Protests turned into celebrations this week in North Dakota, after Amy Goodman, award-winning journalist, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, had charges for participating in a riot dismissed after a judge ruled there was no probable cause to justify the allegations. The charges against Goodman had come after she reported on Native American-led protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have said is destroying its ancestral burial sites and threatening drinking water supply.
Morton county courthouse right now pic.twitter.com/gtK6gHCyXR
— Caroline Grueskin 🕵🏻♀️ (@cgrueskin) October 17, 2016
“This is a complete vindication of my right as a journalist to cover the attack on the protesters, and of the public’s right to know what is happening with the Dakota Access pipeline,” said Goodman. “We will continue to report on this epic struggle of Native Americans and their non-native allies taking on the fossil fuel industry and an increasingly militarized police in this time when climate change threatens the planet.”
In comments to the Bismarck Tribune, State’s Attorney Ladd Erickson called Goodman a “protester,” asking, “Is everybody that’s putting out a YouTube video from down there a journalist, too?”
Video posted by Goodman showing private security contractors allegedly pepper spraying and attacking peaceful protesters with dogs has been viewed more than 14 million times on Facebook.
The attempt to classify Goodman as a protester has been condemned by advocates who claim that the charges were an attempt at silencing the press. “We fully support Ms. Goodman for taking this incredibly brave stance and being willing to return North Dakota to fight these charges directly,” wrote Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. “But make no mistake: North Dakota authorities should have dropped these obviously illegal charges as soon as they were issued.”
Goodman’s not the only journalist facing charges for covering the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Filmmaker and climate journalist Deia Schlosberg, the producer of the upcoming documentary, How to Let Go of the World and Love All Things Climate Can’t Change, is also facing a possible 45-year sentence for charges that include felony conspiracy. On Tuesday, Schlosberg posted to Common Dreams to protest the charges, saying that two other journalists were also facing felony charges for covering the same protest.