Last Thursday, an arrest warrant was issued under the header “North Dakota versus Amy Goodman.” The charge was for criminal trespass. The actual crime? Journalism. We went to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to cover the growing opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Global attention has become focused on the struggle since Labor Day weekend, after pipeline guards unleashed attack dogs and pepper spray on Native American protesters. On that Saturday, at least six bulldozers were carving up the land along the pipeline route, where archeological and sacred sites had been discovered by the tribe. The Dakota Access Pipeline company obtained the locations of these sites just the day before, in a court filing made by the tribe. Many feel that the company razed the area, destroying the sites, before an injunction could be issued to study them.
Scores of people, mostly Native American, raced to the scene, demanding the bulldozers leave. The guards pepper-sprayed, punched and tackled the land defenders. Attack dogs were unleashed, biting at least six people and one horse.
We were there, filming the guards’ violence. When we released our video of the standoff, it went viral, attracting more than 13 million views on Facebook alone. CNN, CBS, MSNBC and scores of outlets around the world broadcast our footage of one of the attack dogs with blood dripping from its nose and mouth.
Five days after the attack, North Dakota issued the arrest warrant. North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Lindsey Wohl, referencing the “Democracy Now!” video report in a sworn affidavit, states, “Amy Goodman can be seen on the video identifying herself and interviewing protestors about their involvement in the protest.” Precisely the point: doing the constitutionally protected work of a reporter.