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Articles by Julia Shipley

Julia Shipley is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School's Arts and Culture M.A. program and is currently a Postgraduate Reporting Fellow with Columbia Journalism Investigations.

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A week after FBI agents ransacked her bedroom in August 2017, Ruby Montoya sat before a videographer. Just steps away from the rooms where FBI agents had hauled dozens of bags and boxes from the Des Moines Catholic Worker House where Montoya lived, the 27-year-old addressed his questions with a preternatural calm.

“You really put your life on the line. How do you feel about the whole ordeal?” he asked.  

“I don’t have kids,” she explained. “I don’t have any obligations like that, and I saw a necessity to act in a different way that I believe is more effective.” 

That “way” entailed a series of arsons that Montoya and her friend and Catholic Worker housemate, Jessica Reznicek, committed along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline a few months earlier. Beginning on election night 2016 and continuing intermittently through early May 2017, the women ignited oil-soaked rags to try to destroy heavy machinery. They also lit acetylene torches to burn holes in the 1,172-mile-long pipeline, which at the time was under construction but nearing completion. 

Though the women were never apprehended by law enforcement while taking ... Read more

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