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At DAPL, Confiscating Cameras as Evidence of Journalism

While elite media wait for the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline to go away so they can return to presenting their own chin-stroking as what it means to take climate change seriously, independent media continue to fill the void with actual coverage.

One place you can go to find reporting is The Intercept  (10/25/16), where journalist Jihan Hafiz filed a video report from North Dakota, where the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies continue their stand against the sacred site–trampling, water supply–threatening project.

Hafiz reports that after a morning of prayer, Standing Rock activists

were attacked by police forces who used pepper spray and beat protesters with batons…. Dozens of officers, backed by military trucks, police vans, machine guns and nonlethal weapons, violently approached the group without warning.

As the demonstrators attempted to leave, the police began beating and detaining them. Several Native American women leading the march were targeted, dragged out of the crowd and arrested. One man was body-slammed to the ground, while another woman broke her ankle running from the police. The military and police trucks followed the protesters, as nearly a hundred officers corralled them into a circle. Among the arrested were journalists—including Hafiz—a pregnant 17-year-old and a 78-year-old woman.

Once jailed, Hafiz and others were refused phone calls and received no food or water for eight hours. Women were  strip-searched, two women fainted from low blood sugar and another had her medication taken away.

On her release, Hafiz was told, “Your camera is being held as evidence in a crime.”

That crime, of course, would be journalism. And it’s hard to believe law enforcement would feel so cavalier about treating it that way if more reporters were actually committing it.

Since the last time FAIR checked on how much coverage corporate media were giving the Dakota Access struggle (FAIR.org, 9/22/16), ABC and NBC have ended their blackout, airing one story apiece on their national news shows: NBC‘s Today show (10/11/16) had 71 words about the arrest of actor Shailene Woodley at the site, and ABC‘s Good Morning America (10/23/16) ran 70 words on how “a protest over construction of an oil pipeline turned violent.”

For news from Standing Rock, people would do better to follow #NODAPL on Twitter, and check out resources like SacredStoneCamp.org and Indian Country Today.

 


© 2021 Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
Janine Jackson

Janine Jackson

Janine Jackson is Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) program director and producer/co-host of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. She contributes frequently to FAIR's magazine, Extra! and co-edited "The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s" (2019).

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