Standing Rock, North Dakota (TFC)— Authorities have only amplified an already ultra-militarized presence against water protectors at Standing Rock. Supporters and journalists are targeted, arrested, and charged with various crimes on a daily basis including renowned reporter Amy Goodman. Amy’s charges were recently dropped, but surveillance and abuse continue without halt by the government.
Democracy Now! has been on the forefront of Dakota Access coverage since construction of the pipeline began. The $3.8 billion dollar project has already destroyed sacred Native American lands and threatens water supplies. Although focus on water tainting revolves around native communities, they certainly aren’t the only one’s in danger. Dakota Access also flies in the face of pleas by climate scientists that literally no more oil or gas can be harvested from the earth, if we want to prevent climate catastrophic.
Amy’s team made international headlines after filming a confrontation between water protectors and Dakota Access private contractors. The contractors brought large dogs, which they encouraged to attack activists. Blood from one water protector dripped from the nose and maw of one dog as victims displayed their wounds to cameras.
An arrest warrant for Goodman was issued five days later, charging her with criminal trespassing and inciting a riot. The charges have been decried as a gross violation of press freedoms, particularly by Amy herself. Green Party Candidate Jill Stein was also charged by authorities for spray painting a bulldozer with water protectors and activists.
Goodman appeared before a judge the other day, prepared to fight the charges with a not guilty plea. The Judge, however, New York Times reports, refused to sign the charging document and effectively killed the case. It’s not over though, as Goodman’s lawyers fear other charges could be brought against her.
“I believe they want to keep the investigation open”, says state prosecutor Ladd Erickson, who’s aiding Morton County attorney’s office. Erickson said authorities may “see if there is any evidence in the unedited and unpublished videos that we could better detail in an affidavit for the judge.”
Erickson stated the video Democracy Now! published “dosen’t have much evidence value.” Goodman blasted the state’s attorney office in a live Facebook video stating they were “attempting to stop journalism.” Undeterred, Erickson states he’s still attempting to charge Goodman with inciting a riot.
“I wasn’t trespassing”, asserts Goodman, “I wasn’t rioting. The Democracy Now! team and I were there to report, to document what’s happening on the ground. These charges are simply a threat to all journalists in the country: Do not come to North Dakota.” Erickson spat disapproval, “she’s a protester, basically.” “Everything she reported was from the position of justifying the protest actions.”
Documentary film maker and director Deia Schlosberg was charged with conspiracy for filming pipeline protests. Updates on Schlossberg’s charges are still developing, as few outlets are covering her arrest. The Young Turks and TYT Politics have interviewed Schlossberg’s colleagues, who’re extremely disturbed by these attacks on journalism.
Actress Shailene Woodley was also arrested days ago while livestreaming to tens of thousands on Facebook. According to CBS Minnesota, Woodley was charged with criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot that, cameras show, didn’t occur. Shortly before this incident, Facebook access for protesters was cut off as a military-style raid was launched on prayer gatherers. The video’s narrator, once it did get through the jamming, stated planes flew past spraying something on protesters.
Moving forward, Amy Goodman’s back at it covering actions against Dakota Access. Democracy Now recently conducted a round of interviews with water protectors, the majority of which report surveillance and intimidation.
–Batons, Rifles, Vests, Tanks, Drones, And Unmarked Vehicles–
An arrest warrant was issued for Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe member Cody Hall for two misdemeanor counts of trespassing. Hall recalls that arresting officers treated him “like I was the native Osama, with at least 18 state officers that got out of their squad cars when I was arrested on a highway.” Hall felt he was “villainized”, and refused to be questioned by the FBI, Democracy Now! reports. Hall has experienced ongoing surveillance and harassment since having his charges dropped, echoing reports from others.
“Yes I have been targeted”, Hall explains to Goodman on camera. “As I look in my rear view mirror, I have DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) security in their rental trucks that they drive around with no licence plate. So I like to play a game and just drive around a little bit and see if that vehicle is tailing me and, sure enough, I get a lot of vehicles tail me in the city.” While under arrest and in custody, Hall reports constantly being surrounded by officers. A row of such authorities reputedly led him from the courthouse to the jail. Goodman, during her visit to court, experienced a similar authoritative presence.
Jordan Chariton of TYT Politics and The Young Turks is also on the ground at Standing Rock, covering the resistance as Goodman has. “Police brutality and surveillance is increasing”, says Chariton before questioning water protector and land owner LaDonna Brave Bull Allard. Brave Bull Allard asserted that water protectors have remained peaceful despite authorities becoming more violent.
“As we have the front line people go out, right now; they’re met with riot police, assault weapons, tanks–fully armored, people with full riot gear, and not anybody in these camps are violent. They have come here with prayer, song, dance, and ceremony.”
Brave Bull Allard went onto explain how her daughter was arrested on a highway despite not being involved in a protest. She and friends were followed by multiple cars before being stopped, pulled out, and arrested. Officers allegedly didn’t say a single word to Brave Bull Alllard’s daughter. She goes onto explain her daughter was taken to the Morton County Jail, where she was stripped entirely naked and thrown into a cell. Guards gave her a jumpsuit the next morning before her mother came searching.
LaDonna Brave Bull Allard explains to TYT Politics that authorities gave differing reasons as to why her daughter was arrested. “Well first it was for speeding…my daughter wasn’t driving. So then they said it was ‘hindering an officer’. And then the second charge was ‘hindering a government project’, she was driving on the road. Then it was ‘$500 because she lived at the camp’. Then it was ‘$1000’ because they didn’t like her ‘attitude’.” Brave Bull Allard says her daughter has returned home, shaken, to process the experience. Her son, who’s passed away, is buried on land which would be razed by pipeline construction.
“But the list has come out’, she says, “they are targeting our families. We are up against a billion dollar corporation at this time and they are using every means necessary. We have the helicopters, the planes, the drones that are going through doing facial recognition as we talk. They have come down into the camps, they count the number of people that are here, what we’re doing. And, they are here constantly. They monitor everyone as we walk. I know, and my husband knows, because I go to Bismarck every day to pick up supplies for the camp. They know exactly who we are when we go through. They don’t even talk to me.” Brave Bull Allard states around 200 people have been arrested, and most of all charges have been thrown out.
“As we see as things are happening and progressing…we have to stop them. We have no choice.” “I can not allow them”, Brave Bull Allen says, choking with tears, “I will not allow them to come across and destroy these sacred sites, these burial sites, these traditional cultural properties. This is my home! I can’t allow it!” “If we don’t stand up”, she proclaims, “they will kill us. There’ll be nothing left of our people. We have no choice.”
North Dakota’s governor has continued to up the pressure against Standing Rock water protectors. According to Brave Bull Allen, he’s even threatened to send child protection services to take their children, and close the schools. Resistance will continue, stretching into the winter as protectors make preparations. Brave Bull Allen states construction continues day and night, despite the government announcing work’s halted. The Army Corps also hasn’t sent its final approvals. “Everyday we stop them”, she says, “they lose a million dollars.”
Dakota Access is quickly becoming a obvious manifestation of a corporate-controlled, Orwellian police state. It’s difficult to ignore or justify the outrageous measures taken against peaceful protesters, journalists, and water protectors. It’s difficult to ignore or justify the ignorantly blind destruction of sacred sites and lands, or surveillance and intimidation by authorities.
Ask yourself, “why are state and federal police using militarized force against the people because of government orders to protect a corporation’s project?” Resistance at Standing Rock isn’t over. It’s quelling, however, means the death of any remaining notion of freedom, privacy, justice or preservation.