October 26, 2016
Another journalist faces charges for covering the Dakota Access Pipeline protest
by Julia Fleischaker
After reporting that Amy Goodman would be returning to North Dakota to face charges of criminal trespassing stemming from her coverage of the protests against the construction of Dakota Access Pipeline, we were able to share the good news that all of the charges against her had been dropped.
In a statement on the Democracy Now! website, Goodman said, “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. 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.”
But while it’s gotten less press attention, there’s another journalist also facing charges—and forty-five years in prison—for her coverage of the same protests. Documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg has been charged with felonies that could land her that hefty sentence. In a statement posted at Common Dreams, Schlosberg wrote that she was arrested while filming an act of civil disobedience.
When I was arrested, I was doing my job. I was reporting. I was documenting. Journalism needs to be passionately and ethically pursued and defended if we are to remain a free democratic country. Freedom of the press, guaranteed by the First Amendment, is absolutely critical to maintaining an informed citizenry, without which, democracy is impossible.
Writing at The Nation, Josh Fox, whose film (How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change) Schlosberg is producing, said that she was held for 48 hours before being allowed to speak to a lawyer. The authorities confiscated her footage. She is now charged with three counts of felony conspiracy and faces a possible sentence of up to 45 years.” Fox also told Nick Visser at the Huffington Post that the arrest appeared to violate her First Amendment rights.
“They have in my view violated the First Amendment,” Fox said, referring to the state’s Pembina County Sheriff’s Department. “It’s fucking scary, it knocks the wind of your sails, it throws you for a loop. They threw the book at Deia for being a journalist.”
At the end of her statement, Schlosberg noted two other journalists, both currently facing criminal charges.
I’d also like to call attention to two reporters covering the same action in Washington State, Lindsey Grayzel and Carl Davis, who are facing preliminary felony charges as well. For reporters who are simply doing their job, which is their constitutionally protected right, to be facing such charges is an outrage.
You can read more about that case here.
Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.