Pipeline protester leader, tribal chairman plead not guilty to charges

BISMARCK - A Dakota Access Pipeline protester who pleaded not guilty Monday to trespassing on pipeline construction sites was driving an SUV with expired tabs owned by the Democratic candidate for U.S. House when he was arrested Friday.Candidate ...
The ;protest camp behind a row of daisies south of Mandan.  Forum News Service file photo.
The ;protest camp behind a row of daisies south of Mandan. Forum News Service file photo.

BISMARCK - A Dakota Access Pipeline protester who pleaded not guilty Monday to trespassing on pipeline construction sites was driving an SUV with expired tabs owned by the Democratic candidate for U.S. House when he was arrested Friday.

Candidate Chase Iron Eyes confirmed that he lent his late 1990s Suburban to longtime friend Cody Charles Hall, 39, of Eagle Butte, S.D., so that Hall could drive someone to the airport in Bismarck from the main protest encampment about 35 miles southeast of Mandan.

A deputy recognized Hall on State Highway 1806, and he was pulled over for expired tabs in the Fort Rice area, Morton County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Donnell Preskey said.

Hall, a spokesperson for the Red Warrior Camp that has organized actions to stop pipeline construction, was arrested on two warrants for trespassing and spent the weekend in jail.

Hall pleaded not guilty Monday to a Class B misdemeanor trespassing charge stemming from a Sept. 3 protest in which protesters and private security personnel with guard dogs and pepper spray clashed violently at times. He entered the same plea to a Class A misdemeanor trespassing charge in connection with a Sept. 6 protest involving people who vandalized or bound themselves to construction equipment. Trial was set for Dec. 20.

Investigators identified Hall from photos and video posted on social media, court documents state.

Hall's mother, Francine Hall, said she believes her son was singled out by authorities because of his leadership in the protest movement, noting he didn't participate in the spray-painting of equipment.

"I think he was targeted," she said, planning to post the $150 cash bail set by South Central Judicial District Judge Gail Hagerty. State's Attorney Allen Koppy had recommended $500 bail.

Hall's Bismarck attorney, Jackie Stebbins, told the judge that Hall is not a danger or a flight risk.

"He is not an antagonist, and I believe he is doing something important to him, his culture, and exercising his First Amendment rights," she said.

Iron Eyes, a Standing Rock Sioux Tribe member, Fort Yates attorney and political newcomer challenging two-term Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer for North Dakota's lone House set, said he rarely drives the Suburban - his main ride is a white minivan - and didn't realize the tabs had expired in August. He updated the tabs later Friday afternoon, he said.

Meanwhile, an arrest warrant remained active for Amy Goodman, an independent journalist from Democracy Now! who was charged in the same complaint as Hall after she documented the Sept. 3 incident.

Baher Azmy, legal director for the nonprofit Center for Constitutional Rights, called the charges against Goodman "an attempt to repress this important political movement by silencing media coverage," according to the center's Facebook page. But Preskey said the trespass charges had nothing to do with Goodman being a reporter and that authorities are working to identify others who were involved.

Authorities have arrested 38 people so far in connection with the Dakota Access protests. More than a dozen were slated to appear in court Tuesday on misdemeanor charges including disorderly conduct and preventing arrest.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II of Cannon Ball was scheduled to be among them, but his appearance on disorderly conduct was canceled after he submitted a written not guilty plea on Monday, court records show.