Pipeline protesters cite Catholic Worker movement as inspiration

Four Necessity Valveturners: Catholic Workers charged with damaging Minnesota pipeline in climate protest

Feb 6, 2019 by Brian Roewe in NCROnline

Allyson Polman, a Catholic Worker from Denton, Texas, attempts to shut off a valve for an oil pipeline operated by Enbridge Inc. at a valve site in Itasca County, Minnesota Feb. 4. (Courtesy of Four Necessity)

Four Catholic Workers were charged with property damage after they attempted earlier this week to shut off valves on a northern Minnesota pipeline as part of a non-violent action to curtail “the imminent and irreversible damage being done to the climate” by the fossil fuel industry.

The group, calling themselves the “Four Necessity Valve Turners,” appeared Wednesday in Itasca County District Court, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Two days earlier, they were arrested after they broke into a fenced valve site and attempted to turn off emergency shut-off valves for two pipelines operated by Enbridge Inc., a Canadian energy company that operates an extensive network of more than 200,000 miles of crude oil and natural gas pipelines across North America.

One of the pipelines targeted was Line 3, which has been a focal point for environmental demonstrations since an extensive renovation project was announced that would increase the amount of tar sands oil — which emit greater amounts of greenhouse gas emissions than typical crude oil — the pipeline could transport. 

At the arraignment hearing, the four were each charged with a felony count of aiding and abetting attempted damage to pipeline property and a fourth degree misdemeanor for criminal property damage. The maximum sentence for the felony count is five years in prison or a $10,000 fine, and for the misdemeanor 90 days in prison or a $1,000 fine.

Embedded rich media on Twitter

https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-1&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1093227065309048832&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ncronline.org%2Fnews%2Fearthbeat%2Fcatholic-workers-charged-damaging-minnesota-pipeline-climate-protest&siteScreenName=ncronline&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550pxFrom Four Necessity Valve Turner’s Twitter feed, Feb. 6, 2019

The individuals charged were Brenna Cussen Anglada, of the St. Isidor Catholic Worker Farm, in Cuba City, Wisconsin; Michelle Naar Obed, of the Hilegard House Catholic Worker, in Duluth, Minnesota; Allyson Polman, a Catholic Worker from Denton, Texas; and Daniel Yildirim, of the Evening Star Farm in Viroqua, Wisconsin.

All four were released under their own recognizance. The next court date is set for Feb. 19.

In a Feb. 4 press release, the members of the Catholic Worker movement said they acted “in solidarity with the most vulnerable worldwide who suffer the great impact from climate change. The Four Necessity Valve Turners believe it is time to take personal responsibility for preventing the dangerous expansion of the oil industry, because governments and regulators have failed to do so.”

Added Naar Obed, “This small act of healing our earth is riding on the wings of all the ancestors, angels, saints, and cloud of witnesses who will continue these efforts by changing hearts and minds allowing for sustainable, livable, and just technologies for the good of all.”

Around noon on Feb. 4, the Valve Turners used bolt cutters to enter the valve site. Before attempting to shut off the valves themselves, they said they contacted Enbridge as a safety precaution and also offered the company a chance to close the valves on its own. As they worked on the valves in several inches of snow, the group sang hymns, placed sacred items around the site such as palms and rosaries and hung a banner reading “The time is now for unprecedented and urgent action” — a reference to a report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Released in October 2018, the IPCC report stated that a “rapid and far-reaching” transformation of the global economy was necessary to limit warming to 1.5 C, a point the world is on track to reach within the next two decades, and at which the most dangerous impacts of climate change would become far more severe, particularly for poor and vulnerable communities.

The Valve Turners livestreamed the action to their Facebook page, though it has since been removed by Facebook. Portions of the video were later posted on other social media platforms. 

Four Necessity Valve Turners — Enbridge Line 4 Shutdown

https://www.youtube.com/embed/2JETsy7yUDA?wmode=opaque&controls=From Four Necessity Valve Turner’s YouTube channel, published Feb. 5, 2019

In the video, the Valve Turners said that Enbridge remotely shut down one of the valves they targeted. In a statement, Enbridge did not address whether a valve was turned off, saying only that the group’s “reckless and dangerous” pipeline tampering “did not result in the release of any product.”

“The people involved claimed to be protecting the environment, but they did the opposite. Their actions put themselves, first responders, neighboring communities and landowners at risk. While, we respect the rights of individuals to safely express their views on the energy we all use, we take these matters very seriously and support the prosecution of all those involved,” the Calgary, Alberta, company said.

Leutgeb Munson told NCR that the Valve Turners “have certainly taken action that may look dramatic, but really in the grand scheme of things, dramatic times call for a dramatic response, and we aren’t seeing that from other government and regulatory bodies.”

For the past year, Enbridge has been the focus of numerous protests since it proposed its Line 3 project, a $2.9 billion effort to replace 364 miles of pipeline transporting Canadian tar sands oil across three U.S. states. Construction on the Line 3 project was expected to begin early this year, with service to start later in 2019.

climate banner c.jpg

Four Catholic Workers hung a banner calling for “unprecedented and urgent action” on climate change hangs on a fence of a valve site for energy company Enbridge Inc. in Itasca County, Minnesota, where they attempted to turn off valves for several oil pipelines. (Courtesy of Four Necessity)

Two months before its approval in June 2018, participants at a Catholic Worker retreat staged a demonstration at a pipeline storage facility in Carlton County, Minnesota, with 27 people risked arrest for trespassing. The Catholic Workers and other activists have argued that in addition to contributing to climate change, the project endangers lands sacred to local indigenous people.

In August 2018, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reached an agreement with Enbridge that allows the company to lay new pipeline on its land in exchange for the route avoiding wild rice lakes that Anishinaabe people consider sacred and where they have treaty rights to fish, gather and hunt.

[Brian Roewe is an NCR staff writer. His email address is broewe@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianRoewe.]

Michael J. O’Loughlin, August 04, 2017, America Magazine,

Two women who admitted recently to vandalizing parts of a controversial oil pipeline say their actions should be viewed through the lens of Catholic anti-war protests—and that climate change is the next chapter of that movement.

Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya both live in a Des Moines Catholic Worker community named after Philip Berrigan, a one-time Catholic priest and anti-war activist who had engaged in acts of civil disobedience such as burning draft cards and vandalizing nuclear warheads.ADVERTISEMENT

They announced during a press conference last month that they were responsible for vandalism that delayed construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, which on June 1 began transporting oil from North Dakota to Illinois. Because it cuts through land sacred to Native Americans and is located near water sources, the nearly $4 billion project inspired months of protests that ended last winter when activists wereforcibly removed from their camps.

Both women were part of those protests but carried out the pipeline actions on their own. Now, both await trial and could face years in prison.

“We chose to take these actions after seeing the continued desecration of the Earth, which we are to be stewards of,” Ms. Montoya told America.ADVERTISEMENT

They say they began their protest on Election Day by burning several pieces of construction equipment. Over the next few months, they used oxyacetylene torches to cut through pipeline valves and used gasoline-soaked rags to burn electrical equipment. Their actions delayed construction by several weeks, and they stopped when they learned the oil flow had begun.“We chose to take these actions after seeing the continued desecration of the Earth, which we are to be stewards of,” Ms. Montoya told America.Tweet this

They held the press conference admitting to the vandalism to inspire others to act.ADVERTISEMENT

“Coming forward was really an empowering moment for us to share with others in the movement a diversity of tactics, tactics that we feel can be embraced by others,” Ms. Reznicek said.

Both women have been active in other protest movements, including Occupy Wall Street and anti-war activism in the Middle East. They both said their activism is informed by their faith—albeit in slightly different ways.

Ms. Montoya attended Catholic schools as a child and she has questioned both her faith and her church. But today she says she is rooted in the Catholic tradition and that Scripture inspires her social justice work.ADVERTISEMENT

“The Catholic Worker has given me the opportunity to walk in a way that has integrity with the scriptures and with what Christ has taught,” she said.

The Des Moines Catholic Worker movement does not have direct ties to the church, and it has clashed with the Diocese of Des Moines, including over the group’s support for women’s ordination. More recently, Frank Cordaro, a former priest who is part of the Catholic Worker community, urged bishops to be more forceful in their condemnation of drone warfare.“I realized that Catholic Workers were at the forefront of the struggle, and not just during Occupy,” she recalled.Tweet this

Ms. Reznicek was also raised Catholic, but she said she drifted away from the church as a teenager. When she returned to Des Moines and immersed herself in the local activist community, she was introduced to a side of Catholicism that had been unfamiliar to her.

“I realized that Catholic Workers were at the forefront of the struggle, and not just during Occupy,” she recalled.

She read about leftist Catholic activists, including Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement who is now being considered for sainthood, as well as her collaborator Peter Maurin and other activist figures such as Father Berrigan. That led her to join one of Des Moines’ Catholic Worker houses, where she helped run a soup kitchen and day shelter.

“I began to understand through the work that we do with people everyday on the streets how it’s a microcosm of a greater problem we have culturally in our society,” she said. “There are people everyday out on the streets fighting to feed their children, feed themselves, clothe themselves.”

She then moved on to resistance work—the Berrigan House is devoted to social action—which led her to plan and undertake the pipeline action.

“I took the model of the Plowshares movement and tried to make it my own,” she said. At 36, Ms. Reznicek said she does not identify as Catholic today, but that her activism is guided by a “deep, deep faith in God” and Christian principles.

The Plowshares movement refers to anti-war protesters in the 1980s who took their inspiration from the prophet Isaiah. He spoke of beating “swords into plowshares.” Several members of the movement that included brothers Philip and Daniel Berrigan, dubbed the Plowshares Eight, broke into a weapons facility and damaged the nosecones of several nuclear warheads in 1980.

Ms. Reznicek and Ms. Montoya say they represent “the next generation” of that movement, a claim supported by at least one of the late priest’s disciples. Anna Brown, a political science professor and director of the social justice program at St. Peter’s University who also co-editeda book about Daniel Berrigan, said the pair’s actions fit neatly within the Plowshare tradition.

She told America that climate change makes drastic change necessary because it is leading to “mass violence against the Earth.” This includes “mass suffering of its inhabitants and even potentially mass death to the same magnitude that you would have if you were to make use of the nuclear weapons.”

The goal of the anti-nuclear weapon movement and the environmental movement, she said, is the same.

“Because at the base of these movements is always saying yes to life and trying to discern what is it that is stamping out that life, destroying that life, killing that life,” Ms. Brown said. “Pope Francis’ ‘Laudato Si’’ may encourage folks in the Catholic communities to awaken to the reality of what we’re actually doing [to the planet] on a daily basis.”

Critics have said Ms. Reznicek and Ms. Montoya engaged in violence and should thus be held accountable. Writing in theWashington Examiner, for example, Tom Rogan called them “violent criminals” and “low-level terrorists” who put the safety of construction workers at risk.

The pair rejects that characterization.

“Both myself and Jessica acted safely,” Ms. Montoya said. “The fires that we started, those were very contained. These were empty construction sites, they had already desecrated the trees by clear-cutting. There was a lot of prairie land and that was all cleared. There were no workers on site at any time.”

Ms. Brown, who was onceprofiled in The New York Times for her own social justice activism, said that historically these types of actions have always led to criticism, sometimes from across the political spectrum.

“When people are out in the streets dying, or when people can’t get health care and they die, or when people are dying for lack of food, why don’t people get upset at that kind of violence? Why is it this symbolic violence that is so upsetting to people?” she asked.RELATED STORIES

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Why is climate change a moral issue?James Martin, S.J.

As for the charges of property destruction, she said people must look more closely at what was being destroyed—and what it represents.

“They are almost like an embodied form of violence. They always represent a system, they represent powers within that system, they have already inflicted violence because they have stolen so many of society’s resources that could have gone to life-affirming means,” she said.

As for the arson committed by the pair, the Jesuits might be partly responsible. Ms. Montoya said that as she and Ms. Reznicek planned the protests, she had been reading about the founder of the order and came across a quote that is closely associated with him.

“During the time period Jessica and I were taking these actions, I remember reading something about St. Ignatius of Loyola which said that he would sign many of his letters, ‘Go and set the world ablaze,’” she recalled. “That was really inspiring to me.”

Correction August 5, 2007, 1:04 p.m., EDT: The Des Moines Catholic Worker house was misidentified as the Daniel Berrigan house; it is the Phil Berrigan House. 

Meet the Two Catholic Workers Who Secretly Sabotaged the Dakota Access Pipeline to Halt Construction

STORYJULY 28, 2017Watch Full ShowListenMedia OptionsThis is viewer supported news. Please do your part today.DONATE

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Two Iowa-based Catholic Worker activists revealed they secretly carried out multiple acts of sabotage and arson in order to stop construction of the controversial $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. We speak with Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya about how they set fire to heavy machinery being used to construct the pipeline. They say their actions were inspired by the anti-nuclear Plowshares Movement which used nonviolent direct action to target nuclear warheads and military installations.

Update: On August 11th, the FBI raided the Catholic Worker home in Des Moines where Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya live.


Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Iowa, where two Catholic Workers have revealed they secretly carried out multiple acts of sabotage and arson in recent months in order to stop construction of the controversial $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya said that on Election Day last year they set fire to five pieces of heavy machinery being used to construct the pipeline. The two then taught themselves how to destroy empty pipeline valves, and moved up and down the pipeline’s length, destroying the valves and delaying construction for weeks. They say their actions were inspired by the anti-nuclear Plowshares Movement, which used nonviolent direct action to target nuclear warheads and military installations.

On Monday, they spoke out outside the Iowa Utilities Board office. This begins with Jessica Reznicek.

JESSICA REZNICEK: We are speaking publicly to empower others to act boldly, with purity of heart, to dismantle the infrastructures which deny us our rights to water, land and liberty. We, as civilians, have seen the repeated failures of the government, and it is our duty to act with responsibility and integrity, risking our own liberty for the sovereignty of us all.

RUBY MONTOYA: Some may view these actions as violent, but be not mistaken. We acted from our hearts and never threatened human life nor personal property. What we did do was fight a private corporation that has run rampantly across our country seizing land and polluting our nation’s water supply.

AMY GOODMAN: And that was Ruby Montoya, along with Jessica Reznicek, speaking Monday. After delivering their statement, the two used a hammer and crowbar to try to pull off the letters of the Iowa Utilities Board sign in protest of its recent decision to reject a lawsuit by environmental groups to revoke the pipeline’s state permit and force it to shut down. The women were arrested and jailed overnight for destroying the sign, and are now facing possible arrest at any time for committing multiple acts of sabotage.

I spoke to Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya earlier this week. I began by asking Ruby to talk about what they did and why they’re coming forward now.

RUBY MONTOYA: So, on election night, we went to a DAPL easement site in Buena Vista County, and we saw over six or seven pieces of heavy machinery there. And we went with our supplies, and we filled these coffee canisters up with gasoline and oil. We placed those coffee canisters on the inside of the cabs of these heavy machinery, on the seats, and we pierced those coffee canisters so that the flammable liquids would spread. We then lit matches and—in efforts to make those machines obsolete.

We acted after having exhausted all other avenues of political process and resistance to this petroleum pipeline that, to my knowledge, is the largest in the United States as far as the capacity that it is able to carry the oil.

AMY GOODMAN: Jessica Reznicek, how did you know where this pipeline was?

JESSICA REZNICEK: Well, I knew exactly where this pipeline was, because it—it’s not more than 15 miles from this studio. It runs right here through the county I was born in, Polk County, Iowa. I definitely took a lot of inspiration from what I saw up at Standing Rock. But Iowa is impacted greatly by this, and my home city’s drinking water is to be destroyed when this pipeline breaks. And so it’s not a matter of having to find it. It’s right—it found me.

AMY GOODMAN: So, the investigation into the damage to the pipeline has been ongoing. But, apparently, the authorities did not have leads into who committed these acts of sabotage. So, Jessica, why did you decide, you and Ruby decide, to come forward on Monday?

JESSICA REZNICEK: Well, I guess one of the main reasons is Ruby and I felt very disheartened by the fact that oil is now flowing through the pipeline. Obviously, we cannot pierce through empty valves anymore. They are not empty. We halted construction up and down the line for several weeks, turning into months. And we’re now at the phase where we have to deal with the reality that this pipeline—that we failed, as resistance here in Iowa goes. And now oil is flowing through it, and there’s really nothing more to do now than come forward and let the public know that—and continue this public discourse about what that means, where we’re heading, and the consequences of it.

AMY GOODMAN: Ruby, you talked about beginning this action of sabotage on election night. Why the significance of this day, Election Day? And then talk about what happened in the ensuing weeks, what exactly you did.

RUBY MONTOYA: Well, Election Day, it was very serendipitous. It just happened by coincidence. I remember, the next day, we were with the Mississippi can—Mississippi Stand Caravan. And other comrades had crawled into the Dakota Access pipeline and occupied it for over 15 hours, at least. So I remember showing up there at the Des Moines River boring site and still being elated by the action that we took the previous night, because we knew that through the actions of Mississippi Stand, they had halted the boring process temporarily, and through the actions that Jessica and I took the evening prior, we had also halted construction temporarily. So that felt really great, and we saw the effectiveness of these peaceful means to take fire and other materials to these empty structures of metal to disable them so that they could not continue their process of destruction.

As time went on, we saw that construction continued and that pipe was being put into the ground. And so our only viable means was to somehow obstruct this pipe. And that material is made of steel, five-eighth-inch steel. And we had to figure out something that would melt it or somehow make it obsolete. So we began to look for things that would cut through that amount of steel, and that turned out to be oxygen and acetylene, which burns at like over 2,000 degrees, and that melts steel. So, after acquiring that knowledge, we proceeded and found many empty valves. All of the valves were empty. And we began, first in Mahaska County, Iowa, piercing through a valve there. And later, we continued, until we ran out of supplies, hitting multiple valve sites.

AMY GOODMAN: What are the significance of these valves? What do they do?

RUBY MONTOYA: They are access points to shut off the flow of oil. So, I know that that occurred with a group up in the tar sands area of Alberta, Canada. So, you can physically shut these valves off if there is oil in them. But since there was not oil in them, this is the part of the pipeline that is exposed. The rest is underground and underneath our waterways. So, with this steel exposed, instead of having to operate a bulldozer and try to dig it up, it was easier to find these exposed valves and cut underneath the seams of these valves, because these valves have seams. And if you cut underneath the seams, it’s a lot more effective in terms of them having to dig it up further and costing them more money and more time and pushing back that completion date, until—our goal was for them to exhaust their financial means so that they would stop with this pipeline.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, Jessica Reznicek, there are many who would say that destroying private property like this is violence. Your response to this?

JESSICA REZNICEK: I completely disagree. I think that the oil being taken out of the ground and the machinery that does it and the infrastructure which supports it, that this is violent. This is—these tools and these mechanisms that industry and corporate—corporate power and government power have all colluded together to create, this is destructive, this is violent, and it needs to be stopped.

And we never at all threatened human life. We never at all—and, actually, we’re acting in an effort to save human life, to save our planet, to save our resources. And nothing at any point was ever done by Ruby nor I in anything outside of peaceful, deliberate and steady loving hands.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain what Plowshares actions are, for those who don’t know? You’re both Catholic Workers, Jessica and Ruby, living at the Catholic Worker House in Des Moines. Can you explain what the Catholic Worker movement is all about?

JESSICA REZNICEK: We have a rich tradition, started by Dorothy Day in the 1930s. And we have a rich tradition both in assisting underprivileged people in our communities, via soup kitchens, hospitality, shelters for homeless people who we live with in our communities, and we also have—on the flipside of that, we also recognize the resistance that is needed to help bring underprivileged people back up to the same level as the people who are taking the money from them.

And so, in essence, Ruby and I focus on the resistance aspect here in the Des Moines Catholic Worker. And we have followed suit, and I believe that we are inspired by Mr. Phil Berrigan—the house that we live in is named after. And we do understand the need to dismantle infrastructure when it poses a threat to human life and liberty.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let me talk about and ask you about that tradition of the Berrigan brothers, of Father Dan Berrigan and Philip Berrigan, who helped launch the international anti-nuclear Plowshares movement. Father Dan and seven others poured blood and hammered on warheads at a GE nuclear missile plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, in 1980. I asked Father Dan Berrigan about this during an interview I did with him around, oh, a decade ago.

DANIEL BERRIGAN: We went in with the workers at the changing of the shift and found there was really no security worth talking about, a very easy entrance. In about three minutes, we were looking at doomsday. The weapon was before us. It was an unarmed warhead about to be shipped to Amarillo, Texas, for its payload. So it was a harmless weapon as of that moment. And we cracked the weapon. It was very fragile. It was made to withstand the heat of re-entry into the atmosphere from outer space, so it was like eggshell, really. And we had taken as our model the great statement of Isaiah 2: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares.” So we did it, poured our blood around it and stood in a circle, I think, reciting the Lord’s Prayer until Armageddon arrived, as we expected.

AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, Father Dan Berrigan and his brother Philip Berrigan and others, the Catonsville Nine, in 1968, burned the draft files of people in Catonsville, Maryland, using napalm that was used in Vietnam. Do you consider this a Plowshares action?

JESSICA REZNICEK: It has been characterized by Ruby and I as what we call a rolling Plowshares, yes. An extended Plowshares action, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: At the end of your statement on Monday—and you were standing in front of a Iowa Utilities Board office—can you explain its significance and why you then turned around and started ripping off the metal letters from that sign, as the—as the police moved in to arrest you?

RUBY MONTOYA: The Iowa Utilities Board here in Iowa granted the Dakota Access LLC permits, using eminent domain, as a public utility, for this pipeline. So, the company was allowed by the Iowa Utilities Board to come and seize land from farmers to put this petroleum pipeline underneath their fields. So, the Iowa Utilities Board here in Iowa was key, because Dakota Access pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners were able to sidestep the legal requirement of an environmental impact statement. So, each state had its governing body to either grant or deny these permits to build this pipeline. And here in Iowa, that was the Iowa Utilities Board. And it was granted under the guise, under the lie, of a public utility. And this past Friday, they released another decision, yet again doing the wrong thing and ruling in favor of the Dakota Access pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners. So, that’s why we were there.

There have been many protests, vigils, hunger strikes in front of that building, with no response; public commentary hearings, with no response from this board. Geri Huser, who’s the head of this board—it’s a three-person board—she’s actually under investigation for corruption. And so, the list goes on and on as to why the Iowa Utilities Board is culpable in the allowance of the Dakota Access pipeline to come through Iowa. So we couldn’t have picked a better place to release our statement. And with trying to remove all the letters from the Iowa Utilities Board, we don’t feel that they represent Iowans, nor do they have their best interests in mind. Clearly, time and time again, they are siding with these oil companies, because of corruption.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Ruby, overall, the Dakota Access pipeline, what it means to you? Did you and Jessica go to the resistance camps at the time of the last year during the height of the resistance?

RUBY MONTOYA: I actually met Jessica on the Mississippi River. Prior to that, I was a preschool teacher in Boulder, Colorado. And I found out about the Dakota Access pipeline. I read about what they were intending to do, to put these dirty petroleum pipes underneath our major waterways here in the United States. And I was aghast by their intentions. So I quit my job, and I went to Standing Rock. And I was greatly comforted by the amount of people that were there, the amount of helping hands ready to do resistance work and community work. And I was following the Dakota Access pipeline so closely that I found out about Jessica Reznicek starting an encampment on the Mississippi River bore site. And I went there because I knew that there were not a lot of people there.

AMY GOODMAN: Jessica, how did you get involved with the Catholic Worker movement?

JESSICA REZNICEK: I met the Catholic Workers. They were here in Des Moines, when they were at the forefront of the local Occupy movement happening here at the Iowa State Capitol. Originally, I quit college. I dropped out of college and went to Zuccotti Park to Occupy in New York, received a call from a close cousin of mine here in Des Moines and said, “Hey, they’re occupying Des Moines right now. Something like 30-some people just got arrested yesterday.” And so I came back to Des Moines and got plugged into every—all the organizing that was going on here.

Around the caucuses at the time, there was a lot happening here. And time and time again, I looked at who were the key leadership roles in that movement, although it was a leaderless movement, obviously, but it was the Catholic Workers. And I thought, “Ah, I should really check these folks out.” And I started, and I came—started volunteering at the house—we have a soup kitchen that’s open five days a week—and began to volunteer five days a week, moved in, and just, really, it’s been quite the journey ever since.

AMY GOODMAN: So, at this point, you have not been charged with anything but pulling off the letters of the sign where you were on Monday when you made your statement.

RUBY MONTOYA: That is correct, yes.

JESSICA REZNICEK: However, while we were incarcerated overnight for that criminal mischief charge, we did have federal agents pull us out of our cells individually, one at a time, and to address the statement. Ruby and I, of course, said that we did not want to cooperate or communicate with them, and we were then released back into our cells. So, it has—I mean, they have let us know that they are aware.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya, two Catholic Worker activists who admitted earlier this week to carrying out multiple acts of sabotage against sections of the Dakota Access pipeline that were under construction in Iowa.

This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. When we come back, we look at immigration and undocumented immigrants who were arrested. Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, is currently in El Salvador. Stay with us.The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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