WATCH: Bold Iowa nonviolent action to stop construction on Dakota Access on Iowa farmer Shirley Gerjets’ land on Oct. 29, where eight Water Protectors invited onto Shirley’s land were arrested.



Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa: 515-238-6404,

Three Arrested Stopping Dakota Access Construction on Iowa Landowner’s Property Taken by Eminent Domain to Plead “Not Guilty,” Citing “Climate Emergency” Justification for Trespassing

Bold Iowa #FarmersDefenseCamp established with permission on eminent domain holdout landowner Shirley Gerjets’ property, a first of its kind in Dakota Access pipeline fight

Rockwell City, IA — Three of the eight Water Protectors arrested on Oct. 29 in a nonviolent action to stop construction on the Dakota Access pipeline on farmer Shirley Gerjets’ property will plead “not guilty” to charges of trespassing in Calhoun County court on Nov. 10.

The three “not guilty” plea arrestees — Heather Pearson, of Logan, IA;Emma Stewart of Rockwell City, IA; and Mahmud Fitil, of Omaha, NE  — will argue in court that a “climate emergency,” outlined in a document signed by 188 Iowa climate science faculty from 39 institutions from all over the state, justified their action to stop construction on the pipeline that threatens our land, water and climate. The arrestees intend to offer expert testimony from one or more of the Iowa climate science faculty to support the climate-emergency justification defense.

  • WHAT: NoDAPL Arrestees Plead “Not Guilty” to Trespassing, Cite Climate Emergency Justification
  • WHO: Heather Pearson, of Logan, IA; Emma Stewart of Rockwell City, IA; and Mahmud Fitil, of Omaha, NE
  • WHERE: Calhoun County Courthouse, 416 4th St., Rockwell City, IA
  • WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 10 (Court hearing at 9:30 a.m.; press conference immediately afterwards)

(View the “Climate Emergency” document and affidavit signing, pasted below)

Under Iowa state law, “justification” is a valid defense to charges of trespassing.

All of the Water Protectors arrested on Oct. 29 were invited on Shirley Gerjets’ property with express permission, in the form of a written affidavit from Shirley.

Meanwhile, the Dakota Access pipeline workers and private security personnel were on Shirley’s property only by power of eminent domain — an authority which Shirley is still mounting a legal challenge to, along with other landowners, who are due in court on Dec. 15 to challenge the eminent domain authority. Shirley also had “No Trespassing” signs posted on her property that expressly forbade Dakota Access while permitting invited guests at Bold Iowa’s “Farmers Defense Camp” on her land.

The court will be tasked with determining who is the victim of “trespassing,” when a landowner is actively challenging eminent domain authority granted for a pipeline easement, and yet her expressly invited guests are arrested and charged with “trespassing” on the same land where eminent domain authority is still under judicial review.

Several of those who were arrested appeared to have been physically detained not by Iowa State Patrol, Calhoun County sheriff’s deputies, or other law enforcement, but rather by men wearing yellow jackets believe to be private security hired by Dakota Access.

Were these private security “deputized” by Calhoun County law enforcement, the state of Iowa or some other authority to detain citizens? The court must determine on what authority these security personnel were acting, and whether their actions constituted false imprisonment.

Separately, Iowa landowner and eminent domain holdout Cyndy Coppola and Bold Iowa director Ed Fallon are scheduled to appear in court to plead “not guilty” to trespassing charges on Dec. 14. Coppola and invited guest Fallon were arrested on Coppola’s own land, while Coppola is an active litigant challenging the granting of eminent domain authority for the pipeline easement.

“In Iowa, eminent domain has always been intended strictly for public purposes,” said Bold Iowa director Ed Fallon. “And in 2006, during my last session as a state lawmaker, House and Senate members voted overwhelmingly to further strengthen eminent domain law, in response to the ‘Kelo’ U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Given that amended law, I think our lawsuits make a powerful case that Dakota Access violated the law. Those of us invited onto the land by the property owner have every right to be there.”

To date, more than 2,500 people have signed the Bakken Pipeline Pledge of Resistance, and nearly 200 have been arrested in nonviolent actions to stop construction on the pipeline. The Bakken Pledge is supported by Bold Iowa, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, CREDO Action, and 100 Grannies for a Livable Future.

(View the Bakken Pipeline Pledge of Resistance:

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Iowa Climate Statement 2015 Time for Action

WATCH: Shirley Gerjets signs affidavits expressly inviting Heather, Emma and Mahumd onto her property, and states that Dakota Access construction workers are in fact trespassing without permission on her land.

Affidavit of Shirley Gerjets granting permission for Bold Iowa #FarmersDefenseCamp on her property.
“No Trespassing” sign posted on Shirley Gerjets’ property.

WATCH: The Des Moines Register visits the #FarmersDefenseCamp: 

WATCH: WHO-TV covers the #FarmersDefenseCamp and interviews Shirley Gerjets.

Arrestees released from the Sac City, Iowa jail after the Oct. 29 nonviolent action to stop construction on Dakota Access on Shirley Gerjets' land. (Photo: Mark Hefflinger)
Arrestees released from the Sac City, Iowa jail after the Oct. 29 nonviolent action to stop construction on Dakota Access on Shirley Gerjets’ land. (Photo: Mark Hefflinger)