Members of Denver’s indigenous community will have to wait at least two more weeks to find out the sentencing fate of Red Fawn Fallis, a Denver native who was arrested in October of 2016 during the Standing Rock demonstrations in North Dakota. Fallis traveled to North Dakota to join the stand-off against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but she was arrested upon suspicion of discharging a firearm during a tangle with law enforcement.
Her sentencing hearing was supposed to take place Monday, June 25, but the judge overseeing Fallis’s case, Daniel Hovland, is reportedly ill and had to reschedule the hearing.
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As we reported earlier this year, Fallis and her attorneys accepted a plea deal on January 22, and she pleaded guilty to two felonies: civil disorder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Federal prosecutors agreed to drop a weapons charge, which carried a minimum prison sentence of ten years.
Fallis is the Standing Rock water protector with the most serious charges against her, and at one point faced life in prison. Now, with the plea deal in place, her attorneys are advocating for a sentence of 21 to 27 months, while federal prosecutors are seeking no less than 46 months. Fallis’s attorney, Bruce Ellison, told supporters who’d traveled to Bismarck, North Dakota, on Monday for the hearing that it was likely to be rescheduled for July 10 or 11.
Fallis’s charges inspired a national #FreeRedFawn movement that extended well beyond her family and friends in Denver. On Monday, after news of the sentencing hearing’s postponement, Fallis made a video call to her supporters — including her uncle Glenn Morris, of the American Indian Movement of Colorado — who had gathered at a hotel in Bismarck.
“This was not meant to happen today," she said of the hearing. “Everything happens for a reason. Don’t worry about me. As an Oglala Lakota woman, I am free. I was born free, I live free, and I will die free. I’m going to pray for Judge Hovland, and I ask everyone else to do so, as well.”