A North Dakota federal judge has told protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline they probably won’t win their lawsuit filed after a violent clash with police last November.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland made the statement after law enforcement agencies filed a motion this week to dismiss the suit filed by opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline. He also did not make an immediate ruling on the motion. But he did deny a request to bar police from using chemical agents and water sprays on the crowds of protesters.
Protesters, said Judge Hovland, “are unlikely to succeed on the merits of their claims.”
The suit contends police used inappropriate force and injured more than 200 protesters and violated their civil rights. Judge Hovland pointed out that the protesters were trespassing during the confrontation and “no reasonable juror could conclude” that officers acted unreasonably.
“The rights of free speech and assembly do not mean, and have never meant, that everyone who chooses to protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline may do so at any time, any place, and under any set of conditions they choose in total disregard of the law,” said the judge. “To allow that to occur would result in anarchy and an end to the rule of law in civilized society.”
An attorney for the protesters called the ruling “disturbing” and said she would appeal.