On September 3rd, Journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! filmed security guards attacking Native American protesters with dogs and pepper spray. The footage was widely covered, garnering significant negative press for the Dakota Access Pipeline company. Now, an arrest warrant has been issued for Goodman, charging her with criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor offense.
“This is an unacceptable violation of freedom of the press,” Goodman said in a statement posted to Democracy Now! “I was doing my job by covering pipeline guards unleashing dogs and pepper spray on Native American protesters.”
North Dakota officials dismayed that journalist Amy Goodman was doing her job — they want to arrest her. https://t.co/08YZ0IHAsI
— Dan Gillmor (@dangillmor) September 10, 2016
Goodman’s report shows the violent clash between security guards for the pipeline company as Native American’s protest the bulldozing of documented sacred sites. According to a court document filed by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the construction site was home to more than two dozen graves, and scores of stone rings, effigies, and other artifacts.
After the clash, both sides reported injuries, and dozens of protesters reported Dakota Access security personnel attacking them with dogs and pepper spray — as documented in Goodman’s video footage.
Last week, charges were also filed against Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, for spray painting construction equipment as part of the protest. Stein and Baraka were charged with misdemeanor counts of criminal trespass and criminal mischief.
— Winnie Wong (@WaywardWinifred) September 4, 2016
The North Dakota Access Pipeline, also called the Bakken pipeline, is planned to pipe fracked oil across four states, and has become a source of major contention between the government, the corporation, and environmentalists and Native Americans, who assert that it endangers their tribal lands and heritage.
In July, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe sued the Army Corps of Engineers over the permits granted to the developer, which put a construction site a half a mile upstream of the tribe’s reservation boundary. The tribe says that a spill from the site would be culturally and economically catastrophic, and that it endangers sacred sites and their drinking water.
On Friday, the Obama administration issued an unexpected order to halt construction near the North Dakota site, reversing an earlier court order.
“This case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects,” read a joint statement from the Army, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior, accompanying the court decision.
This story has been corrected to reflect that the federal government halted construction, not a federal court.