Why Is North Dakota Arresting Journalists For Doing Journalism?

from the this-won't-end-well dept

Two years ago, we wrote about the ridiculousness of police arresting reporters for reporting in Ferguson, Missouri, even though courts had told police to knock it off. Even more ridiculous is that those reporters were eventually charged, leading to a ridiculous settlement earlier this year.

And yet… arresting journalists for doing journalism continues to be a thing. As you probably know, there have been a bunch of protests in North Dakota lately concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline. Back in September, after covering the protests and having some of her videos of an attack on the protestors go viral, famed Democracy Now reporter Amy Goodman found out an arrest warrant had been issued for her. It’s pretty clear that this arrest warrant was solely because of the coverage reflecting poorly on officials.

On Thursday, Goodman said that she’ll surrender to authorities next week. As Democracy Now points out, the criminal complaint against her is so transparently unconstitutional and so transparently about intimidating reporters, that it actually notes that “Amy Goodman can be seen on the video identifying herself and interviewing protesters about their involvement in the protest.” Right. That’s called journalism. Goodman was basically arrested for doing journalism that the powers-that-be dislike.

Organizations that fight for free speech for journalists are condemning all of this. The Committee to Protect Journalists notes that this is “a transparent attempt to intimidate reporters from covering protests of significant public interest” while the Freedom of the Press Foundation is demanding that North Dakota drop the charges.

And they may want to seriously consider dropping the charges and walking away. After all, Goodman was also arrested for covering protests back in 2008, and that eventually ended with the police and local governments having to pay her $100,000 for violating her civil rights.

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Comments on “Why Is North Dakota Arresting Journalists For Doing Journalism?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It may have something to do with the gov, but it also has to do with her breaking the law to get her story. Being a reporter doesnt mean she can do anything she wants for a story and then just walk away. The original group of protesters are nearly gone now with only agitators left who are mostly from out of state.

Norahc (profile) says:

Re: Re: This will continue

Looking at the ND criminal trespass code, either law enforcement told her to leave, the people in charge of the property told her to leave, or the SAG is stretching the definition of a highly secured area.

http://www.legis.nd.gov/cencode/t12-1c22.pdf#nameddest=12p1-22-03. (PDF)

Unless we can find out how the complaint originated, I can’t answer that yet.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: This will continue

Well I think big issue is that the “punishment” for them braking the law is that tax payers get to pay the fine. Hard to convince police that they need to behave if you punish the tax payers instead on the police.

If every time I got caught speeding I would get a ticket saying someone else had to pay the fine, I would drive 100 mph everywhere I go.

David says:

Re: Re: This will continue

Well I think big issue is that the “punishment” for them braking the law is that tax payers get to pay the fine. Hard to convince police that they need to behave if you punish the tax payers instead on the police.

So? With average or higher intelligence you are not eligible as a patrol officer, and they get trained by good ole boys. And then you want to dock their pay for doing what they don’t know better?

I do think that the approach of letting the tax payer pay is not the worst one. But the local tax payers, and send them itemized bills. And maybe they will then fscking stop electing politicians into office who promise the most stupid law&order campaigns. Oh, and if a local tax payer has to default on his police payments, forward the bills to the city officials.

Because it is hard to blame morons for doing what they are taught to do. You have to hit someone in the pocket, hard, who actually is accountable for the structures leading to the systematic misuse of police as a local terror cell.

Quiet Lurcker says:

Re: Re: Re: This will continue

So you’re saying in part, “don’t blame the uniforms, blame the ones above them, because the uniformed personnel are stupid, and selected on that basis”?

That reminds me of the old – and lame, let’s not forget lame – joke about the man who complained to his doctor that his arm hurt when he moved it a certain way. The doctor’s advice was basically, “so don’t do that”.

Well, maybe the police supervisors need to follow that advice when selecting new uniformed personnel, and we the voters need to do much the same thing with our elected officials.

Problem is, we generally don’t elect judges. There are states where that does happen, and I’m ambivalent about whether it’s a good thing or not. Same thing for prosecutors. I suspect some are elected, some appointed; never bothered to look that up. So, how to get rid of the judge who signed the warrant if (s)he wasn’t elected. Or the appointed prosecutor who made application for the warrant to begin with? We can maybe toss the politico who appointed the judge, but that doesn’t remove the judge.

Mary-Lee says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Reply to: Re:

The “ends” is that before Amy Goodman’s report most of the country was unaware of this protest. As a result of Amy Goodman’s reporting, people who listen to her program became aware as well as literally millions on Facebook and other social media. No one is telling the people what to think. They can come to their own conclusions. But they need to know this is happening, that people are actually stopping a pipeline from being put in place, particularly after the pipeline leaks in Arkansas, Wyoming, California, Missouri, Yellowstone Park, and even in another area of North Dakota.
I knew about the protests because I know one of the men who is protesting. Certainly not everyone knows someone. We rely on the media to tell us what is going on in the nation. When the mainstream media fails, we rely on Amy Goodman, and she never fails.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“that they use journalism as an excuse to further their own ends is.”

Point is that First Amendment protects speech, period, full stop. There is no “unless your speaking to further your own ends”. Your motives have NOTHING to do with the protection offered. Your allowed to say anything you want for any reason you want, so long as you are doing something in the very narrow list of exceptions. (Those being defamation and yelling fire etc.)

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

I suspect he’s referring to this, via Popehat:

Three Generations of a Hackneyed Apologia for Censorship Are Enough

Basically, “you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater” was an analogy used by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. to uphold Charles Schenck’s conviction under the Espionage Act. Schenck’s crime was criticizing the draft during World War I.

Subsequent courts have disagreed pretty strongly with this interpretation, and what Shenck was convicted for would certainly be considered protected speech today.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Well, I mean, it’s true as far as it goes. If somebody did yell “fire” in a crowded theater, and there was no fire, and the person knew there was no fire, and it resulted in people being injured, then yes, this would absolutely be a First Amendment exception.

The problem isn’t in the example itself, it’s in how it’s used, and how it’s been used since the very beginning. Just because yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is unprotected speech doesn’t mean that protesting the draft is unprotected speech. All it means is that (1) some speech is unprotected, and (2) specifically, speech that is intentionally designed to cause immediate physical harm is unprotected.

And the latter is a very narrow category.

Regret says:

Do reporters have a right to trespass?


Whether or not you support the protesters cause or the government’s action, there seems to be a valid claim that reporters don’t necessarily get to trespass when they want to cover a story. Yeah, maybe the government is more eager to prosecute if they would like to shut the reporter up, but isn’t risk of criminal trespass something a reporter covering a protest might expect? Doesn’t seem black and white to me.

Ruby says:

Re: Re:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

I just…that’s……WHAT???

How can you not be able to figure out something so basic?!

John Mayor says:


It could be the “Right’s” attempt to further interfer with coverage of Anti Pipeline challenges! The “Right” is tied to “Oil interests”!… these “interests” are in trouble these days!… and these “interests” desire to stem the tide of Sustainable Energy progression (i.e., Renewable Energy progression!)!
Please!… no emails!

Anonymous Coward says:

I live near this

Whats happening is nothing like what the media is showing. Damage and destruction to property, vandalism, trespassing on private land, etc… This report has a right to get a story, but it doesnt mean she can commit the same crimes to get it. Dont just jump on the bandwagon of how bad everyone else is, this protest stopped being about the pipeline a long time ago. Even the original head of it is trying to get some distance from what the people there now are doing.

Mary-Lee says:

Re: Reply to: I live near this

The protectors are camped on private land WITH THE OWNER’S PERMISSION. They are protesting on land that belongs either to the Army Corps of Engineers or the energy companies that are building the pipeline. They do not destroy or damage land belonging to private citizens. In fact, they do not destroy of damage ANY land. Their goal is to preserve the land as it is. Stop lying! Coward, indeed.

Ryunosuke (profile) says:

i may have a solution to a LOT of politician problems....

I propose that to hold a public office (mayor, governor, legislator), you NEED to pass a High School Equivalency test in Social Sudies/US Civics every 6 months, because politicians have the memory of a goldfish apparently. These are BASIC CIVICS lessons folks, and our public officials are failing at that.

John Mayor says:

Re: i may have a solution to a LOT of politician problems....

Better still, would be to require Faculties of Education worldwide to CERTIFY teachers in the Behavioral Sciences (i.e., INTRApersonal and INTERpersonal Intelligence… the three “I_s”!) in order to be come a teacher!… and thereby, to both instruct and assess (from K to post-grad!) the Behavioral Development of ALL STUDENTS (and regardless of A-N-Y A-N-D A-L-L “other” academic pursuits a student may have!)! In other words, you don’t get to become a teacher, unless you are equipped in the Behavioral Sciences! And!… as a student!… you don’t get to proceed IN ANY OTHER FIELD unless you are equipped with the prequalifications of INTRApersonal and INTERpersonal Intelligence!
Further!… the W-H-O-L-E O-F E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N should be brought within the framework of the MEDICAL MODEL (i.e., a MACRO and MICRO/ LOCAL Public Health Model, and a MACRO and MICRO/ LOCAL Environmental Health Model!)! And inasmuch, as there is NO GREATER FIELD through which A-L-L O-T-H-E-R F-I-E-L-D-S on planet earth can, and should be vetted, than Health!
Lastly, in order to “kickstart” the necessary revamping of our pedagogies, would be to MANDATE that Faculties of Education Certify teachers in four essential prequalifications: Applied and Theoretical Teaching (what the teacher is all about!… and regardless of what subjects are being taught!), and Applied and Theoretical Learning (what the student is all about!… and regardless of what subjects students are learning!)! In MANDATING these FOUR PILLARS through our Faculties of Educations, teachers would be equipped with the BARE ESSENTIALS necessary, to facilitate proper teaching, and learning! But, beyond this, MANDATING the Behavioral Sciences through our Faculties of Education, would then bring teachers’ skill sets far beyond mere teaching and learning!… and into to the realm of “Behavioral Health”! And once our Pedagogies begin to entertain Behavioral Health, it’s then a “stone’s throw away” to a C-O-M-P-L-E-T-E-L-Y H-E-A-L-T-H I-N-T-E-G-R-A-T-E-D E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N-A-L M-O-D-E-L!… and therewith, dumping the “legacy” of our F-A-I-L-E-D “Educational Systems”!
To sum up… and to be frank!… NO advanced civilization anywhere within our universe, would base their educational systems… and society!… on anything less, than a T-O-T-A-L C-O-M-M-I-T-M-E-N-T T-O A-N I-N-T-E-G-R-A-T-E-D H-E-A-L-T-H M-O-D-E-L! And thereby, leaving only TWO CLASSES of citizens:… those in need of “healing”, and those able to heal! And!… NO MATTER WHAT OTHER “OCCUPATION” A CITIZEN MAY POSSESS… W-H-A-T-S-O-E-V-E-R!… H-E-A-L-T-H WOULD BE AT THE CENTER OF IT, OR, IT WOULD BE ELIMINATED FROM SOCIETY (which should bring to mind the ages old quote: “You’re either part of the problem, or you’re part of the solution”!… and… a quote attributed to Christ: “Let your communication be yea, or nay!…”)
Please!… no emails!
P.S.: for an overview of how a revamped Pedagogy would look, secure an “interlibrary loan” of the work, The Death of Psychiatry, by Dr. Edwin Fuller Torrey! And on an overview of a GLOBAL HEALTH RESTRUCTURING of our many “social infrastructural components”, I would suggest an online review of our global health care bodies (such as the World Health Organization, and the World Health Assembly!… and etc.!), and organizations which are pursuing “complex systems research (e.g., the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis!… and etc.!… and see also, the Yearbook of International Organizations, from the Union of International Associations!)”!

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Perhaps it should be a law that the first time it happens you get the 100,000 settlement and everytime some idiot tries to do the same thing just add a 0.

The law is clear and until the punishments really hurt they will continue. Those involved in signing off on this case would be hard pressed to explain giving away 1,000,000 of public funds. Imagine the next time when its 10,000,000. We need to hold our leaders responsible & stop allowing them to hide behind a shield when they ignore the law & should be punished.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Compensation

Yeah, $100,00 is pocket change for the government. It should have been at least $1,000,000. Even though Goodman went through the “system”, the remedy so was so inadequate that it did not discourage the same thing from happening again.

So what do you do if the remedy available in court is inadequate? I know what the founders of the United States did.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: "Someone else is paying my fine? Cool, I promise I'll absolutely not do that again then."

$100,000 would be plenty if it were applied properly. Hit the wallets of those involved directly, don’t shift it off to the general public or city/state budget, make those that committed the action that was found bad enough to warrant a fine personally pay, and do that in every such case.

Police abuse their authority so badly that they get slapped down by a court and a monetary award is handed out? Fired immediately if the offense was bad enough(and if a judge is willing to crack down on a cop this is pretty much guaranteed, given how insanely high a bar that is) and make the officers and their supervisors personally liable for the amount.

Politician or other ‘public servant’ use their position for personal gain? Removed from office/job immediately, and assuming the abuse of authority wasn’t seriously over the top make them pay back the court levied fine before they can run for office again or attempt to be employed by the government/city/state again, rather than just dumping the fine on the public and leaving the guilty party off the hook.

Fines would work if they were aimed properly, as it stands they just result in the public being hosed over twice, the first time from the original abuse of power/authority and then being forced to foot the bill from it.

Anon-E-Mouse-Owl says:


1. The land is owned by the Native Americans.
2. They wanted her there.
3. Just because you have an easement doesn’t mean it’s *yours* – the pipeline company owns only the equipment and hardware, not the land. That’s why it’s called an easement and not a transfer of land ownership.

Amy Goodman wasn’t trespassing. It’s not the pipeline company’s land.

I hope she gets a good chunk of money. Stupid should hurt.

Carl (profile) says:

Amy Goodwin

“they use journalism as an excuse to further their own ends”

Just like your comment? It’s called the free press.

You, my friend, exhibit a microcosm of a dangerous trend in this nation — the same trend that’s polling 40% for Donald Trump’s brand of demagogic fascism, really little different than Italy 1925-45. It’s a good thing we’re not in a depression (yet). Trump would probably win.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Amy Goodwin

US government HAS turned into 1984.

Except with technology to spy on citizens that George Orwell could only dream of giving to Big Brother.

If Orwell wrote 1984 50 years ago, using todays illegal spying and assassinations of ‘US citizens the government doesn’t like’, it’d be laughed at as silly and extremely unrealistic.

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