North Dakota, (TFC)– The US government took a sharp turn down Orwell Avenue after issuing an arrest warrant for renowned journalist of Democracy Now! Amy Goodman. Democracy Now traveled to North Dakota to cover protests against a massive pipeline project threatening Native American lands. The charges arrive as activists are detained, and concerns of political suppression germinate.
According to Democracy Now!, Goodman is charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing. Her team traveled to North Dakota to cover the pipeline protests spearheaded by a coalition of Native American tribes. The charges come after Goodwin’s team filmed Dakota Access security guards unleash dogs on peaceful protesters.
One shot showed a dog panting hard with its nose and tongue drenched in a protester’s blood. According to Democracy Now!, that report went viral and aired on mainstream outlets including CBS and MSNBC. Goodman called her charges an “unacceptable violation of freedom of the press.” “I was doing my job by covering pipeline guards unleashing dogs and pepper spray on protesters.”
Democracy Now! has been on the frontline covering the Dakota Access pipeline, a project said to be killed by President Obama. The $3.8 billion dollar project aims to create a channel in which 500,000 barrels of crude oil could be transported from Illinois to Texas each day. CopBlock contributors have also journeyed to the site, alongside numerous other alternative media outlets.
Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein was also charged after spray painting a bulldozer with protesters. Her message read “I approve this message”, reminiscent of a presidential speech. Senator Bernie Sanders has also been active against the pipeline, speaking regularly and organizing a massive rally before the White House. Sanders also recently offered an amendment requiring that an environmental impact statement be presented before the work is even a possibility. That legislation, if passed, would essentially stonewall the pipeline–which has been called a reboot of the Keystone XL project–and others like it.
According to Democracy Now!, protests catalyzed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have sustained for three months. Today, nearly 100 tribes stand in solidarity against what some have called an unnecessary, environmentally destructive project. In the process of constructing the pipeline, numerous ancient burial sites have been razed out of existence.
Protesters, alongside dog attacks, reported a helicopter which they say was photographing them. Democracy Now! interviewed Standing Rock Sioux Tribe historian LaDonna Brave, who described the militarized response. Brave reports low flying planes and helicopters during the day, drones by night, and large boats positioning themselves off shore. She also stated the Governor of North Dakota has threatened an economic blockade of the reservation.
At one point, protesters jumped a wire fence separating them and construction workers, who fought the activists off. Dogs also attacked two peaceful natives on horseback, spooking the equine and dispersing a crowd.
It’s difficult to remain “objective” when viewing footage of pipeline workers denying spraying protesters while holding a canister. A female guard, who blamed the attacks on the dogs themselves, was filmed encouraging them to maim protesters. Activists–men, women, children–were forced to use flagpoles and their own dogs to fend off the corporate hounds.
Democracy Now! interviewed a canine expert disgusted by what occurred in the video. Jonni Joyce specializes in law enforcement dog units, and saw a complete lack of training demonstrated by Dakota Access employees.
Joyce found it obvious that “what the dogs were not trained to do was to be professional security dogs, or professional law enforcement dogs. What I witnessed on the video was absolutely horrific, and a chaotic scene. It appeared the handlers were not trained properly in order to manage a dog that’s been trained in some type of controlled aggression.”
Joyce compared the dogs to alligators put on leeches, then ordered at the protesters. In regards to the female guard handling the dog with the bloody maw, Joyce felt, at one point, even the dog resisted going into the crowd. The handler further encouraged the dog by dragging it closer, patting it, and allowing it to lash out. Jonni Joyce says she’s filing a federal complaint against the company believed to have supplied the dogs. According to Joyce, the company appears to lack the federal approval that is required by law to operate.
National guard units, after being deployed, allegedly arrested protesters at gunpoint. According to Ring Of Fire, protesters were arrested by soldiers and then taken to undisclosed holding facilities. No video has yet surfaced depicting the arrests, as Ring Of Fire’s report is but a day old.
According to Mint Press, medics and journalists were also arrested. The Mint Press piece references independent outlet Unicorn Riot as having streamed live video of ongoing standoffs between protesters and authorities. Unicorn Riot claims Facebook has been censoring their live stream coverage.
Video commentators, Mint Press reports, complained that they either couldn’t share it, or that the link was blocked. A person in one video described how over 100 riot gear clad police arrived on the site and began arrests. Protesters resisted by physically locking themselves to construction equipment. Police also allegedly pointed automatic weapons with live ammo at peaceful protesters.
The pipeline, before connecting with far away states, must first go through a river that the company would have to bore through. Some protesters carried signs reading “water is life”, decrying a corporate culture of disregard for land. One marcher denounced the mentality that companies own the land. “No one owns this land”, he yelled, “this land belongs to the earth! We are only caretakers!” Many fear that a continued pattern of water contamination will follow the construction of this project. CEO of Energy Transfer Projects not only downplayed the cultural impact of destroying sacred sites, but called water concerns “unfounded.”
Activists were rewarded with a temporary halting of construction for their struggle, but are pushing onward. Though some view the Obama Administration’s move with optimism, those on the frontline of the protests aren’t settling down. Instead, demonstrations continue as construction equipment is moved from the area, and national guard checkpoints remain. Despite official measures, conflicting reports continue to surface as to whether construction actually stopped–and for what reason.
Correction: Any earlier version of this article falsely used the name Amy Goodwin.