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General News    H2'ed 2/4/17

Legitimizing Plunder at Standing Rock Part II

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Donation buttons are sprinkled across each page, and people still freeze to death on the windswept plains.

Let's take a look at the Form 990 from Greenpeace. Form 990 is the IRS return of an organization exempt from income tax. 2015 is not available, but a look at 2014 shows $16,639,863 in salaries and other compensations, $859, 398 for un-named directors and trustees, and $ 1,696,850 for travel. In 2014, $33,462,321 came from contributions and grants.

In "Wrong Kind of Green" (December 2016), Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer "demystify the funding and soft power behind this seemingly organic 'grassroots' movement. The veil is lifted as to the price and profits behind the actions and the movement." It is yet another look at how Big Green acts as the trickster, using youth movements to win hearts and minds and donations that never reach the intended recipients.

North Dakota Looks at Fundraising

It is not surprising that the State of North Dakota has interjected Internet fundraising for Standing Rock into the docket of at least one trial.

On December 19, ten water protectors charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct against the Dakota Access Pipeline were scheduled for a joint jury trial in North Dakota's District Court. The trial and jury selection was postponed until January 31, 2017 when presiding Judge Cynthia Feland learned that not all of the defendants had received evidence from the prosecutor, which included aerial videos and photos of the protest site. 65 jurors were called to the small courtroom on the third floor of the Morton County Courthouse. Approximately 35 showed up along with ten attorneys and the defendants. The proceedings were closed due to space restrictions.

In the complaint, filed by Assistant Morton County State's Attorney Brian D. Grosinger, the defendants were charged with attempting to "obstruct, block, harass, alarm and/or prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from building a permitted access road to DAPL leased property"." on August 11. The alleged offenses took place on Highway 1806 and near mile marker 35. Individual citations ranged from fleeing on foot, to pushing through yellow police tape, pushing an officer, and pushing through a police line. The complaint states, "Objects such as rocks and bottles were thrown at Law Enforcement Officers," but does not specifically name any of the defendants as doing so.

This is the genesis of one of the complaints against water protectors. It is offered in historical context and as a review of where the case stands at this writing. But something else enters this equation. It is a tale as old as time and involves money and the perception of who controls donations obtained through crowd sourced fundraising from legitimate and fraudulent Internet campaigns.

The summary of the proceedings this far and examination of the complete docket offer some context and suggestions of how North Dakota intends to prosecute this case, and more importantly, how the State intends to level potential fines if the defendants are found guilty. The State's brief on this matter raises questions about out of state influences, sophisticated Internet fundraising, and publicity. Who, exactly, are legitimate media and what entities are entitled to collect funds on behalf of the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes?

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill Magazine, the Huffington (more...)

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