A North Dakota judge tossed out charges against journalist Amy Goodman, alleging the left-wing reporter participated in a ‘riot’ during a Dakota oil pipeline protest.
“This is a complete vindication of my right as a journalist to cover the attack on the protesters, and of the public’s right to know what is happening with the Dakota Access pipeline,” Goodman said in a statement Monday following the decision.
“We will continue to report on this epic struggle of Native Americans and their non-Native allies taking on the fossil fuel industry and an increasingly militarized police in this time when climate change threatens the planet,” she added.
Goodman was covering a protest of the multi-state, $3.8 million oil pipeline in September, which ended in violence after members of a Native American tribe in North Dakota and private security forces clashed as construction crews began work on the project. She was facing misdemeanor chargers, carrying with them 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.
Prosecutor Ladd Erickson, who was originally seeking the charges, said Goodman is not a reporter, but rather a provocateur that prefers riling up protesters.
“She’s a protester, basically. Everything she reported on was from the position of justifying the protest actions,” Erickson told reporters with the Bismarck Tribune.
“Is everybody that’s putting out a YouTube video from down there a journalist down there, too?” he asked.
The incident at the campsite resulted in violence.
A Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman told reporters in September that four security guards not affiliated with law enforcement and two guard dogs were injured as several hundred protesters living in the Standing Rock Sioux reservation confronted pipeline workers at the site.
One of the security officers was taken to a hospital, while the two guard dogs were taken to a veterinary clinic. Tribe spokesman Steve Sitting Bear disagreed, telling reporters that security dogs bit six protesters and a young child. At least 30 people were pepper-sprayed during the altercation, he added.
The nearly 1,200-mile long pipeline is under intense scrutiny from protesters and members of the Standing Rock Sioux, both of whom argue the pipeline’s construction would trample on tribal lands and destroy artifacts. They also argue it could potentially poison waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
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