Prosecutors Changing Charges Against Reporter To 'Rioting' Because Her Coverage Was Sympathetic To Protestors

from the can-we-teach-you-a-little-about-the-first-amendment? dept

On Friday, we wrote about the ridiculous arrest warrant for reporter Amy Goodman for reporting on the protests over the North Dakota oil pipeline. At the time, the charges against Goodman were apparently for trespassing, but late on Friday, the state’s attorney alerted Goodman’s lawyer that they were now actually trying to charge her with rioting. Say what?

?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.”

Apparently, the state’s attorney, Ladd Erickson, figured out enough about the law to realize that trespassing charges would never stick because there needs to be notice before it’s trespassing, and no notice was presented. But Erickson is still really, really confused about how the First Amendment works. He told a local newspaper that Goodman’s reporting was illegal because it was sympathetic to the protestors. Really.

?She?s a protester, basically. Everything she reported on was from the position of justifying the protest actions,? said Erickson

That’s uh, not how the First Amendment works. And it will be fascinating to see Erickson try to now justify the “riot” claims when the complaint itself admits that Goodman was interviewing protestors. Apparently the judge will decide later today if the riot charges will stand. One hopes that he understands the First Amendment more than the state’s attorney.

Filed Under: , , , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Prosecutors Changing Charges Against Reporter To 'Rioting' Because Her Coverage Was Sympathetic To Protestors”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
That One Guy (profile) says:

Voice support for anyone but those in charge? Oh you better believe that's a crime.

So because she wrote in support of the protesters she gets saddled with anything they might have done. Oh yeah, they’re not even pretending this isn’t about chilling speech and punishing her for saying things they didn’t like.

Hopefully the judge at least isn’t as petty and vindictive and tosses the case as completely absurd and an abuse of the court system.

Paul Renault (profile) says:

Up next: charging 'The Truth' with rioting because..

.. it happens to be sympathetic to rioters.

Of course, given how long, if ever, that it usually takes for The Truth to emerge, at least The Truth can rest easy knowing that the Stature of Limitations will have long run out.

Of course, that won’t keep some dim-witted, illiterate who’s running for re-election as county sheriff from trying.

TruthHurts (profile) says:

Can't wait to see Erickson in prison for kidnapping...

Since Erickson’s actions were illegal, I can’t wait to see a whole list of charges filed against him.

False arrest, false imprisonment, falsifying charges (she wasn’t rioting or trespassing, kidnapping (due to the false arrest and imprisonment)..

Grabbing my bag of popcorn to enjoy watching Erickson flush his career and freedom down the toilet.

techno says:

Re: Can't wait to see Erickson in prison for kidnapping...

I’m sure it’s the same as police. As long as they are stupid they get more leeway because they were reasonably trying to do their job right, they don’t actually have to be knowledgeable about their exact field. It’s more of a feeling you know.

TruthHurts (profile) says:

Re: Re: Can't wait to see Erickson in prison for kidnapping...

Since the AG’s job is to prosecute people based on the law, I believe the level of ignorance allowed is much closer to 0% than the 99% allowed for ignorant cops.

At least I’d hope so.

There’s an idea, perhaps we should require mandatory competency, morality and ethics testing prior to someone taking those positions, with annual refresh training to keep them current.

If I were to submit to my knee-jerk reaction, I might say something like…

“I also think a zero tolerance policy should be implemented for anyone in law enforcement, prosecution and adjudication roles, with a 1 strike and you’re out, or in, as it should include mandatory life imprisonment @ Gitmo.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Can't wait to see Erickson in prison for kidnapping...

You are mistaken sir!

Hanlon’s Razor
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity,”

You are advocating that this is true, I submit that Hanlon’s Razor is speech fit only for a fool.

Government is a beast that tirelessly works toward tyranny. There is nothing it does that is explainable by stupidity, incompetence, or ignorance. It’s nature is the destruction of the people. Government has slaughtered more people, taken more property, and visited misery more than all wars and crime combined! Any perceived stupidity, incompetence, or ignorance from them is nothing more than a tool in their arsenal to obfuscate the truth of their malice. All members of government are humans that see in themselves something great and deserving of respect from others… and if you do not deliver that respect in the way that they proscribe… then your misery will be the result. They can murder you, separate you from family, and/or take all that you own without much resistance.

We ARE in a police state… the only question is how much power this police state is prepared to flex and when? not if.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

From the North Dakota Criminal Code

CHAPTER 12.1-25
12.1-25-01. Inciting riot.
1. A person is guilty of an offense if he:
a. Incites or urges five or more persons to create or engage in a riot; or
b. Gives commands, instructions, or directions to five or more persons in
furtherance of a riot.
2. “Riot” means a public disturbance involving an assemblage of five or more persons
which by tumultuous and violent conduct creates grave danger of damage or injury to
property or persons or substantially obstructs law enforcement or other government
3. A person shall be convicted under section 12.1-06-01, 12.1-06-03, or 12.1-06-04 of
attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit an offense under this section only if he
engages in the prohibited conduct under circumstances in which there is a substantial
likelihood that his conduct will imminently produce a violation of this section.
4. The offense is a class C felony if it is under subdivision b of subsection 1 and the riot
involves one hundred or more persons. Otherwise it is a class A misdemeanor.
12.1-25-02. Arming rioters.
1. A person is guilty of a class C felony if he:
a. Knowingly supplies a firearm, dangerous weapon, or destructive device for use in
a riot;
b. Teaches another to prepare or use a firearm, dangerous weapon, or destructive
device with intent that any such thing be used in a riot; or
c. While engaging in a riot, is knowingly armed with a firearm, dangerous weapon,
or destructive device.
2. “Riot” has the meaning prescribed in section 12.1-25-01.
12.1-25-03. Engaging in a riot.
1. A person is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if he engages in a riot, as defined in
section 12.1-25-01.
2. The provisions of subsection 3 of section 12.1-25-01 are applicable to attempt,
solicitation, and conspiracy to commit an offense under this section. Mere presence at
a riot is not an offense under this section.
12.1-25-04. Disobedience of public safety orders under riot conditions.
A person is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if, during a riot as defined in section
12.1-25-01, or when one is immediately impending, he disobeys a reasonable public safety
order to move, disperse, or refrain from specified activities in the immediate vicinity of the riot. A
public safety order is an order designed to prevent or control disorder, or promote the safety of
persons or property, issued by the senior law enforcement official on the scene.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“12.1-25-04. Disobedience of public safety orders under riot conditions.”

Looks like the reporter can be put in jail for this as long as one police officer on the scene told them to stop filming or really just fucking breathing and/or leave the entire vicinity.

Hope they go right to fucking jail. Not because they should, but to show these fucked up laws for what they are and maybe, just maybe, get the proper attention! I would say I feel sorry for them, but the media has been busy promoting tyranny on behalf of the government, maybe they should be feeling the lick of its flames?

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Peaceful protests turn into “riots” ONLY… when police show up in riot gear.

“2. “Riot” means a public disturbance involving an assemblage of five or more persons which by tumultuous and violent conduct creates grave danger of damage or injury to
property or persons or substantially obstructs law enforcement or other government
Seems to me the only ones acting this way were the police.

John Mayor says:


I think if Erickson can show that Goodman owns and drives an electric car, he may be able to demonstrate that this “reporter” is demonstrating bias! Further!… if he can also show that Goodman likes horses!… and canoeing!… she’s history! And!… if Erickson can prove that Goodman likes campfires, and native songs!… and toasted marshmallows!… she’ll get life! Mark my words!
Please!… no emails!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A little history lesson

Most people don’t know it

When it comes to history, that is the all encompassing problem. No one gives a shit, are doomed to repeat it, and will absolutely without fail double down on the stupid until it is in their fucking face with a muzzle or a jackboot upon the back of their necks.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Not to mention:

“Everything she reported on was from the position of justifying the protest actions”

So, if she had done the same thing but said they were wrong while doing so, she’d not be charged? Nice of him to be honest, I suppose.

The sad thing is, these would probably be the first people to condemn a Chinese or Russian authority for going after a reporter in the same way, yet they won’t see the issue with doing it here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

They don’t have to see the issue here. The EFF and others are going to make sure that everyone involved in this farce is removed from power by the next election… No wait that is a fantasy and the reality is that America is now controlled by people who do not care about our rights or freedoms.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Just like WMDs has had it definition changed from Nuclear, Biological and chemical, to include improvised pressure cooker bombs. It how governments get laws passed. that reduce the rights of people, because it only affects a small minority ob bad people, and then expand the definition to include everybody they do not like..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The same thing is true of urban gatherings, whether actual protests of not. For example, when people in Baltimore gathered to mourn slain rapper Lor Scoota, the BPD showed up in riot gear and provoked a confrontation. There was no need for riot gear. There was really very little need for ANY police presence. But apparently when black people gather, even to express their collective grief, this is viewed a a threat that must be met with force.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Same here except it doesn’t matter if you are black or white as long as you don’t agree with the Government and go protest. I’ve seen it live. The protest was pacific and very organized for a good while and the cops that were there were actually being helpful. Then the Govt deployed the riot troop. Needless to say things went downhill very fast. Many illegal arrests, people injured and even journalists were victims. One lost an eye because the cops were aiming at the head on purpose.

As I said, dark times. Not only in the US.

David says:

Justice light.

Apparently the judge will decide later today if the riot charges will stand. One hopes that he understands the First Amendment more than the states attorney.

You might think that a judge can always fix up the crap a state attorney cranks out. But unless you are rich, the state attorney is judge and jury for you, never mind the Constitution: either you accept his verdict, or you pay down a $20000 penalty in the form of legal bills. On top of the actual penalty, of course, even if there is none.

While the state attorney is being paid for his efforts even when creating an absolute turd of a case tanking like a lead duck.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Justice light.

Most states elect their AG’s.

Every Nation gets the government it deserves!

The People will take care of the problem when it gets bad enough. It certainly sucks for all of the martyrs thought. You have to do a lot of amazingly evil things to get The People off their asses though.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Justice light.

We DO have a voice, you just don’t know where to exercise it to greatest effect. You and about 99% of America.

You have 3 voices and I will list them in the order of importance.

1. Jury, here you have the power to 100% halt the system of corruption ruining peoples lives. The founders directly stated “who better to protect us from tyranny than our neighbors?” The voice serves both local and federal venues! The vast majority will never have a more powerful voice than here!

2. The Press, that is IF you can get them to pay any mind to your plight. The 1st Amendment is powerful and with enough people and support you might be able to make a change, or shaming officials into backing off, but is hardly as fool proof as the 1st. Public opinion is a fickle thing. It justifies and condemns good and evil alike!

3. Your congress critters, they make the laws and can be bought, you can remove them but you have to fight an uphill battle through entire throngs of fucking mad idiots lost in their own fantasies. The fight for the successor is equally as painful as the typical cure for the 1st cancer is only the addition of a 2nd cancer.

Notice I did not even bother bringing up the election for president or other political offices, and for a very fucking good reason. Congress is the real power, and because of that, it is also why it has the most people. Congress could silence POTUS and could bring SCOTUS to heel if so desired. Of course the States could fuck them all up should there be significant enough will, but there looks to be little of that will in existence. There is a malaise called federal money that keeps states is SOLID CHECK in cases were they try to go solo too much from federal wishes.

I understand WHY you think you have no voice, but you have one. Use it or lose it! Next time you are called for jury duty, do your duty and do not shirk it. Sure it may not appear to be as glorious as voting in the next worthless skank of a president, but it is far more fucking effective to keep the innocent free and tyranny at bay!

Go and reclaim your voice, let no one silence it!
Avoiding turning yourself against your fellow citizens should they have voted in terrible people, you cannot afford to lose them, but you can always afford to lose a few corrupt politicians. The politicians rely up us fighting each other over petty ideals so that we lose focus.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Justice light.

  1. even hint that you know what jury nullification is, and you’ll be on the next bus leaving the courthouse…
    2. if by ‘press’ you mean the 1% of the alternative media which is the voice of the 99%; versus the 99% of the mainstream media voicing the propaganda of the 1%; then there is no contest on the saturation/domination of the mainstream/korporate media…
    3. computer-based voting systems are NOT trustworthy, period…
    check and mate…
    so, now that leaves, um, hmmm…
    sternly worded letters to the editor ? ? ?
Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Justice light.

While it’s true that voting computers are not secure, the threat of exploiting them to hijack an election tends to be overblown.

First of all, the election has to be close enough to steal. If the results of an election are far outside what was expected, then that’s going to attract an investigation.

Second, there are other, easier ways of undermining elections. You’ve hit on one of them already: money in politics. Why risk being caught influencing elections by compromising the voting machines when you can just spend as much money as you want to influence voters and politicians?

There are other ways of influencing elections, too — voter ID laws that are ostensibly intended to prevent criminals and noncitizens from voting often target demographics that the legislators don’t like. And, fitting with that theme, Trump currently seems to be calling on his supporters to harass and intimidate anybody who they think looks suspicious.

Given all those options for influencing an election, going to the trouble of compromising voting machines is downright inefficient.

I’m not saying we don’t have a problem with our voting machines. We do. They’re a mess and they should all be recycled, and we should go back to good old-fashioned pen and paper. But as attack vectors go, they’re not one of the ones I’m most worried about.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Justice light.

While it’s true that voting computers are not secure, the threat of exploiting them to hijack an election tends to be overblown.

I remember that at one of the last election they had some serious coverup work to do because the absolute number of votes for one candidate went down after the votes for a particular precinct were included, so they had to massage the numbers to make them look more plausible.

And that was at the tallying stage.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Justice light.

Bloomberg had a fantastic article on this subject a few weeks ago: The Computer Voting Revolution Is Already Crappy, Buggy, and Obsolete

That story might have held up if Smith, a financial software developer and church organist, hadn’t been conducting an election night experiment. In his free time, Smith crunches voter-turnout data with programs he’s written to help local politicians target their direct-mail campaigns. Like Smith, most of his clients are black, and he had bet a friend 10 candy bars that the polling place at Unity Christian Church, a black congregation a mile from Graceland, would have a big turnout. The precinct, No. 77-01, is a Democratic stronghold and has one of the largest concentrations of African American voters in a city known for racially fractured politics. Smith’s guess: 600 votes. When the polls closed at 7 p.m., he was at Unity Christian and snapped some photos with his BlackBerry of the precinct’s poll tape—literally a tally of the votes printed on white paper tape and posted on a church window. Since the printouts come directly from the voting machines at each location, election officials consider it the most trustworthy count. According to the tape, Smith’s guess was close: 546 people had cast ballots.

When he got an e-mail a week later with Shelby County’s first breakdown of each precinct’s voting, he ran down the list to the one precinct where he knew the tally for sure. The count for Unity Christian showed only 330 votes. Forty percent of the votes had disappeared.

I’m not sure if that’s the same example you’re talking about, but a couple things about it in case it is:

  1. This appears to have been caused by a bug, not intentional tampering. Hanlon’s razor: don’t blame malice for that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.
  2. It is possible that this swung an election for a city council seat. It’s also possible that it didn’t. Like I said, an election has to be close before its outcome can really be impacted.

But this reinforces what I’m saying (especially in the last paragraph of my post): electronic voting machines are bad and should be scrapped immediately, but as far as election tampering goes, there are other methods I’m more worried about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Justice light.

Until elections allow the electorate to reject all the candidates, and call for a new set of candidates, they are limited to selecting from the first set put forward. Without that power, many people abstain from voting because they cannot support any of the candidates, and have no way of making their voice heard.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Justice light.

I am in the crowd that abstains. I do not require a perfect candidate, but I cannot abhor a corrupt one or an evil one.

Hillary is a true professional when it comes to using corruption to disguise her brand of evil.

Trump is a true professional at distracting everyone’s outrage for his personal gain. He does not even attempt to hide his evil, it is on full display.

The difference between the two? Trump will stab you in your face and laugh… Hillary, she stabs you in the back and laughs! You pick the one you think is worse!

We will have better candidates when the people make it clear we will refuse to vote in either of the parties until they clean up the corruption. We just have to make it clear and from the looks of things… so very few are interested.

Padpaw (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Justice light.

supposedly you Americans have 2 other candidates running for president, though the media apparently refuses to let their voices be heard. That whole bought and paid going for the media by those that do not want the status quo to change from only 2 parties to vote for. When in reality it is 1 party with public faces.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Justice light.

It’s a bit more complicated than that.

A first-past-the-post electoral system, by its nature, leads to a two-party system.

And while I’m not a fan of the media’s treatment of third-party candidates, Johnson and Stein specifically have not acquitted themselves well.

And aside from the media, the two major parties have a vested interest in maintaining their power. After Ross Perot was allowed into a presidential debate in 1992, the Debate Commission changed its rules to make it much more difficult for that to happen in the future.

All that said, in an election between the most unpopular major-party candidate in recorded history and the second-most unpopular, this really should have been a year for third-party candidates to achieve some success, and that hasn’t happened. Johnson’s polling higher than Libertarians typically do (and may do well enough that the party qualifies for matching funds in four years — it’d be ironic for the Libertarian Party to accept government funding, but it could happen), and a fifth candidate, Evan McMullin, has a small but significant chance of winning Utah, so it’s fair to say that candidates outside the major parties are doing better this election than usual. But I don’t think they’re doing nearly as well as they should be under the circumstances.

BernardoVerda says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Justice light.

> After studying the election process in 1985, the bipartisan National Commission on Elections recommended “[t]urning over the sponsorship of Presidential debates to the two major parties”.[2] The CPD was established in 1987 by the chairmen of the Democratic and Republican Parties to “take control of the Presidential debates”.[2] The commission was staffed by members from the two parties and chaired by the heads of the Democratic and Republican parties, Paul G. Kirk and Frank Fahrenkopf.[2] At a 1987 press conference announcing the commission’s creation, Fahrenkopf said that the commission was not likely to include third-party candidates in debates, and Kirk said he personally believed they should be excluded from the debates.[2]
> In 1988, the League of Women Voters withdrew its sponsorship of the presidential debates after the George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis campaigns secretly agreed to a “memorandum of understanding” that would decide which candidates could participate in the debates, which individuals would be panelists (and therefore able to ask questions), and the height of the lecterns. The League rejected the demands and released a statement saying that they were withdrawing support for the debates because “the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter.”[4]
> The CPD has hosted the 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 debates.

The “Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD)” is a classic “Old Boys’ Club” deliberately and consciously created to serve the interests of the two major parties over the interests of the general public.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“..State’s Attorney Ladd Erickson is being paid by outside interests to violate the law..”

Yes – that is the only thing that makes sense. If he is blatantly breaking the law, there must be some incentive.

Good thing she was not in the Constitution free zone – else a visit to the doctor.

techdirtReader (profile) says:

This shall pass.

I suspect this won’t go very far. The judge will rule in Goodman’s favor or the charges will be dropped.

Under ordinary circumstances, the DA of North Dakota would follow through with his trumped up charges and win. But for this particular instance, Goodman is to well known. Such chicanery will go viral, bringing in more coverage and making the DA and the state a laughing stock. The effect will be similar to the Streisand effect.

Its in the DA’s best interests to let this one go and not draw too much attention to standard, small state chicanery tactics.

Thomas Metcalf says:

Amy Goodman and Democracy Now

Shame on you Mr.Erickson for infringing on the rights of The Free Press in violation of their First Amendment Rights in bringing charges against Reporter Amy Goodman of Democracy Now who was doing her job for The People of The United States of America.You sir are in violation of said rights which is a treasonous act against The United States,our Constitution,and The People. You sir are the one who should be in jail and on trial for your treasonous act against the Freedom of The Press which is guaranteed by our Constitution.
You sir and people like you are not the solution but the problem!

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Protecting corporate interests… the job of the state.
Perhaps its time we stop being distracted by shitty unimportant things & ask why support for corporations is the best use of tax dollars.
Perhaps if we started throwing those beholden to their corporate masters out of office, we might manage to elect those who put the actual people before corporate greed.

Wendy Cockcroft (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Because we’ve been told that if we load up the tables of the corporations, they’ll “trickle down” some crumbs to the plebiscite, i.e. peons like us.

As long as people believe that “government” in and of itself is Dick Turpin on steroids, this nonsense will continue.

This is the funniest part of the whole “corporations are people, my friend,” thing: they have loads of rights but are not obliged to take responsibility for anything. In short, fetishising capitalism has got us where we are today and stopping that will move us forward to a better future.

We need capitalism, but as our servant, not our master.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...