August 30, 2017 – After months of failed warrants attempted against the Red Line Salish Sea Facebook page (formerly known as the Bellingham #NoDAPL Coalition), the Whatcom Superior Court judge submitted to the prosecutor’s request, allowing the State to invade the Bellingham #nodapl Redline Salish Sea Facebook profile. Implicating Indigenous water protectors and their allies. Giving permission to search the page will directly impact nearly 1700 people who follow the page.
Many Indigenous grassroots water protectors and their allies stepped up their call to dismiss a third warrant presented by the Whatcom County Prosecutors Department. They went to court, challenging a warrant that would grant the State access to their Facebook page. Unfortunately, it was no surprise that just months after the first and second warrants were quashed, Judge Snyder granted the third warrant against the Red Line Salish Sea Facebook page. For Indigenous peoples, dismissal of their requests in court is not new, it is illustrative of 500 years of US settler colonial rule.
Once the first two warrants did not hold up to scrutiny, the Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office sought help from the US Department of Justice on how to craft the third warrant. This collaboration is the epitome of how local corrupt government works hand in hand with the Trump Administration to curb free speech and any political activity that may be against Trump’s policies. The US Department of Justice used the same method in an attempt to serve a warrant to access the webpage J20 where they sought names of people who attended anti-inauguration events when Trump took office.
In a standing room only courtroom, attendees present were there to show solidarity with the Red Line Salish Sea (Bellingham NoDAPL) and voice opposition to the warrant. Despite the support in favor of quashing the warrant, Judge Snyder showed overwhelming support for the prosecuting attorney, he seemed to have his mind made up even before the hearing. Judge Snyder read from a pre-written statement ruling in favor of the warrant. Judge Snyder granted virtually no privacy protections for Red Line Salish Sea, nor for the thousands of visitors to their page. The defense attorney Michael Brodsky argued that a “search into a political NoDAPL Facebook page is chilling to political speech and is a violation of the: 1st amendment (free speech and right to assemble) and 4th amendment (protection from unlawful searches and seizures) both constitutionally protected rights.” In addition, Brodsky contended that if the warrant was not to be quashed that the “information should be viewed through a third party using Ex-Ante regulation of computer search and seizure protocols” (http://www.jstor.org/stable/2078882…), but the judge denied his request. Further, instead of destroying the non-relevant online information of nearly 1700 Facebook users, the online information would be sealed and stored at the Whatcom County Court. The legal definition for sealing records is as follows: “The public policy of record sealing balances the state’s desire to free citizens from burdens caused by the information contained in state records against the state’s interest to preserve records that may beneficial to the state or its citizens.” (http://www.recordgone.com/articles/…)
Sixty plus water protectors and their allies filed out of the courtroom, and huddled in a circle immediately after the warrant was granted. A Red Line Salish Sea member asked out loud “why didn’t the court request that all of the information gathered through this warrant be destroyed rather than sealed?” The answer to this question is quite obvious. The federal, state and city governments in the United State have a long history of unjustly detaining our political activists, while utilizing U.S. counter terrorism tactics to surveil and target non-violent grassroots organizers, and collude with corporations seeking to extract Indigenous land for capitol gain. The courts decision today is an extension of this behavior, resulting in further erosion of Indigenous treaty rights, and silencing dissent.
During this current administration this court decision affects us all. While this warrant may only be the beginning of a long journey for the Red Line Salish Sea, it has far reaching implications. The Whatcom Superior court is clearly trying to manipulate the masses by demonizing dissent and utilizing the Red Line Salish Sea as a scapegoat.
Investigating and prosecuting Indigenous water protectors and their Facebook activity has become front and center where the state is favoring and protecting dirty fossil fuel corporations. Likewise, this warrant is a systemic collaboration in Whatcom County between law enforcement, elected officials, and the justice system resulting in unfair and unjust legal treatment, and is being used to secure cleansing of opposition against power hungry and extractive companies.
Without a doubt these efforts are directed at silencing public participation in activism. We urge you (Facebook users) to not give into this scare tactic. Do not disassociate yourself with the Redline Salish Sea nor from other political movements. Even though the government, corporations and the justice system are working harder than ever to stir up paranoia, please continue posting on the Redline Salish Sea Facebook page, commenting, sharing, liking or following materials associated with this grassroots movement. You have a responsibility to follow Indigenous leadership during this ugly time, as grassroots organizers, specifically the Red Line Salish Sea are protecting everyone from dismal environmental conditions caused by greedy resource extraction.
The Red Line Salish Sea would like to thank Attorney Michael Brodsky, the Washington State ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation https://www.facebook.com/eff/ and others unnamed for their support to bring justice to this issue. We will continue to stand up for Mother Earth, and for the rights of Indigenous people. And we will persist against corruption in the Deep North (Whatcom County).