Happy Friday friends! I’ll start off with a couple stories of the continued fallout for those who choose to support/cover the Standing Rock movement and then will put all the rest of the news in the comments (Sessions, Sanders, The DNC & more..). Also please take time to visit Humphrey’s post below!
For months, environmental protesters have clashed with police and private security companies over plans for the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.7 billion project that opponents say will destroy Native American sites and affect the region’s water supply. While mainstream media have covered flashpoints in the protests, a core of mostly freelance, left-wing, and Native American outlets have remained at the site to provide daily coverage.
Several of those journalists are facing charges, including trespass and engaging in riots, after being caught in mass arrests as police cracked down on protests or tried to clear camps in recent months. CPJ is aware of at least 10 journalists covering the story who are facing charges. Details of their cases can be seen here.
Some of those facing charges told CPJ that police used heavy-handed tactics, ignored or dismissed their press credentials, or arrested them even though they were following dispersal orders or commands to stay behind police lines. The journalists said that the burden of legal costs or risk of further charges if they are arrested again has discouraged them from covering other protests.
Jihan Hafiz, an award-winning Egyptian-Samoan journalist who also faces charges, told CPJ that she thought reporting in North Dakota would be “a walk in the park.” Hafiz, who has covered conflict in the Middle East and police brutality in Brazil for outlets including The Real News Network and Al-Jazeera America, said she was surprised by what she described as heavy-handed police tactics and compared covering Standing Rock to reporting on conflict overseas. “These are not American tactics of policing. It’s clear to me that covering this is dangerous,” she told CPJ.
North Dakota police have accused a US veteran of arson at Standing Rock, renewing concerns that law enforcement is targeting former service members for prosecution.
Police on Thursday said that Sean Sullivan was a “possible arson suspect” and sent out a photo taken from his Facebook page of him standing near a burning structure at the main encampment at Standing Rock, which officers evicted last week.
Sullivan, a 35-year-old navy veteran from San Diego, who returned home from Standing Rock on Monday, had not heard he was a suspect until a Guardian reporter called him on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s just completely unfounded,” said Sullivan, who was part of a group called VeteransRespond that recently traveled to North Dakota to assist the remaining Native American activists demonstrating against the Dakota Access pipeline. “It’s intimidating. They’re just trying to bully me around. Everyone knows I didn’t start that.”
The arson accusation, which police said could lead to prosecution, is the latest in a series of arrests and charges filed against veterans aiding indigenous groups fighting the pipeline, which could soon be in operation.