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A year after two environmental activists claimed responsibility for causing at least US$2.5 million in damage to the Dakota Access Pipeline project in Iowa, the two protesters have gone into hiding, and federal prosecutors have not filed charges against them yet, the Des Moines Register reports.
On July 24, 2017—exactly a year ago, Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya held a news conference and explained what they had done to try to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in the state of Iowa. They said that they had burned at least five pieces of heavy construction machinery in the Buena Vista County. Damages to the equipment have been estimated to exceed US$2.5 million.
Reznicek and Montoya, who had been involved in other protests in the past, said that they also used oxyacetylene cutting torches to damage pipeline valves along the pipeline route in Iowa and in part of South Dakota. The protesters also used tires and gasoline-soaked rags to burn valve sites and electric units along the route of the project that was still in its construction stage at the time of the sabotages.
After the news conference they held last year, the two protesters were arrested, but not for the sabotages to the project. They were arrested by Iowa troopers for having damaged a state-owned sign outside the offices of the Iowa Utilities Board. Reznicek and Montoya were charged with minor offenses for damaging the sign and were fined with fines they haven’t paid yet, the Des Moines Register reports, adding that some people in Iowa are now wondering if the two protesters will face justice for the millions of dollars of damages they claimed to have caused.
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Rachel Scherle, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Des Moines, declined to tell the Des Moines Register last week why criminal charges have not yet been brought against the two protesters, but confirmed that the federal prosecutors haven’t dropped the case.
Frank Cordaro, an activist at the Catholic Workers movement, with which Reznicek and Montoya were involved, told the Des Moines Register that the two women left Des Moines late in September last year, and have “dropped out” to places they are not disclosing.
Theories on why federal charges haven’t been brought yet range from Dakota Access not wanting a trial, to not enough evidence that the two women did what they claimed they did, according to various activists and lawyers who spoke to the Des Moines Register.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.