ACTION ALERT: First Amendment Under Fire at Pipeline Protest: Reporters and Filmmakers Face Prison Terms
October 17, 2016
Jane Kleeb / Our Revolution & Nick Visser / The Huffington Post
Deia Schlosberg, a documentarian arrested while filming an oil pipeline protest in North Dakota, has been charged with three felony charges -- and could face decades in prison if convicted. Meanwhile, authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! In September, Goodman covered the protests involving thousands of Native American protesters and filmed troubling footage in which heavily armed guards used pepper spray and attack dogs against the nonviolent activists.
Thousands marched against the Dakota Access Pipeline in early September. (Credit: Robyn Beck/Getty Images)
45 Years in Prison for Filming a Pipeline Protest?
Jane Kleeb / Our Revolution
(October 16, 2016) -- A filmmaker journalist was arrested for filming a pipeline protest in North Dakota. Deia Schlosberg was held in jail for 48 hours without access to her attorney, and now she's facing felony conspiracy charges. We need to get the government to drop these charges, which are an affront to the First Amendment.
Sign our petition to the US Attorney to drop the charges against journalist Deia Schlosberg.
Native American tribal nations, farmers, and activists are protesting the Dakota Access pipeline for fracked oil, which would bring some of the dirtiest oil on the planet across five states.
Journalists and filmmakers have been at pipeline protests throughout North Dakota, documenting the bravery of activists who have been pepper sprayed and attacked with dogs for trying to protect native land and water sources.
But this week took a turn for the worse: a filmmaker at another solidarity protest in North Dakota against Tar Sands oil was arrested and charged with conspiracy for filming an action by activists to stop five pipelines from operating.
Deia Schlosberg had her footage confiscated before being held in jail for two days and was not allowed to speak to an attorney. Now she's facing felony charges of conspiracy for filming the protest, and if Deia is convicted, she could face up to 45 years in prison.
We need to pressure the government to drop charges against Deia Schlosberg. Our best chance is to ask US Attorney for North Dakota, Chris Myers, to drop the charges, and to make sure North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple and President Obama's Department of Justice also know Deia should not be charged.
Arresting journalists for documenting environmental actions is a dangerous precedent and an affront to the First Amendment.
Deia Schlosberg is an experienced and widely acclaimed filmmaker and journalist. She was the producer for Our Revolution Climate advisor Josh Fox's latest climate change documentary, How to Let Go of The World and Love All The Things Climate Can't Change, and her work documenting environmental organizing is respected and critical.
These charges are a threat to our freedom of expression on the most basic level and especially to documentary filmmaking. If filmmakers cannot film events as they're happening, especially protest events or events that the establishment and the police might consider criminal, our society will not be the same.
Pipelines that transport oil are some of the biggest threats to climate change. Pipelines can carry millions of gallons of dirty oil a day, and activists are doing all they can to stop these pipelines from being built or from operating.
People like Deia Schlosberg risk their safety to show these protests to the world, but now she's facing up to 45 years in prison for telling this story about threats to our climate.
Sign the petition to US Attorney Chris Myers, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple, and the Department of Justice to drop charges against Deia Schlosberg for filming a pipeline protest.
Deia Schlosberg was exercising her First Amendment right as a journalist to film a protest at a pipeline. The State of North Dakota's criminal complaint filed against her on October 13, 2016 should be dropped immediately. Journalism, especially documentary filmmaking, is not a crime -- it's a responsibility. The charges filed against her are an injustice that must be dropped immediately.
Thank you for all you do to help stop the effects of climate change.
Jane Kleeb is a Board Member of Our Revolution
Filmmaker Arrested At Pipeline Protest
Facing 45 Years In Felony Charges
"They threw the book at Deia for being a journalist"
Nick Visser / The Huffington Post
(October 15, 2016) -- A documentarian arrested while filming an oil pipeline protest on Tuesday has been charged with three felony conspiracy charges -- and could face decades in prison if convicted.
Deia Schlosberg, the producer of the upcoming documentary How to Let Go of the World and Love All Things Climate Can't Change, was detained while filming a protest against TransCanada's Keystone Pipeline in Walhalla, North Dakota. Activists at the event, associated with the group Climate Direct Action, shut down the pipeline, which carries oil from Canadian tar sands to the U.S, for about seven hours.
Two of the protestors, Michael Foster and Samuel Jessup, were also charged and Schlosberg's equipment and footage from the event was confiscated. Schlosberg said shortly after being released on bond that she couldn't comment on her arrest until she spoke to a lawyer.
She has been charged with three felonies: conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service. Together, the charges carry 45 years in maximum prison sentences.
Josh Fox, the director of the film and two others related to fossil fuels, including the Academy Award-nominated Gasland, said Schlosberg wasn't participating in the protest herself but acting as filmmaker to document the event. Her arrest appears to reflect a "deliberate" targeting of reporters, he said.
"They have in my view violated the First Amendment," Fox said, referring to the state's Pembina County Sheriff's Department. "It's fucking scary, it knocks the wind of your sails, it throws you for a loop. They threw the book at Deia for being a journalist."
Ryan Bialas, state's attorney for Pembina County, told The Huffington Post there was no such targeting and said the event at the pipeline was "not a protest" but "a criminal action."
"People are free to come and protest as much as they want in my county, I just ask they don't damage any property in doing so," Bialas said in an email. He also noted his office has offered to return Schlosberg's equipment and footage and he has "no interest" in keeping it.
The arrest is the latest in a series of high-profile criminal charges filed in North Dakota. Police arrested actress Shailene Woodley and 27 others this week for trespassing while protesting the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline.
And authorities issued an arrest warrant for criminal trespassing for Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! last month, who filmed a thousands-strong Native American-led protest in September, which was met with guards wielding pepper spray and attack dogs.
Goodman announced this week she will surrender to authorities on Monday "to fight this charge . . . a clear violation of the First Amendment."
Fox said the actions in North Dakota were "mind boggling" and he hasn't seen "any other state behave this way."
"Normally you get a warning," he said, referencing other direct-action protests. "In North Dakota, you don't. If you were trespassing, you leave and they arrest you anyway."
He has been circulating a letter calling for the charges against Schlosberg to be dropped. Signatories include actress Daryl Hannah, musician Neil Young, activist Bill McKibben and actor Mark Ruffalo.
Bialas said he was unaware of the criminal action against both Woodley and Goodman and that his office does "not "target activists, journalists or media."
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