Protests

(UPDATED) Democracy Now Host Amy Goodman Faces 'Riot' Charges For Covering North Dakota Pipeline Protests

Prosecutor argues against Goodman's First Amendment rights because she sympathized with protesters.

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Journalists can have a POV
Screenshot/Democracy Now

Does a journalist's point of view make them complicit in any potential crimes they report on?

North Dakota State's Attorney Ladd Erickson appears to think so, which is why after dropping criminal trespassing charges against Democracy Now host Amy Goodman, he has upgraded charges against the venerable leftist journalist to the far more serious accusation that Goodman participated in a riot when covering protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline this past September.

The protests against the pipeline took a violent turn when private security guards pepper-sprayed demonstrators and unleashed dogs on them. Goodman—who makes no secret that she's in full support of the protests—covered these incidents for Democracy Now. In Erickson's view, that forfeits her First Amendment rights as a journalist. Per the Bismarck Tribune:

"She's a protester, basically. Everything she reported on was from the position of justifying the protest actions," said Erickson, adding that her coverage of the Sept. 3 protest did not mention that people trespassed during the incident or the alleged assaults on guards.

"Is everybody that's putting out a YouTube video from down there a journalist down there, too?" he asked.

If this is all Erickson is going on for charging Goodman, he is demonstrating a frightening misunderstanding of the concept of a free press. One does not require special accreditation from the government, nor a a demonstrated "objectivity," to report on news as it happens.

Goodman's case is not the only Dakota pipeline-related arrest making news. Documentary producer Deia Schlosberg—who works with Gasland director Josh Fox—is reportedly facing felony charges for "conspiracy to commit theft of property and services" while she was covering what protesters themselves described as "sabotage" of the pipeline's emergency valves in a coordinated action earlier this month. These protesters freely admit they cut down fences, broke into valve stations, and manually shut down emergency valves. As Vice noted last year, this is a surprisingly easy but potentially dangerous thing to do (especially if caring for the environment is a concern):

The momentum of the contents in the line running into a shut valve, especially one shut very quickly, can cause major pressure build-up and that pressure could release in unpredictable ways. Yes, it is within the realm of possibility that something could burst and cause a spill. It's a pipeline, they can and do break.

On his Facebook page, Fox wrote that authorities "threw the book at Deia for being a journalist." Fox says she wasn't an active particpant in the protest, but merely covering it. It's unclear at this point what exactly Schlosberg was doing while covering the pipeline sabotage, though if the protest involved breaking and entering, trespassing, and disrupting energy infrastructure, it begs the question of whether or not the First Amendment indemnifies journalists who accompany people engaging in criminal activity.

In Goodman's case, however, it's been more than a month since the protests she covered, and Erickson has not publicly released any evidence that Goodman rioted or incited a riot or did anything other than report on the scene.

It appears the prosecutor intends to use her publicly stated point of view as evidence against her. If that's all he's got, it's a chilling affront to the concept of a free press and should not be permitted to stand.

UPDATE: The Bismarck Tribune reports Judge John Grinsteiner has dismissed all charges against Goodman.

Watch Goodman's report that has now led to charges against her below:

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  1. Where the fuck has been Reason’s coverage of this story? Oh yeah, Trump likes pussy. Nevermind.

    1. Disagree with the constant focus on Trump all you want (and it is excessive), but it’s a bit silly to complain about them not covering a particular story in response to an article about that particular story, isn’t it?

      1. Um no because I’ve heard about this story weeks ago and Reason is just now getting to it.

        1. Perhaps they’re getting to it because now there’s a free-press angle?

          1. Actually there would have been a good angle in the fact that the Tribes’ complaint is actually against the Army Corps of Engineers, not against the oil company, and that the protesters by and large have no actual understanding of the situation they are protesting.

            I’ve meant to come here and take reason to task for not covering this for weeks now, but haven’t gotten around to it.

        2. Goodman getting arrested for trespassing is not as alarming as her getting charged for “rioting.”

        3. Rushing into reporting > waiting for all the facts to come in before writing??

  2. I can’t say I agree with this woman, but this is absurdly unconstitutional. In a just world the prosecutor would be tarred and feathered, placed backwards on a horse and banished from society.

    1. Exactly.

      the thing that disappoints me about Goodman is she’s fine with government wielding this type of power, but prefers it to be wielded by different people. There is a deep fundamental divide between those of us who believe the government shouldn’t have this power at all, and people who merely believe the power is being abused.

      I hope Amy Goodman prevails in her attempt to exercise a right recognized by dead white slave owners.

      1. Ox goring is alright if it’s not your ox being gored and taken away.

      2. Principals, not principles.

        The local college station plays that show every day at noon. After attempting to listen to it a couple times I now think of it as Communism Now. They don’t want democracy. They want authoritarian rule. By the right people of course.

        1. No they don’t. They’re principled, I’ll give them that. And to Goodman’s credit, she was one of the few talking up Rand Paul a few years ago during his filibuster.

          1. I’ve never thought of George Soros as principled.

        2. I used to listen to it often.

      3. No, I hope she feels the full weight of the boot she advocates.

        1. Do you have some evidence of her advocating for prosecution of journalists based on their point of view?

          Sorry, but if you wish for people to suffer the weight of the authoritarianism they favor, you are just wishing for authoritarianism. People never learn.

          1. Citizens United.

  3. She wanted democracy now, she’s getting it.

  4. “Is everybody that’s putting out a YouTube video from down there a journalist down there, too?” he asked.

    Well yeah actually.

    1. I guess I can’t figure out who’s in the protected class and who’s not if we accept that premise.

    2. This.

      I just can’t understand why that is so hard to process.

  5. Protest, fine. But where do these hippies think we get the energy to power their microbuses and iPhones? Magic? And do they realize we already have hundreds of thousands of miles of petroleum pipelines across the US?

    1. Wind and solar should power everything. Just don’t even think about spoiling the pristine wilderness with windmills and panels.

    2. There are miles and miles of pipeline on that very reservation.

      The real issue is an old one – the Army Corps of Engineers used eminent domain in the early 60s to take a fair chunk of tribal land and build a reservoir. This is not consistent with Treaty of Fort Laramie, and was probably unconstitutional.

      The section of pipeline in dispute runs through this chunk of land. The Army Corps of Engineers worked around the local tribes and brought in out-of-state archeologists to certify that the land was free of cultural artifacts.

      As construction neared this chunk, suddenly the local tribes “discovered” some cultural artifacts that the Corps of Engineers’ consultants had “overlooked” and tried to get construction stopped. That’s also when they suddenly decided they had deep concerns about the environmental impacts of this particular pipeline, even though they never had a problem with any of the others.

      At root, though, this is bad blood between the tribes and the Corps of Engineers that goes back a long, long way, but where the Proggies see an oil company involved they really don’t need to be told who the villain is.

      1. Garrison Dam was built in the late 40s, early 50’s.

      2. Not to mention the protest is on private ranch land that has been private for generations. The hooligans do have their camp on Corps land closer to the lake/river.

  6. One day I’m hoping to see footage of people laying down in front of a bulldozer to stop it and getting run over.

    1. That one anti-Israel chick got squished into human pita bread by a bulldozer a few years ago.

      1. *human hummus

        unless you meant, like, the pita dough before baking, i dunno.

      1. It doesn’t have to be tanks, but yeah.

    2. What about that young girl that was killed in Israel?

      1. You and Albo are referring to Rachel Corrie, one of the useful idiots of the ISM.

        1. That would be Rachel (AKA Flatbread) Corrie, oppressor!

    1. “In the case of The Times, Mr. Trump has made its largest individual shareholder, Carlos Slim, of Mexico, part of the conspiracy. The Times’s publisher, Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. ? whose family controls the company’s voting shares ? said in a statement that Mr. Slim “has never sought to influence what we report.” The Times’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, recently told me [a writer for the New York Times] that he had never even met Mr. Slim.”

      There, the NYT just *pwned* Trump with the True Facts.

      /sarc

      1. via Shawarma, then tacos pastor, ran into the wiki article about Arab immigration to Mexico. “Slim” comes from “Salim”.

        The More You Know.

  7. Schlosberg was doing while covering the pipeline sabotage, though if the protest involved breaking and entering, trespassing, and disrupting energy infrastructure, it begs the question of whether or not the First Amendment indemnifies journalists who accompany people engaging in criminal activity.

    No it doesn’t. The 1A doesn’t give you the right to commit crimes as long as you have a film crew.

    1. Sure it does. http://townhall.com/tipsheet/c…..t-n2233342

      1. That guy can go fuck himself. Do they really teach that garbage in J-school? That they are special protect citizens.

        1. Chris Cuomo also thinks hate speech is not protected speech. He’s the little brother that was forced to eat lead paint chips.

          1. Chris Cuomo also thinks hate speech is not protected speech. He’s the little brother that was forced to eat lead paint chips day-old dog shit.

            Much more fitting for ol’ Cuomo

        2. They apparently teach that garbage at Fordham University’s law school.

  8. “In Erickson’s view, that forfeits her First Amendment rights as a journalist.”

    That’s right, she doesn’t have any rights as a journalist. She has rights as human being, and the government has no business violating her First Amendment rights.

    That being said, being charged with a crime by itself isn’t a violation of anyone’s rights. Withholding evidence is violating someone’s rights. Denying someone a jury, a trial, legal counsel, or the ability to cross examine witnesses is violating someone’s rights.

    It’s an injustice when someone is wrongly convicted for exercising their First Amendment rights, too, but that doesn’t appear to have happened here. Being accused of a crime by itself isn’t a violation of anyone’s rights.

    1. “That’s right, she doesn’t have any rights as a journalist. She has rights as human being, and the government has no business violating her First Amendment rights.”

      Exactly. A-1 does not grant ‘rights’ to certain classes of people, it says the gov’t cannot censor speech.

      1. The question remains as to whether it gives any special protection to journalists doing things that aren’t speech/press, such as things they do when gathering information.

        I tend to think not. Everyone should have the same rights, whether or not they are acting as a journalist.

        1. Which was sort of Erickson’s point — is everyone who posts to YouTube a journalist? If we’re granting “extra” “rights” then that’s a great question. If there’s no such thing as special get-out-of-crimes-free cards for journalists then the point is moot.

        2. I tend to agree, Zeb. Periodically, journalists defy subpoenas or refuse to testify, and when they are treated just like anyone else who does that (well, except Hillary), there is an outcry that they should have privileges to do things the lesser sorts aren’t allowed to do.

          1. I’d add that I think that shield laws for journalists are probably a good idea. But have nothing to do with the first amendment. But that raises the question of whether anyone should be compelled to testify about the contents of private conversations.

            1. I’d add that I think that shield laws for journalists are probably a good idea.

              Why?

              And, you realize you open the door to licensing journalists if you start attaching real legal privileges to the status, yes?

    2. agree.

      and Fisher missed the meat of this issue.

    3. It is a violation of rights if the arrest is specifically targeted to repress a point of view. “The process is the punishment” as folks around here are fond of saying. Just because I end up winning at trial doesn’t mean that the application of government force in the form of an arrest and detention on something that was clearly not a crime in the first place IS a rights violation.

      1. * isn’t

  9. A quick google leads me to believe that Amy Goodman wants to overturn Citizens United.

    On the basis of that limited information: fuck her. I hope she winds up in jail.

    If I’m wrong, then nevermind. /roseanne rosannadanna

    1. So, principals, not principles, then?

      1. No, a “teaching moment” where she can come to understand the consequences of her evil. Once she grasps that, she can have my sympathy and support.

  10. “Is everybody that’s putting out a YouTube video from down there a journalist down there, too?” he asked

    “Is everybody that’s putting out a YouTube video from with a quill pen and a pot of ink down there a journalist down there, too?” he asked

    1. North Dakota is like the land that time forgot.

      If they hadn’t found oil up there, it would be even worse.

      Their largest city is Fargo. It has 100,000 people in it.

      If North Dakota were a city, it would rank somewhere below 250th in population.

      Yeah, that cop is lost in time, sort of like in The Rocky Horror Picture Showwhen Brad and Janet start out in the square ass 1950s, get lost, and find themselves in the perv ass 1970s.

      Yeah, dude, everybody with a camera is a journalist now, and we’ve all got cameras. Every last damn one of us. And we’ve got dudes that wear earrings, too. I’ve seen ’em do it!

      1. I guess your inner progressive is showing. North Dakota is small, ergo, it’s BAD. With BAD PEOPLE.

        1. When a local cop asks rhetorically whether everyone with a YouTube account is a journalist, it is not unreasonable to suggest that he may be a little behind the times.

  11. ‘Pipe lines,we don’t need no stinking pipe lines’ . Leave the reporters alone and arrest these Indian assholes. I ‘ll bet they’d be cool with a solar or wind plant.

  12. “it begs the question”

    http://www.quickanddirtytips.c…..ion-update

    1. Yup — “begs the question” is like a reading roadblock.

      Short lesson on usage: don’t, ever.

      1. Amen, brother.

      2. ^ This. Just replace “begs” with “raises.” 99.9% of the time that’s the word people are actually looking for.

  13. I hate when I have to take the side of Marxists.

  14. Didn’t Obo just come out for some sort of government-determined ‘true’ viewpoints? Isn’t this what he wants?

  15. Didn’t Obo just come out for some sort of government-determined ‘true’ viewpoints? Isn’t this what he wants?

    Perhaps a Ministry would be in order.

    1. Anything off Psalm 69 is fine by me

      1. Tell me something I don’t know
        Show me something I can’t use
        Push the button
        CONNECT THE GODDAMN DOTS!!!!!

  16. “She’s a protester, basically. Everything she reported on was from the position of justifying the protest actions,” said Erickson, adding that her coverage of the Sept. 3 protest did not mention that people trespassed during the incident or the alleged assaults on guards.”

    Incidentally, I’m not sure he’s wrong about that part.

    Was she trespassing? Nothing in the First Amendment protects trespassing.

    I should say, too, that protesters often want to be arrested for various reasons, generating media coverage being one of them.

    And we should also point out that Amy Goodman getting arrested does more for her career, her causes, and Democracy Now! than just ignoring her ever could. That’s how these protests work: You do something controversial and spectacular, maybe provoking the police into arresting you, and that generates media coverage.

    That’s Green Peace, animal rights groups, Femen, and a thousand other left wing groups’ whole business model.

    It’s about creating a spectacle. This cop isn’t wrong about what she was doing as a journalist. He’s just wrong to think that, by itself, could or should be against the law.

    1. So, if she’s trespassing, is she still a journalist?

      Or has she BECOME the story instead of just reporting on the story?

    2. So, if she’s trespassing, is she still a journalist?

      Or has she BECOME the story instead of just reporting on the story?

    3. No legal trespass, as trespassing on open territory requires signs posted warning of the tresspass

      1. Not in North Dakota.

  17. Her POV shouldn’t matter to anything. Did she in fact participate in a riot or other criminal activity? Her role as a journalist (or as a protester), should have no bearing at all.

    1. You guys tear the fence down, trespass on their property, and then vandalize the project–and I’ll record the whole thing and broadcast it, okay? But don’t do anything until I get there!

      IF IF IF that’s what happened (and I am NOT NOT NOT saying it was), then I can understand why someone might think a judge and a jury should split those hairs.

      Isn’t that what judges and juries are for?

      1. But she’s a journalist Ken! Please bow down to her special status.

        1. Bow down, or bend over and grab ankles?

        2. Is anyone actually arguing that journalists can or should get away with crimes if they have a press pass stuck in their hats?

      2. You guys tear the fence down, trespass on their property, and then vandalize the project–and I’ll record the whole thing and broadcast it, okay? But don’t do anything until I get there!

        Absolutely. If her words or actions said that, then she was a participant in a conspiracy to commit vandalism or whatever. But without some evidence of that, charging her is not good.

        1. “But without some evidence of that, charging her is not good.”

          They need enough evidence to arrest her and for prosecutors to indict her.

          Whether there’s enough evidence for a jury to convict would be another question.

      3. Good point. Is she functioning as a journalist or as a PR flack?

    2. If she trespassed, hasn’t she BECOME the story?

  18. Other than people who don’t want the pipeline, possibly some eminent domain going on, and possibly some Sioux territory involved, I haven’t been following this. So I have two opinions.

    1. If she was not participating in whatever “crime” was going on, this is abuse of the usual sort. Being in or near a riot while interviewing people or photographing the action does not make you a rioter.

    2. If she was participating, whether just yelling support or throwing rocks, then the first amendment has nothing to do with. A reporter caught inside a bank during a bank robbery is not a bank robber if she’s just face down on the floor with everybody else, but if she voluntarily helps tie up guards, shoot out cameras and alarms, etc, then she’s just another bank robber.

    I have no idea which category she’s in.

    1. I have to think that she is experienced enough not to actively participate. She would know that her reporting would be far more valuable to the cause.

  19. Sounds like he’s just after her for her reporting. I assume she wasn’t an active participant in the violence.

    I am curious about why the guards escalated. Did the protestors do anything to justify escalation? The article makes it sounds as if they didn’t. The protestors have engaged in sabotage, which could justify escalation if they were doing it when the dogs were released. The particular kind of sabotage they engaged in is highly dangerous to third parties (and the environment).

    1. Details I’ve come across have been sketchy, but it would seem as if the dogs were let loose on trespassers who refused to leave, but that the vandalism didn’t start until after the dogs were released.

      The land itself belongs to the Army Corps of Engineers, but that’s disputed by the Sioux nation. I don’t know what that means for trespassing.

      The flare-up over the summer was about a stop work order that had been issued to the builder for a section of pipe where “cultural concerns” had been raised, where the builder went in on a weekend and rushed the work out before anyone could stop them. The Corps of Engineers ordered them to voluntarily stop work (so – evidence of an unhealthy relationship between the Corps and the builders, also).

      That’s when crowds of angry Progressives who thought this was about oil showed up, and it’s been a clown show ever since. The dumbest things that have been done have been done since then.

      1. The stop work from the Corps came after this incident. This was after a judge ruled against stopping the project.

      2. The land the pipeline is crossing is private. The protesters are camped on Corps land.

  20. Are other protesters facing similar charges, or mainly the reporter?

  21. I just think it’s hilarious that after everything that’s gone on in this campaign, Jill Stein is the candidate who gets charged with a crime.

    1. Because she’s a criminal.

      1. But small potatoes compared to Hillary.

      2. And everyone is a criminal to a sufficiently motivated prosecutor.

    2. I just think it’s hilarious that after everything that’s gone on in this campaign, Jill Stein is the candidate who gets charged with a crime.

      Kinda shows you how the system works, dunnit?

  22. Don’t worry Tony, as soon as Comrade Obumbles finds out about this the venerable Amy Goodman will have no worries and Ladd Erickson will get his comeuppance.

    Also Tony, you might want to change professions. There is a lot more of this shit coming down the pike.

  23. Does a journalist’s point of view make them complicit in any potential crimes they report on?

    Ask Pete Santilli. Oh, that’s right, he’s an icky right winger instead of a valiant occutard or campus SJW so Reason couldn’t give a flying fuck that he’s been jailed for years for being in proximity to a political protest.

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