Groups Point to New Documents Showing TigerSwan Employee Failed to Disclose Affiliation When Seeking License
Thursday, March 29, 2018, Baton Rouge, LA – Today, a broad base of Louisiana advocacy groups opposed to the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, represented by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, argued their petition to intervene in the licensing hearing before the Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners regarding the private security firm TigerSwan LLC. The board ruled against the groups, though that decision will have no bearing on whether it decides to allow TigerSwan to operate in Louisiana in a later hearing. The groups—including 350 New Orleans, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Gulf Restoration Network, L’eau Est La Vie (Water Is Life) Camp, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West—held a press conference following the hearing.
TigerSwan is connected to Energy Transfer Partners, one of the owners in the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline, and has applied to operate in Louisiana—but the advocacy groups say their dangerous conduct across the country makes them unfit to operate in the state of Louisiana. The license was previously denied by the board and has been appealed by TigerSwan.
ETP contracts with private security companies to manage public opposition to its pipeline operations, TigerSwan key among them. TigerSwan is now seeking a license from the Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners (LSBPSE) presumably to support ETP in its attempt to develop the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.
According to various media sources, personal accounts, and leaked internal documents, TigerSwan has engaged in military-style, counter-insurgency operations, using public relations campaigns to disseminate pro-pipeline messaging, deploying infiltrators into communities to gather intelligence. After being retained by ETP in North Dakota, TigerSwan was denied a license to operate there by the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board. Later the board sued TigerSwan for operating without a license in the state.
The groups obtained deposition documents from the licensing board through a public records request that showed a TigerSwan employee seeking a license to operate in the state after TigerSwan had already been turned down but not disclosing she was employed by TigerSwan.
The Louisiana groups sent a letter to the Louisiana State Board in July outlining their concern that TigerSwan’s conduct would threaten the safety, health, and welfare of Louisianans.
For more information, visit CCR’s case page.
“Given its track record, TigerSwan should not be allowed to come into Louisiana and use their military-style tactics to hinder the right of ordinary Louisianans to exercise their First Amendment rights,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Staff Attorney Pamela Spees, who represents the groups in this and other filings and grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana, one of the communities that would be affected by the pipeline. “The board did the right thing in denying them a license. Now that TigerSwan is appealing, these groups have a right to be heard and make sure their concerns are on the record.”
Cherri Foytlin, a member of the Indigenous Women’s Advisory Council for L’eau Est La Vie Water Protector Camp, said, “TigerSwan creates a violent and militarized reality against American citizens who are simply exercising their constitutional right of the people to assemble and to petition ‘for a redress of grievances.’ And worse, they do it for profit. They are filling their pockets with blood money, and, personally, I have no desire to contribute or support their vampire ways. We deserve to be heard, we will be heard, and we say ‘No.’ No to TigerSwan. No to this enemy of our Constitution and of our people.
Atchafalaya Basinkeeper Dean Wilson said, “A company with TigerSwan's record should not be allowed to operate in Louisiana or anywhere else in the country. Their methods and illegal behavior are not compatible with our country's democratic values.”
“As members of the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association - West, we are just trying to do everything we can to improve our Atchafalaya Basin and the way of life we’re accustomed to,” said Jodie Meche, a member of the group. “We shouldn’t have to worry about a company such as TigerSwan doing everything they can to make our lives miserable.”
Said Anne Rolfes, Director of Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “TigerSwan is violent. They support a violent oil company in Energy Transfer Partners. We don't want either of these companies in Louisiana.”
“Inviting in a mercenary firm which likens water protectors to jihadists is reactionary at best and extremely dangerous at worst. We know who is standing against this pipeline, and they are by no means criminals – they are simply trying to protect what they own, and what they love,” said Alicia Cooke of 350 New Orleans.
“Given a lack of oversight of pipeline construction, and numerous violations, people on the water and on the ground have to be able to document and report violations,” said Scott Eustis, Community Science Director of Gulf Restoration Network. “Treating Louisiana residents protecting their water and enforcing the law like criminals is a meaningless exercise. We wish the company would spend more money building a better pipeline, hiring biologists or hiring tribal members to ward against the regular undue damages to our water and culture.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.