Journalist Amy Goodman to Turn Herself in to Defend Freedom of the Press
UPDATE: After dropping trespassing charges, prosecutors have now charged Goodman with participating in a ‘riot’.
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: On Thursday Award-winning independent journalist Amy Goodman announced she’s going to turn herself in to authorities in North Dakota over an outstanding warrant. The charge? Doing her job.
AMY GOODMAN: The state of North Dakota has issued an arrest warrant for me that didn’t happen when I was there when the Democracy Now team on September 3rd was covering what’s taking place in North Dakota which is really historic. You have the largest unification of Native American tribes from Latin America, the United States, and Canada who are struggling right now for nothing less than the fate of the planet.
NOOR: On September 3, Goodman and a Democracy Now team released this report.
GOODMAN: We’re standing at the construction site of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Protestors advance as far as a small wooden bridge. Security unleashes one of the dogs which attacks two of the Native Americans horses.
It was Labor Day weekend. Saturday they were going to plant their tribal flags at the site of the tribal burial grounds and what they saw there were bulldozers in full gear, desecrating what they consider their sacred sites.
NOOR: Showing security for the Dakota Access Pipeline physically assaulting nonviolent, mostly Native American land and water protectors, pepper-spraying them and unleashing dogs, one of which was shown with blood dripping from its nose and mouth.
GOODMAN: It is still standing here threatening us. Why are you letting her dog go after the protestors? It’s covered in blood.
We were filming one dog whose mouth and nose were dripping with blood. The dogs bit a number of the people on the ground and it was terrifying. As Wenonah La Duke the indigenous leader from White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota said to the Governor of North Dakota, Jack Dalrymple, you are not George Wallace. This is not Alabama. This is not 1963. Sicking dogs on protestors.
NOOR: It wasn’t until five days later, Goodman was charged with one count of criminal trespass and a warrant was issued for Goodman’s arrest. She could face 30 days in jail if convicted.
The gripping report produced by Goodman and her team was picked up by mainstream media outlets and viewed by millions.
GOODMAN: We released that video that night and it went viral, immediately. 14 million views and its way beyond that. The networks all took it. I call it trickle up journalism. NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NPR.
NOOR: Goodman’s story was crucial evidence that countered the police’s statements, which was repeated verbatim in many media outlets that the protesters were violent or that they attacked the security forces.
GOODMAN: The editor of the Bismarck Tribune apologized for their coverage the next day when they just brought out the views of the sheriff who wasn’t even there and the security guards. We were there on the ground. I talked to the security guards and the protestors alike. The security guards didn’t want to talk very much but they said a few things and we captured the entire scene on the ground.
NOOR: Corporate media had largely ignored or downplayed the coalescing movement against the Dakota Access pipeline. But as the Real News and other independent media has reported, that fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline had already spawned the largest convergence of native tribes in recent memory.
GOODMAN: The reason they took our credit and we welcome them. Steal the story please. Is because they weren’t there. So they showed all over the world, this video got shown. We left the next day. But 5 days later on the eve of a major court decision, the North Dakota Governor, Dalrymple, called out the National Guard. On that same day, the state of North Dakota issued an arrest warrant. I think it’s very clear what’s taking place. And that is that the authorities in the state of North Dakota don’t want us shining our cameras where it matters. For people to be able to speak for themselves, to describe their own experience. Democracy Now, this daily grassroots, global news outlet, covers movements. It’s our job to go to where the silence is.
NOOR: McLean County State’s Attorney Ladd Erickson, who is trying the case told the Bismarck Tribune. “She’s a protester, basically. Everything she reported on was from the position of justifying the protest actions.”
GOODMAN: The important issue is that the prosecutor is raising the content of our coverage. That is why we have a first amendment. It’s the separation of the state from journalism. You know we are not supposed to have state journalism here. There’s a reason why our profession is the only one explicitly protected in the US constitution, because we’re supposed to be the check and balance on power. If the state doesn’t like what we are reporting, that is not an arrestable offense. If it is, our democracy is in big trouble.
NOOR: The protests are not letting up. 27 were arrested on Tuesday. This week, another media professional, award winning filmmaker Deia Schlosberg was charged with 3 felony counts for covering a protest. She could face up to 45 years in jail.
GOODMAN: These are historic front line struggles. It’s our job to be there. It’s our job to cover them. The state might not want us to shine the spotlight here but that is what we are supposed to be doing. You know the first amendment is not only about the press and freedom of the press. It is important because it is about the public’s right to know. In order to have a meaningful democracy, people have to know what is happening so they can make up their own informed minds. That’s why it’s so important that we’re on the front lines covering what’s happening.
People are putting their bodies on the line. Quite literally. People are putting their bodies on the pipeline. It’s a historic struggle by all accounts and it’s our job to be there. They shouldn’t be arresting journalism.
NOOR: Hundreds have been arrested protesting the $3.8-billion-dollar pipeline that would span 5 states if completed. It’s being backed by wealthy financial institutions and Donald Trump has personal investments in the pipeline. He nor Hillary Clinton have publicly commented on its construction.
GOODMAN: Well you know Jaisal, look at the period of time we’re in. At a time of presidential election that is absolutely critical, the debate’s hardly raising the issue of climate change. The Vice Presidential debate in the midst of Hurricane Matthew as a thousand people were dying in Haiti. At least 39 people have died in south eastern United States in North Carolina. A number of them died of drowning when the rivers were rising. This is an absolutely critical time to take on this issue. If the elected leaders are not doing it, the people who are doing it are on the ground. It’s our job not just to put a microphone to those in power, cover these debates where they’re not asked about climate change. We’re talking about the fate of the planet.
Democracy Now goes to every UN climate summit. We’re there in Copenhagen and Cancun. We’re there in Durbin and Doha. We were there in Peru and Poland and Paris this past year. Marrakech is the next one up in Morocco. Climate change is a critical issue of the day. It’s the media’s responsibility to question these politicians about this and if they’re not going to do it, it’s our job to get out there and cover the people who are. And the people who are on the ground right now in North Dakota and it’s our job to be there.
NOOR: Goodman also has a long history of cutting edge journalism and putting her own body on the line to expose human rights abuses. Her work has earned her dozens of awards including the 2008 Right Livelihood Award- considered the alternative Nobel.
Goodman is set to turn herself in on Monday. For the Real News, this is Jaisal Noor.
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