Drop All Charges Against Standing Rock Journalists

TAKE ACTION: DROP ALL CHARGES AGAINST THE EIGHT JOURNALISTS ARRESTED COVERING PROTESTS OF DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE

The information for this campaign was sourced from Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and The Huffington Post. All photos by Jihan Hafiz for The Intercept.

PEN Center USA demands that the Morton County State's Attorney's Office drop all charges against the eight journalists arrested while covering the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

“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.” — CPJ Blog


A letter was issued to the Morton County State's Attorney Allen Koppy, from CPJ (including seven other groups including the Society of Professional Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, and the Freedom of the Press Foundation) calling for the charges to be dropped.

Morton County prosecutors have not responded to a request for comment.

The eight journalists and their charges are as follows:

Sara Lafleur-Vetter, a freelance filmmaker whose work has been featured in The Guardian, faces charges of criminal trespass and engaging in a riot. Police arrested Lafleur-Vetter alongside more than 100 others while she was covering a prayer and march on October 22, 2016. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 60 days imprisonment and $3,000 fine. She has pleaded not guilty, according to public records.

Jihan Hafiz, a freelancer who has contributed to The Intercept and Al Jazeera America, faces charges of criminal trespass and engaging in a riot. Police arrested Hafiz on October 22, 2016, alongside more than 100 others while she was covering a prayer and march on October 22, 2016. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 60 days imprisonment and/or a $3,000 fine. She pleaded not guilty, according to public records.

Adam Schrader, a freelancer who contributes to The New York Daily News and other outlets, is charged with public nuisance and engaging in a riot. Police arrested him October 27, 2016 when he was filming clashes between police and protesters. An additional felony charge for conspiracy to endanger by fire was dropped. Schrader told CPJ he denies the charge. If convicted he faces one year and 30 days imprisonment and a $4,500 fine.

Jenifer Stum, a freelance journalist, is charged with criminal trespass and engaging in a riot. She was arrested January 16, 2017 while filming a protest on a bridge. If convicted, she faces 60 days imprisonment and a $3,000 fine.

Myron Dewey, owner of Digital Smoke Signals, a website that includes news, videos, and forums, is charged with stalking for allegedly using a drone to film private security guards. Police charged Dewey on October 8. Dewey, who describes himself as an environmental justice filmmaker and journalist, told Democracy Now! that he turned himself in after receiving a warrant. If convicted he faces a year imprisonment and a $3,000 fine.

Jack Smith IV, a journalist for the online news outlet Mic, who is facing a charge of obstruction of a government function, a Class A misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

Lorenzo Serna, a journalist for the nonprofit media collective Unicorn Riot, is charged with criminal trespass and engaging in a riot. Police arrested Serna on October 22, 2016 he was filming people crossing a field. He told CPJ that he showed his press pass and said that he didn’t hear orders to disperse prior to being arrest. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 60 days imprisonment and/or a $3,000 fine. He pleaded not guilty, according to public records.

Jenni Monet, a freelancer who has contributed to outlets including the Indian Country Media Network, YES! Magazine, and the PBS NewsHour website, is charged with criminal trespass and engaging in a riot. Police arrested Monet February 1, 2017 when officers were clearing a camp. She told CPJ she denies the charge. If convicted she faces 60 days imprisonment and/or a $3,000 fine.

“(Monet) said that despite showing police her media pass and walking away when instructed to do so, she was arrested, strip searched, and held in jail for 25 hours before being charged…  Monet, who is Native American, also told CPJ that she was subjected to a strip search but said that when she talked to white women booked at the same time they told her they had been allowed to keep their bras on during the search.” — The Huffington Post

Watch Jihan Hafiz's videos from Standing Rock over at The Intercept


We call on Allen Koppy, Morton County State’s Attorney, to drop all of these charges immediately.

Take Action - Please Sign:

The first amendment rights of journalists and free press liberties are in danger. Please join us in demanding that the Attorney General of North Dakota drop these charges immediately. ADD your name to the form below and we will include your name in this petition that will be sent to Allen Kopp, Morton County State’s Attorney.

SIGN THE PETITION

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