Dissenter FeaturedLatest NewsThe Dissenter

Water Protector Still Faces Felony For Confronting Armed DAPL Contractor

Brennon Nastacio, a Standing Rock water protector fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline, disarmed a security contractor who pointed an assault rifle at him and others. Although the contractor was arrested, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department declined to charge the contractor. They have, however, slapped Nastacio with a felony for “terrorizing” the contractor.

Morton County has issued an arrest warrant and placed Nastacio on a “Most Wanted” list.

While hundreds of people face charges after arrests while resisting the pipeline, Nastacio is one of few water protectors dealing with a severe charge; in his case, a class “C” felony.

“It gives me mixed emotions and mixed feelings about Morton County and the oaths that they took [to protect and serve] the people,” Nastacio told Shadowproof.

Nastacio said he watched Thompson point a gun at him with his finger on the trigger. He pointed the gun at multiple people. Nobody knew what his intentions were. The incident was captured on video, and he believes he helped prevent the incident from ending with any fatalities.

“I’m just confused because I was protecting the people, and I told Kyle Thompson as well that nothing would happen to him if he put his gun down,” Nastacio added.

Nastacio must raise funds for a legal defense and has obtained a lawyer. That effort has not been without issues.

After his GoFundMe page was updated to mention funds would go toward “attorney consultant fees,” GoFundMe suspended the account for the representative who launched the page and informed the representative they could not raise funds for “attorney fees for anyone accused of a crime.” Even though there are various GoFundMe campaigns that request funds for bail and attorney fees, GoFundMe would not restore Nastacio’s page or access to it.

The Sacred Stone camp, where Nastacio is living, is on treaty land and he could be arrested by federal police with the Bureau of Indian Affairs at any moment, as long as the charge is pending.

On October 27, 2016, Kyle Thompson, who had a “DAPL security” identification card, drove his truck toward the main encampment. He had an AR-15 on the passenger side of his truck. Water protectors followed the truck. Thompson left the truck and was pursued by protectors, who demanded he put down his weapon.

Nastacio did not mention a knife in his interview with Shadowproof, but in a separate interview for Native News Online, he said, “My son came to camp with me in August. All I could think about was his and everyone at camp’s safety. That’s why I went towards Kyle when folks called me, even though all I had to defend myself and everyone was a knife.”

Thompson backed into a nearby body of water, and Nastacio followed while talking to him. According to Nastacio, he told Thompson nothing would happen to him if he put down his gun or gave him his gun. He wanted to protect everyone and prevent any incident, where law enforcement might shoot him because he was wielding a rifle.

Eventually, Thompson handed his weapon over to Bureau of Indian Affairs officers, who apprehended him.

Water protector Ryan Redhawk filmed the incident. In an interview for The Young Turks, Redhawk noted Thompson was dressed in attire that made him look like a water protector. Thompson initially suggested he was “there to support the cause.”

Thompson later changed his story and said he was there to document equipment that was set on fire. However, there are numerous questions related to what Thompson was doing that day, including why documenting equipment would require someone to drive at a high speed down a road with an assault weapon.

Dakota Access will not take responsibility for Thompson. Vicki Granado, a spokeswoman for Dakota Access, told the Bismarck Tribune that Thompson was working for Knightsbridge Risk Management, which apparently owned equipment that was burned. (It is apparently unknown who set fire to the equipment.)

Nastacio said he believes there have been multiple infiltrators at the camp intent to “instigate things,” whether they have guns or not. At least three people were ousted in the final months of 2016

Individuals suspected of supporting the water protectors have faced threats of violence in addition to police harassment. Masked men were caught on video in December accosting water protectors, as they pledged, “North Dakota people are going to fuck you up.”

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."