cutting torches to pierce through exposed, empty steel valves, successfully delaying completion of the pipeline for weeks. After the success of this peaceful action, we began to use this tactic up and down the pipeline, throughout Iowa and a part of South Dakota, moving from valve to valve until running out of supplies, and continuing to stop the completion of this project.
These actions of great public interest were hardly reported, with the federal government and Energy Transfer Partners colluding together to lie and withhold vital information from the public.
We then returned to arson as a tactic. Using tires and gasoline-soaked rags we burned multiple valve sites, their electrical units, and heavy equipment located on DAPL easements throughout Iowa, further halting construction.
In the first week of May we attempted yet again to pierce a valve located in Wapallo County, IA with an oxy-acetylene cutting torch. We discovered oil was flowing through the pipe. This was beyond disheartening to us, as well as to the nation at large. This event was again hidden from the public and replaced with lies about “ditch depressions.”
We stand here today as witnesses of peaceful, nonviolent direct action. Our actions have been those of necessity and humility. We feel we have done nothing to be ashamed of. For some reason the courts and ruling government value corporate property and profit over our inherent human rights to clean water and land.
We are speaking publicly to empower others to act boldly, with purity of heart, to dismantle the infrastructure which deny us our rights to water, land and liberty. We as civilians have seen the repeated failures of the government and it is our duty to act with responsibility and integrity, risking our own liberty for the sovereignty of us all.
Some may view these actions as violent, but be not mistaken. We acted from our hearts and never threatened human life nor personal property. What we did do was fight a private corporation that has run rampant across our country seizing land and polluting our nation’s water supply. You may not agree with our tactics, but you can clearly see their necessity in light of the broken government.
We do not anticipate a fair trial. We expect our loved ones to undergo harassment from the federal government and the corporations it protects. Read resources on what to do if the federal agents appear at your doorstep. Educate and protect yourself. We urge you not to speak one word to the federal government and to stand firm against pressure to make statements. Film any interactions.
It is unfortunate to have to prepare for such things, but this is the government that rules, which continues to look more and more like a Nazi, fascist Germany as each day passes. We salute the people.
Details of our peaceful direct action follow. We hope this information inspires others to act boldly and peacefully. We hope it eases anxieties and dispels misperceptions that the state or these corporations are omniscient or undefeatable.
After studying how fires work, and the metal material of the infrastructure we wished to halt, we learned that the fire had to be hot enough to melt steel—and we have learned typical arson is not always the most effective means, but every action is a thorn in their side.
On election night 2016, knowing that gasoline burns quickly, but does not sustain by itself, we added motor oil (which burns at a higher temperature and for longer) and rags to coffee canisters and placed them on the seats of the machinery, piercing the coffee canisters once they were in place and striking several matches, anticipating that the seats would burn and maintain a fire long enough to make the machines obsolete. One canister did not light, and that is unfortunate, but five out of six ain’t bad.
As we saw construction continue, we realized pipe was going into the ground and that our only means to obstruct further corporate desecration was somehow to pierce through the empty steel pipes exposed at the numerous valve sites. We learned that a welding torch using oxygen and acetylene was the proper tool. We bought the equipment outside of our city in efforts to maintain anonymity as our goal was to push this corporation beyond their means, forcing them to eventually abandon the project. We bought kits at Home Depot and the tanks at welding supply stores, like Praxair and Mathesons. Having no experience with welding equipment before, we learned through our own volition and we were able to get the job down to 7 minutes.
In our particular circumstances, we learned that scouting often hindered our ability to act in windows of opportunity. So, we went with our torches and protective gear on, and found numerous sites, feeling out the “vibe” of each situation, and deciding to act then and there, often in broad daylight. Trust your spirit, trust the signs.
Having run out of supplies (the tanks) we decided to return to arson because every action counts. We used gasoline and rags along with tires (as tires burn a nice while, once a steady fire within them burns) on equipment at multiple DAPL sites.
We were able to get more supplies shortly after and returned to a valve site in Wapello County to act again. We discovered that oil was flowing through the pipeline. Our action was not reported to the public; instead a story of “ditch depressions” was given as the reason the pipeline continued to be delayed.
Because of these lies, we choose to come out publicly, to set the record straight and be open about these peaceful and viable tactics against corporate atrocities.
If we have any regrets, it is that we did not act enough.
Please support and stand with us in this journey because we all need this pipeline stopped.
Water is Life, oil is death.
Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya
Read more, plus our analysis of Ruby and Jessica’s ecosabotage