Two women who’ve claimed responsibility for vandalizing the Dakota Access Pipeline in Iowa and other states say federal agents have raided the Des Moines Catholic Worker House where they’re staying.
A spokesman for 27-year-old Ruby Montoya and 35-year-old Jessica Reznicek says about 30 agents arrived at the home before sunrise.
“Basically they woke up to agents banging on the door that they were coming in and as they opened the door guns were drawn and they were telling them to exit the house,” says Alex Cohen, part of the “Mississippi Stand” group that sought to halt the pipeline’s extension from southeast Iowa across the river into Illinois.
Cohen was not at the house in Des Moines that was raided this morning, but he says the two women say they were kept on the front porch as agents conducted the search inside.
“For hours and hours and hours, they denied them access into the house, so they’re not sure what was going on during that time and they also wouldn’t let them observe the search to see what was being taken,” Cohen says. “And they also denied them access to the warrant to see why they even had legal grounds to be there.”
Cohen says the women consider some of the materials seized during the raids to be protected by the attorney-client privilege and, now that it’s in the hands of federal authorities, it will hurt the chances at a fair trial. On July 24, Montoya and Reznicek told reporters they were responsible for burning machinery at pipeline construction sites and destroying valves along the completed pipeline in Iowa and South Dakota.
The two women then took out crowbars, pried letters off a sign at Iowa Utilities Board headquarters and were arrested for vandalism. Cohen says the two refuse to speak with federal authorities and are waiting to testify in court.
“Jessica and Ruby’s spirits are high and they stand firm in their convictions,” Cohen says.
Both women, who remain free on bond, say they were fighting a “private corporation” and “never threatened human life nor personal property” with their actions.