Topic: Indigenous

"Riot" charges against Democracy Now! journalist dismissed

Image sourced from Democracy Now report filed by Amy Goodman

A North Dakota District Court Judge has dismissed charges of "riot" filed by a state prosecutor against Democracy Now! journalist and producer Amy Goodman. 

Goodman filed a report viewed by millions across the world which showed Dakota Access Pipeline staff using attack dogs and what appeared to be pepper spray on people attempting to stop construction of the pipeline in an area that had been identified as culturally and historically significant to the Standing Rock Sioux.

Initial charges of criminal trespass were dropped. Democracy Now! says a States Attorney, Ladd .R. Erickson attempted to charge Goodman with participating in a "riot."

Goodman appeared in the Morton County Court today to dispute the charge and according to reports, the District Judge John Grinsteiner did not find probable cause to justify the charges filed.

In an interview outside the courthouse with West Coast Woman Warrior Media Cooperative before her court appearance, Goodman described the charge of riot as “completely outrageous.”

Goodman said, “One of the dogs that we filmed his mouth and nose was dripping with blood and they continued to push these dogs into the crowd. We published the video and it went viral 14 million hits on Facebook and then all the networks picked it up, CNN, NBC, NSNBC, CBC Canadian broadcasting, and indigenous sites all over the world.”

Goodman went on to say, “It is our job to go to where the silence is and at Standing Rock it actually isn’t silent, but for the corporate media they rarely come here and it is so important that we continue to stand up for the first amendment that’s important not only because of freedom of the press but for the public’s right to know, you cannot have a meaningful democracy without people being informed.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and many other tribes and supporters have spent months attempting to block construction of the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipe. They believe the environmental threats it poses and the obligation to consult with the indigenous people have been ignored in the process. 

If completed, the pipeline would transport up to 500,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day across the country to Illinois. It would pass under the Missouri River which is the main water source for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and millions of others in the region.

Opponents to the pipeline claim sacred sites have already been destroyed by Dakota Access Pipeline works and are seeking to halt construction altogether.

Here is the report Amy Goodman filed from the scene.