Water Protector Erica Gonzalez during her trial in Mandan, ND.
Published January 9, 2018
“When they’re raping our mother earth, they are also raping our women.”
MANDAN, NORTH DAKOTA – The second group of trials from the Standing Rock action in commemoration of missing and murdered indigenous women concluded today. These were among the first of over 20 Water Protectors going to trial during the coming weeks from the November 15, 2016 action at a so-called “man camp” – temporary housing for oilfield workers that become havens for gendered violence and human trafficking of indigenous women and girls.
Water Protector Rebecca Jessee was convicted of Tampering with a Public Service, a Class C felony. Water Protector Erica Gonzalez was acquitted on all charges.
“We wanted to have our ceremony there to raise awareness that wherever these pipelines come in they bring these man camps, and then our women around the reservations go missing and are getting murdered or raped. The state doesn’t do anything about it,” said Ms. Gonzalez. “I don’t want to sugar-coat it: when they’re raping our mother earth, they are also raping our women.”
“The brutality needs to stop. We need to stop looking away and pretending that it’s not happening as if it’s OK or permissible. It’s not,” said Rebecca Jessee as she awaited her verdict.
Rebecca Jessee received the same sentence that Water Protector Rodrick Joe received yesterday when he was convicted on the same charge. Both received a 360 days deferred sentence with court fees and fines not to exceed the bond amount of $1,500, and with credit for two days of time already served.
A “deferred” sentence is suspended until after a specified period of time, in this case 360 days. If they are not re-arrested during that time, the charge can be dismissed and the conviction removed from their records. Both Jessee and Joe were released immediately after trial and sentencing.
Over 300 Water Protectors are still awaiting trial on state charges in North Dakota, and six Water Protectors are preparing for federal criminal trials.