Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 18, 2023

Standing Rock -- Appeals Court to Hear Excessive Force Lawsuit at Backwater Bridge Tuesday

Standing Rock -- Appeals Court to Hear Excessive Force Lawsuit at Backwater Bridge Tuesday

Update: Federal appeals court hears excessive force, class action lawsuit, for injured at Backwater Bridge at Standing Rock

By Brenda Norrell, Censored News, Sept. 19, 2023

Three hundred water protectors were injured on the night of November 20, 2016, at Backwater Bridge at Standing Rock. Twenty-six were seriously injured and taken by ambulance to nearby hospitals. Guy Dull Knife III was one of them. On Tuesday, an excessive force lawsuit filed against Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier and others will be argued before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

"On the night of November 20-21, 2016, law enforcement shot unarmed, nonviolent water protectors with impact munitions, flash-bang explosives, and freezing blasts of water over the course of ten hours, seriously injuring Appellants and many others," states the federal class-action, civil rights lawsuit Dundon v Kirchmeier.

Wašté Win Young, Water Protector and former Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for Standing Rock, reflected on the significance of the case.

“I was born and raised on Standing Rock. It’s my home. The law enforcement that attacked us were our neighbors. It was surreal. Even now, when I cross that bridge I remember the people who got maimed, fell through ice, sprayed with water and chemicals, injured by those who are supposed to protect us. There are several images imprinted in my mind from November 20, 2016."

"I remember law enforcement indiscriminately aiming water canons at a group of Native American individuals who were praying on their knees, while other law enforcement personnel shot tear gas and projectiles into the crowd where I was standing."

"I nearly choked on the tear gas. It is my hope that the rule of law will prevail against the law enforcement who blatantly disregarded the constitutional and civil rights of hundreds of peaceful protestors," Waste Win Young said.

Photo by Rob Wilson

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