On September 3, Democracy Now! reporter Amy Goodman recorded video of private security guards unleashing dogs and pepper spray on water protectors who were protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. The state of North Dakota charged her with trespassing—a charge that was later replaced with misdemeanor rioting. Today (October 17), District Court Judge John Grinsteiner ruled that there was no probable cause and dropped the charge. According to The Guardian, the charge could have resulted in up to a year behind bars.
“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,” Goodman said, according to Democracy Now! “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.”
The case is just one of several initiated against journalists who are covering the pipeline protests. Four journalists with independent media outlet Unicorn Riot were also arrested in the last few weeks: two on September 13, one on October 7 and the last on October 12. The journalists say they were strip-searched during their arrest for “criminal trespass”; they are still awaiting their days in court.