The images are shocking: security guards, armed with dogs and pepper spray, attacking peaceful Native Americans marching against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The footage from Democracy Now! is a brutal reminder that those in power will do anything to stop people from standing against injustice.
The pipeline has faced strong resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and members of 280 other tribes in the United States and Canada, not to mention countless other groups working in solidarity. But local authorities want to silence the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s brave fight to prevent the pipeline’s construction through its sacred land.
That’s why on Sept. 8, North Dakota’s Morton County issued an arrest warrant for Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman on the charge of trespassing — a move intended to chill reporting.
And we know how important it is to be able to tell the story of what’s happening on the ground: The Obama administration put a temporary halt on a portion of the project, in part thanks to coverage from Goodman and indigenous media outlets like Indian Country Today. Goodman’s report was viewed more than 13 million times on the Democracy Now! Facebook page and CBS, CNN, NBC and NPR were among the outlets that carried the footage.
And Goodman isn’t the only reporter Morton County authorities have targeted: Most recently two journalists from independent news outlet Unicorn Riot were arrested on trespass charges while filming the militarized response to protesters.
If the authorities in Morton County and the company seeking to build the Dakota Access Pipeline had their way, the world wouldn’t see their horrific acts or their total disregard for the land and water rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Morton County’s actions are designed to intimidate journalists and to silence the indigenous coalition that has stepped up to safeguard access to clean water.
Journalism isn’t a crime, and authorities in Morton County shouldn’t silence reporters who are trying to do their jobs and amplify the voices of this movement. Urge Morton County to drop the charges against Goodman, Unicorn Riot and everyone exercising their First Amendment rights to report on this story.