There may be hope for the First Amendment rights of new media journalists― a North Dakota judge has dismissed riot charges against Democracy Now! cofounder and investigative reporter Amy Goodman.
As TechCrunch reported this weekend, Goodman was charged for “participating in a riot” after she reported from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, on the long-running protests there against the development of a $3.8 billion energy project called the Dakota Access pipeline.
The pipeline specifically impacts the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota and its 8,000-person reservation. Native American advocates say that the project will not only put safe drinking water at risk for the Standing Rock Sioux, but will also destroy their sacred burial grounds.
Goodman captured and broadcast footage of Dakota Access-affiliated security guards using pepper spray and attack dogs against Native American advocates and environmentalists.
Beyond matters of tribal rights, the pipeline raises profound ecological concerns.
Oil and petroleum pipeline spills have been on the rise in the U.S. since 2009, along with domestic oil consumption and production. The spills are caused by everything from corrosion, to welding or equipment failures, but also natural disasters and human errors.
Uncowed by the court, Democracy Now! has continued its reporting at the protest front lines.
Goodman is not the only journalist state prosecutors attempted to silence over pipeline protest coverage in North Dakota. A documentary filmmaker named Deia Schlosberg was taken into custody, and later released, but with her footage confiscated and still facing possible felony charges in the state.
She was arrested while filming demonstrators at the tar sands pipelines in Wallhala, North Dakota. The protestors shut down TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline there.
Charges against Schlosberg included “two Class A felony charges and one Class C felony charge, and conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service,” according to a blog post on EcoWatch written by Josh Fox.
Schlosberg was a producer for the Fox-directed documentary called How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change.
We have reached out to Schlosberg for an update on her situation.