Recently we have observed a disturbing increase in the
criminalization of journalists and
activists covering the events at the Dakota Access Pipeline and
elsewhere. If you haven’t read about it yet, here is what has gone
down so far:
• On September 3rd, Amy Goodman from Democracy
Now! was on location at the DAPL
construction site when private security forces instigated a violent
confrontation with peaceful water protectors. She was not involved
in the confrontation and she was not arrested, but for simply being
present and reporting on the incident she was
charged with misdemeanor rioting, which would have landed her a year
in prison. Yesterday the presiding judge dropped the charges.
• Actress Shailene Woodley, who had been camping at Standing Rock
and reporting what she saw over social media (her Twitter account
alone has 1.2 million followers), was arrested on October 10th while
walking back to her RV after attending a prayer action. She is being
charged with criminal trespassing, which carries a $3,000 fine and
60 days in jail, if sentenced.
• Award-winning documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg was
documenting a direct action at a section of TransCanada’s Keystone
Pipeline in Walhalla, ND, where activists turned off the pipes using
the emergency shut-off valves. This was part of a multi-state
protest at other oil pipelines in Minnesota and Washington, in
solidarity with the people at Standing Rock. Though she did not
participate in the action, she was arrested and is being charged
with 3 felony counts: “conspiracy to theft of property,” “conspiracy
to theft of services,” and “conspiracy to tampering with or damaging
a public service.” If convicted, the cumulative prison time for
these sentences would be 45 years (more than Edward Snowden faces
for whistleblowing on the NSA!). There is a petition to drop all
charges here: //www.howtoletgomovie.com/
• 4 journalists from the alternative media
outlet Unicorn Riot have been arrested since last month
while covering various direct actions. All four were strip-searched
unnecessarily after their arrest, and they are being charged with
criminal trespassing. There are more details about their arrests
These are only the high-profile cases, and these are only pertaining
to the DAPL. There are many more lesser-known activists, journalists, and filmmakers in other social
movements being intimidated and arrested, their equipment and
footage confiscated, and they sit in jail cells waiting for
ridiculously trumped up charges to be fabricated and used against
This extreme reaction from the authorities is highly unethical and
dangerous. That’s not really a surprising comment given the track
record of governments everywhere, but we must continue to assert our
right as journalists, documentarians, and
media-makers to report on current events without retribution.
One of our members traveled to Standing Rock just last month to
document this incredibly brave movement and produced this
short piece, which we screened at our most recent film night.
We're glad he didn't have any trouble, and happy to support this
kind of film work in any way we can.
We hope it has been useful to you to have all this information
synthesized in one place, and we hope everyone will continue to
follow the situation closely and show their support.
Thanks for reading!
1. Ratner, Lizzy. "Amy
Goodman Is Facing Jailtime For Reporting on the Dakota Access
Pipeline. That Should Scare Us All." The Nation,
Oct. 15th 2016. Accessed Oct. 17th 2016.
2. Funes, Yessenia. "Charges
Dropped Against Amy Goodman For Covering DAPL." Colorlines,
Oct. 17th 2016. Accessed Oct. 17th 2016.
3. Rickert, Levi. "Actress
Shailene Woodley Among 27 Arrested for Trespassing Near DAPL"
Native News Online, Oct. 12th 2016. Accessed Oct. 17th
4. Knight, Nika. "Filmmaker
Faces 45 Years in Prison for Reporting on Dakota Access Protests"
CommonDreams, Oct. 15th 2016. Accessed Oct. 17th 2016.
Charged With 3 Felony Counts for Documenting Tar Sands Pipeline
Protest" RT, Oct. 13th 2016. Accessed Oct. 17th