Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II expressed gratitude at the not-guilty verdict rendered by a jury for his August 12 arrest on disorderly conduct charges.
“I feel relieved,” Archambault told KFYR-TV after emerging from the Morton County Courthouse in Bismarck on May 31. “This is something that’s been hanging over my head for a long time, for almost a year now. And not knowing when this was ever going to end was kind of an uneasy feeling. And now that it’s done, I’m thankful.”
Tribal Councilman Dana Yellow Fat, arrested with Archambault, was also acquitted, as was Alayna Eagle Shield, a water protector who taught school at the camps.
At least 600 water protectors were arrested over the course of the months-long standoff over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), the 1,172-mile-long, $3.8 billion conduit for up to half a billion barrels of Bakken crude. Archambault, Yellow Fat and other Standing Rock Sioux council members were detained on August 12 during one of the earliest confrontations with police. The pipeline began moving oil on June 1.
Archambault and Yellow Fat testified at their trial that they were trying to ensure the safety of two older women at the site when they were arrested, according to KFYR. The state contended the two men were “pushing back against a line of law enforcement officers in North Dakota,” the Associated Press reported.
"They both wanted to serve as both an example and a protection to the people of that tribe," defense attorney Erica Shively told KFYR.
Simply put, Archambault said, the state did not succeed in convincing the jury that he and Yellow Fat had been breaking the law.
“And I don’t think the state was able to do that,” Archambault said. “That was my opinion. But I had to wait for the jury to let us know they had the same feeling.”