Amy Goodman at the Dakota Access protest.
In developments related to Native American-led protests against an environmentally destructive mega-pipeline, Morton County, North Dakota, issued an arrest warrant on September 8 for Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. The independent, progresive news program said Goodman faced a charge of criminal trespass, a misdemeanor offense.
The case, State of North Dakota v. Amy Goodman, stems from Democracy Now!’s coverage in North Dakota over the Labor Day weekend of the Native American-led protests against the Dakota Access pipeline. On September 3, Democracy Now! filmed security guards working for the Dakota Access pipeline company using dogs and pepper spray to attack protesters.
Protester: "These people are just threatening all of us with these dogs. And she, that woman over there, she was charging, and it bit somebody right in the face."
Amy Goodman: "The dog has blood in its nose and its mouth."
Protester: "And she’s still standing here threatening us."
Amy Goodman: "Why are you letting their—her dog go after the protesters? It’s covered in blood!"
Democracy Now!'s report went viral online and was viewed more than 13 million times on Facebook alone. The show said that "footage was rebroadcast on many outlets, including CBS, NBC,NPR.org, CNN, MSNBC and Huffington Post. Also charged was Cody Hall for his alleged presence at the September 3 land defense action and for a subsequent protest on September 6.
"Hall is considered a lead organizer in the movement against the Dakota Access pipeline and was arrested at one of the checkpoints that have been erected by North Dakota authorities to restrict access to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and the growing pipeline opposition camps. Hall was denied bail and remained in jail throughout the weekend. Hall's attorneys and several others we spoke to confirmed that it is highly unusual for a defendant charged with misdemeanor trespass to be jailed and denied bail.
"According to the criminal complaint against Goodman, the charges are based on a viewing of Democracy Now!'s video report of the incident, conducted by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Special Agent Lindsey Wohl's sworn affidavit states that Goodman was there as a journalist. Wohl wrote, 'Amy Goodman can be seen on the video identifying herself and interviewing protestors [sic] about their involvement in the protest.'"
Democracy Now! noted: "To date, none of the private security personnel shown in the video both assaulting protesters and commanding their dogs to attack them have been charged or arrested. Democracy Now! is consulting with attorneys in North Dakota as well as at the Center for Constitutional Rights. CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy said, 'This is clearly a violation of the First Amendment … an attempt to repress this important political movement by silencing media coverage.'"