For now, Freedom of Speech has been upheld by North Dakota judge
On Monday charges against Amy Goodman for covering the Dakota Access Pipeline protest were dismissed by a North Dakota judge, and thank the lord that they were. The protest has been going on for several months, but as bulldozers and pipeline workers began tearing up the land, things became even more serious.
Goodman, journalist and host of Democracy Now!, was reporting on the scene as confrontation escalated swiftly between the protestors and private security. As they tried to drive out the construction crews, security sprayed some of the protestors with mace, and their attack dogs lunged and snapped at the crowd.
In the video report from Democracy Now! they interview a man who had an open bite wound on his bicep. As even as Goodman spoke to one of the security workers her dog’s snout dripped red with blood, while she ignored the reporter’s questions.
I don’t understand how reporting on such an intense and key moment of conflict at these protests could possibly be misconstrued as a crime. The prosecutor even flip-flopped the charges from “trespassing” to “rioting” once an warrant had been issued for her arrest by Morton County.
So far, mainstream media has neglected to give these protests the coverage they deserve. So, what—as soon as someone steps in to cover the news, it’s somehow a crime all of the sudden? The prosecutor, Ladd Erickson, claimed that she was basically acting as a protestor and not a journalist.
“Everything she reported on was from the position of justifying the protesters action,” said Erickson to The Grand Forks Herald.
If you watch the video, she does no such thing. She simply narrates the scene and asks the protestors questions amongst the chaos. She even speaks directly to the security personnel, asking them why they were letting the dogs attack the protestors, but is met with minimal response, obviously. Is it Goodman’s fault that security used pepper spray and attack dogs on protestors? Of course not. That is simply what happened.
The prosecutor’s rational for the charges basically seem to be that-if you report on the news and one faction is more in the right than the other, it’s no longer journalism.
That is absolutely ludicrous. Do the implications of his claim suggest that he thinks any form of journalism that tells us a story aside from, “Both sides are somewhat in the right and in the wrong,” is criminal?
Thankfully, the judge did not see it that way. For now we can rest easier knowing that journalistic freedom was protected by the court system, this time. At the very least more interest and attention has been generated around the protests. Hopefully it will persist.
(This Blog Challenge was to take a stance on whether or not Amy Goodman should be arrested for reporting on the Dakota Access Pipeline protests)