Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Judge Drops Charge against 'Democracy Now' Reporter

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Judge Drops Charge against 'Democracy Now' Reporter

Article excerpt

MANDAN, N.D. - "Democracy Now!" reporter Amy Goodman won't face a riot charge stemming from her coverage of a protest against construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota, with a judge saying Monday that there was no cause for it. Judge John Grinsteiner refused to sign off on the misdemeanor riot charge, which prosecutor Ladd Erickson had pursued after dismissing a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge against the journalist on Friday. However, authorities would not rule out the possibility Goodman could face other charges.

Erickson has said Goodman was acting like a protester when she reported on a clash between protesters and pipeline security last month. Her defense attorney, Tom Dickson, maintains Goodman was doing her job.

The protests have drawn thousands of people to the area where Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners is trying to wrap up construction on the $3.8 billion, 1,200-mile pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois. Opponents of the pipeline worry about potential effects on drinking water on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and farther downstream, as well as destruction of cultural artifacts.

Goodman is one about 140 people who have been charged in recent weeks with interfering with the pipeline's construction in North Dakota.

After the judge's decision Monday, Erickson referred questions to Morton County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey. Asked whether authorities would pursue other charges, Preskey said, "It's all under review. She would not elaborate.

Goodman told reporters outside the courthouse that Grinsteiner's decision was a "vindication for all journalists and a vindication for everyone.

Dickson said prosecutors are wrong to continue to pursue charges against Goodman.

"The first charge was frivolous and the second charge was even more frivolous, Dickson said. "Enough is enough. They need to let it go.

An arrest warrant was issued for Goodman after she reported on a clash on Sept. 3, when Standing Rock Sioux officials said crews bulldozed several sites of "significant cultural and historic value on private land. …

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