Blog by Lori Glover of the Big Bend Defense Coalition
I now know what it feels like to be “unfree.” My husband Mark was arrested last Friday morning, Jan 19th, and incarcerated overnight in Marfa, TX, for an expired license plate. The same weekend felony charges against Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protester Red Fawn Fallis were rendered. I dared not drive to Marfa to pick Mark up for I was certain the Presidio County Sheriff would fabricate a reason to pull me over, arrest me, and have me serve a year in jail for violating probation.
That night alone with my children, I locked my doors. Where I live, we don’t lock our doors. Would my outcry on Facebook about police harassment be construed as a violation of probation? At any moment blue and red lights could be flashing outside my door. Paranoia? Maybe. But, in December the local police were driving up and down my quiet dead end road twice daily. When out walking, I was stopped by Border Patrol. Is this what it feels like to live in a fascist police state? Is this what it is to lose your freedom?
Last January 14, 2017, I locked-down to a bulldozer in peaceful protest of the construction of an Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) 42 inch gas export pipeline, the Trans-Pecos Pipeline (TPPL) in Far West Texas. ETP, the company who abused Water Protectors at Standing Rock, had destroyed 148 miles of our pristine Chihuahuan Desert and violated our community and private property rights.
I was charged with a felony. The week before Mark had locked down but was only given a misdemeanor.
Today I am serving 6 month deferred adjudication probation after pleading to a Class A Criminal Mischief Misdemeanor. The fines and 6 months probation weren’t fair but a heck of a lot better than the other options they offered. I felt pressured to plea out rather than risk a felony at the whim of a jury in a county full of Trump supporters. Six-months probation seemed like no sweat.
One month into my probation and I realize the so-called “Justice System” can make minding your Ps and Qs almost impossible. From the start, there was conflict of interest. Our local sheriff Danny Dominguez was the security provider for Energy Transfer Partners. His cash-cow contract probably influenced my treatment during arrest. Sheriff Dominguez’s deputies aggressively handcuffed and leg-shackled me, then threw me face-first into the dirt. Dominguez proceeded to violate my 1st Amendment Right to Freedom of Religion by yelling “Do you believe in God” repeatedly. In court, with Dominguez acting as bailiff only 5 feet away, I detailed his abuse to the judge, in front of a full courtroom. Now my family is paying for standing up for our Democratic Liberties.
My grievances are nil compared to thousands of others caught up in our convoluted legal system, the final arm of collusion of corporations and government to suppress the voices of concerned people, like you and me, like Red Fawn Fallis, that bravely stand up to protect the air, land, and water vital to life and to protect rights vital to democracy.
In 2017 DAPL had at least 5 toxic crude oil spills. January 10, 2018, the ETP Rover Pipeline spilled 150,000 gallons of drilling fluid into precious Ohio wetlands, adding to the long list of violations. On the weekend of January 19th, 2018, an ETP security provider incarcerated Mark Glover for a minor traffic infraction. On Monday, January 22, Red Fawn Fallis, accepted a plea deal of two felonies: civil disorder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. In a system determined to convict rather than pursue fairness, determined to oppress and punish in favor of profit, Red Fawn must have felt pleading to two to five years in prison was better than risking 10 years of prison for the truth.
Very little is objective or fair in law and government these days. Money and power pull the strings, tainting the vision of our leaders. The laws have been built to oppress and maintain economic and power disparity. States are passing laws to silence our voices with prison sentences for peacefully protesting and blocking construction of dangerous corporate projects or any commerce including highway traffic. These laws protect corporations like ETP who violate human rights and degrade and pollute our environment. These laws are constructed and supported by our own elected representatives. Our representatives, our police force, our judges, our district attorneys, our system are selling us out. We are cattle in the feedlot folks.
It’s not too late to regain our power. Set aside differences and disbelief and stand together. Native Americans and the African Americans have long lived “unfree.” They continue to suffer the blows of a corrupt, unjust system. It is time to stand firmly with them. It is time to unite, mobilize, and reclaim our freedom.