WASHINGTON — On Monday, Free Press delivered nearly 25,000 petitions to the office of the North Dakota State’s Attorney demanding that authorities drop all charges against Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman and anyone else covering the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline project.
Goodman plans to turn herself in at the Morton County Courthouse in Mandan, North Dakota, later today, more than one month after state authorities issued a warrant for her arrest. The charge against Goodman, changed recently from criminal trespass to “riot” by Ladd Erickson of the state’s attorney office, relate to a September Democracy Now! broadcast that showed private security guards unleashing attack dogs against pipeline protesters.
Over the weekend Goodman returned to North Dakota to challenge the charges and to continue reporting on the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. “I wasn’t trespassing, I wasn’t engaging in a riot, I was doing my job as a journalist by covering a violent attack on Native American protesters,” Goodman said during her program.
Free Press’ Press Freedom Campaign Director Mike Rispoli made the following statement:
“The First Amendment is abundantly clear on freedom of the press and the rights of protesters. Morton County’s actions violate these rights. This crackdown is designed to intimidate the many journalists like Amy Goodman who are reporting what’s happening on the ground. Threatening to throw journalists in jail is a blatant attempt to silence the indigenous coalition that’s protesting the construction of the pipeline on tribal lands.
“This is a no-brainer — journalism is not a crime. The public has a right to know about protests like these. All charges must be dropped and local authorities reprimanded for violating rights that are essential to a free and functioning democracy.”