Journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! crossed the picket lines at Standing Rock, North Dakota, and reported on the Dakota Access Pipeline protest on September 3, 2016.
As the protest escalated, the pipeline security pepper sprayed and unleashed its dogs on the protesters.
There was a warrant issued for Goodman’s arrest a few days after the event. The charge was criminal trespass, a misdemeanour offence. Nothing came of it however, and the charge was dismissed this week on October 17, 2016.
It is seriously concerning that Goodman was charged and faced jail time and a fine. It was a gross intimidation tactic to discourage journalists from reporting on an issue of significant public interest.
Unlike any of the major American broadcast networks, Goodman was in the middle of the protest at Standing Rock. The protest involved many locals and activists standing up for their land and water, and against the pipeline’s bulldozing. It teetered on the edge of violence.
Without Goodman’s reporting, the story would have not been heard nor seen. The Democracy Now! video and Goodman’s report instantly spread internationally.
The video went viral in the following days, and was viewed more than 14 million times according to The Nation online. This caused the big network stations like CNN, CBS, NBC, and NPR to finally cover the protests.
The Dakota Access Pipeline security should be held accountable for its unethical use of pepper spray and dogs against the protesters. If Goodman hadn’t crossed the Standing Rock picket lines on September 3, she wouldn’t have fulfilled her role as a journalist.
It is a journalist’s duty to report the facts, and Goodman was well within her rights of the First Amendment and freedom of the press to do so. It would’ve been practically impossible for her to report the truth from the sidelines.
(Blog Challenge #5: Write a reasoned and professional 275-word argumentative analysis, taking a side on the following question: “Amy Goodman of ‘Democracy Now!’ should or should not have been arrested for covering the Dakota Pipeline story.”)