2016-10-14 This is a chiller. Journalists Amy Goodman, Deia Schlosberg and actor Shailene Woodley face criminal charges over filming of Dakota Access Pipeline protests
I’ve followed developments in North Dakota starting back when oil spills did a number on the water that these people are dependent upon. They came together to try and stop events that make their homes uninhabitable. Excellent and dedicated people doing what you or I might do under similar circumstances.
The story is a repeated one. The oil and gas companies – – “petro-chemical industry” – – with impunity poison water supplies, destroying the health of local people and the environment they are dependent upon for living. The result is impoverished, diseased people (and creatures). Do a “search” on this blog for (among other stories)
- OGONI, NIGERIA; (2009- Nuke. The Empires dissect us. Why I won’t quit. Ogoni, Saro-Wiwa, Royal Dutch Shell, Niger Delta oil, local destruction and poverty.)
- AAMJIWNAANG, SARNIA Ontario; (2010-05-21 Important collection of information on water and disease. Petrochemical industry.)
- FORT CHIPEWYAN; (2010-04-05 Tar Sands Update: Dr. Gina Solomon after May 03, 2010 Visit to Fort Chipewyan)
- ROSEBUD. AB; (2013-10-09 ERNST VS ENCANA: Chief Justice finds . . (about water and the rights of the petroleum industry))
- DAWSON CREEK, impunity; (2008-11-09 Encana Tar Sands: Reply from RCMP. Rule of law? Jane Jacobs.)
- FARM COUNTRY (the “chemical” part of the “petro-chemical” industry). This one is about male gonads.; (2008-09-20 LOST BOYS related to chemicals, Globe & Mail. Includes request to speak to U of S, Board of Governors.)
- NORTH SAKATCHEWAN RIVER; (2007-07-09 Water there, not here. Water then, not now.)
- YELLOWKNIFE not specifically petro-chemical – – (2013-04-01 Taxpayers on the hook for a billion dollar toxic cleanup (Arsenic +, Yellowknife). Giant Gold Mine. Globe&Mail)
All the same story. With thousands of repeats globally.
At some point, unthinking people are going to wake up and realize that THEIR disease and developmental problems are the consequence of poisons that are going into THEIR environments, slowly, stealthily over decades. Makes me think we can expect more, not fewer, confrontations and violence – – really, it’s people fighting for their lives. There is no human life where there is no water; there is no healthy life where there is polluted, poisoned water (and air, land, and food).
Bless the North Dakotans and those who have come to aid them in their battle.
And bless those who filmed (more than one event) – – I can’t help but think that the overwhelming presence of riot police, the overhead surveillance by helicopters. and the armoured personnel carriers amassed at the most recent scene would have deteriorated had it not been for the filming. Especially with the authorities themselves so willing to completely disregard the rule of law.
Huffington Post initiated this reporting. Common Dreams picked it up. Copies of both articles are below.
I am shocked that the Police and Attorney General of North Dakota not only think they CAN, but actually DO IT – – charge people (Amy Goodman, Deia Schlosberg – – journalists – -, Shailene Woodle and others) for filming the protests. It backfired: there have been more than 14 million views of one of the videos alone.
A documentarian arrested while filming an oil pipeline protest on Tuesday has been charged with three felony conspiracy charges ― and could face decades in prison if convicted.
Deia Schlosberg, the producer of the upcoming documentary “How to Let Go of the World and Love All Things Climate Can’t Change,” was detained while filming a protest against TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline in Walhalla, North Dakota. Activists at the event, associated with the group Climate Direct Action, shut down the pipeline, which carries oil from Canadian tar sands to the U.S, for about seven hours.
Two of the protestors, Michael Foster and Samuel Jessup, were also charged and Schlosberg’s equipment and footage from the event was confiscated. Schlosberg said shortly after being released on bond that she couldn’t comment on her arrest until she spoke to a lawyer.
She has been charged with three felonies: conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service. Together, the charges carry 45 years in maximum prison sentences.
Josh Fox, the director of the film and two others related to fossil fuels, including the Academy Award-nominated “Gasland,” said Schlosberg wasn’t participating in the protest herself but acting as filmmaker to document the event. Her arrest appears to reflect a “deliberate” targeting of reporters, he said.
“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.”
Ryan Bialas, state’s attorney for Pembina County, told The Huffington Post there was no such targeting and said the event at the pipeline was “not a protest” but “a criminal action.”
“People are free to come and protest as much as they want in my county, I just ask they don’t damage any property in doing so,” Bialas said in an email. He also noted his office has offered to return Schlosberg’s equipment and footage and he has “no interest” in keeping it.
The arrest is the latest in a series of high-profile criminal charges filed in North Dakota. Police arrested actress Shailene Woodley and 27 others this week for trespassing while protesting the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline.
And authorities issued an arrest warrant for criminal trespassing for Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! last month, who filmed a thousands-strong Native American-led protest in September, which was met with guards wielding pepper spray and attack dogs.
Goodman announced this week she will surrender to authorities on Monday “to fight this charge … a clear violation of the First Amendment.”
Fox said the actions in North Dakota were “mind boggling” and he hasn’t seen “any other state behave this way.”
“Normally you get a warning,” he said, referencing other direct-action protests. “In North Dakota, you don’t. If you were trespassing, you leave and they arrest you anyway.”
He has been circulating a letter calling for the charges against Schlosberg to be dropped. Signatories include actress Daryl Hannah, musician Neil Young, activist Bill McKibben and actor Mark Ruffalo.
Bialas said he was unaware of the criminal action against both Woodley and Goodman and that his office does “not “target activists, journalists or media.”
In an ominous sign for press freedom, documentary filmmaker and journalist Deia Schlosberg was arrested and charged with felonies carrying a whopping maximum sentence of up to 45 years in prison—simply for reporting on the ongoing Indigenous protests against fossil fuel infrastructure.
Schlosberg was arrested in Walhalla, North Dakota on Tuesday for filming activists shutting down a tar sands pipeline, part of a nationwide solidarity action organized on behalf of those battling the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“The actions of the North Dakota Police force are not just a violation of the climate, but a violation of the constitution.”
—Josh Fox, Gasland filmmaker
The filmmaker was held without access to a lawyer for 48 hours, her colleague Josh Fox wrote in the Nation, and her footage was confiscated by the police.
Schlosberg was then charged Friday with three felonies, the Huffington Post reported: “conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service. Together, the charges carry 45 years in maximum prison sentences.”
“They have in my view violated the First Amendment,” Fox told the Huffington Post, 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.”
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden observed that Schlosberg faces more years in prison than he does for leaking secret documents about the NSA’s mass surveillance program in 2013:
“Deia isn’t alone,” observed Fox in an op-ed in the Nation. “The arrest of journalists, filmmakers, and others witnessing and reporting on citizen protests against fossil-fuel infrastructure amid climate change is part of a worrisome and growing pattern.”
Indeed, the news of Schlosberg’s arrest followed Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman announcement earlier this week that she will return to North Dakota to combat charges she faces as a result of reporting on the Dakota Access Pipeline protest last month.
“Goodman, whose camera crew filmed a private security team attacking peaceful Native American protesters with dogs and pepper spray, faces charges of criminal trespassing—which many have said amounts to an assault on press freedom,” as Common Dreams reported.
It also emerged late Saturday that a North Dakota state prosecutor has dropped the trespassing charge and is seeking instead to charge Goodman with participating in a “riot,” Democracy Now reported.
“I came back to North Dakota to fight a trespass charge. They saw that they could never make that charge stick, so now they want to charge me with rioting,” said Goodman. “I wasn’t trespassing, I wasn’t engaging in a riot, I was doing my job as a journalist by covering a violent attack on Native American protesters.”
A warrant for Goodman’s arrest was issued September 8.
Meanwhile, actor Shailene Woodley was arrested Monday while live-streaming a prayer action at a Dakota Access construction site. “She was singled out, the police told her, because she was well-known and had 40,000 people watching live on her Facebook page,” Fox wrote. “Other filmmakers shooting protest actions along the pipeline have also been arrested.”
“Journalism is not a crime; it is a responsibility,” Fox said in a press statement about this pattern of arrests. “The actions of the North Dakota Police force are not just a violation of the climate, but a violation of the constitution.”
Supporters have created a petition calling on the authorities in North Dakota to drop charges against Schlosberg, Goodman, and other journalists arrested for doing their work and reporting on the protests against Dakota Access.
Neil Young, Mark Ruffalo, Daryl Hannah, and other celebrities have also signed an open letter to President Barack Obama and North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple, calling on the leaders to intervene and for Schlosberg’s charges to be dropped. The charges were “unfair, unjust, and illegal,” the letter said, according to Reuters.
“This is not only about reporting on the climate-change movement,” Fox argued in the Nation. “Journalists have also been arrested reporting on Black Lives Matter, the movement for Native rights, and many other important movements the corporate media fails to cover. The First Amendment and the Constitution are at stake in this case. If we lose it, we lose America too.”