Keystone XL: Defending the Right to Protest

WELC and our partners at the ACLU of Montana and the Bahr Law Offices have reason to suspect the state of Montana is planning to crack down on people peacefully protesting the Keystone XL pipeline with the same invasive and military techniques used against Standing Rock demonstrators. There, law enforcement agencies used excessive force, unlawfully spied on protestors, and used intimidation and military tactics – including tear gas, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, and water cannons – against people exercising their First Amendment right to protest.

Our case outlines how Montana Disaster and Emergency Services and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation violated Montanans’ Constitutional right to know by failing to release documents to the ACLU of Montana following a request in February 2018. The agencies have provided some documents, but they were so heavily redacted they were unintelligible. Furthermore, the agencies unlawfully imposed “gag orders” on the documents they did provide, which prohibits the ACLU of Montana from sharing any of the information in those documents with the public. Federal documents obtained by the ACLU show that federal, state, local, and private companies have already discussed ways to quash protest activities concerning Keystone XL.

We’re asking the Montana agencies to immediately release the requested records and lift the gag order so the documents can be made public, as they should have been from the beginning. President Trump approved construction of the KXL Pipeline as one of his first acts in office in March 2017. Though legal challenges brought by Indigenous tribes and environmental groups are pending, some preparation for construction has already begun.

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