Amy Goodman Charged with Engaging in a Riot.

Amy Goodman.

Amy Goodman.

Just a few posts ago, I mentioned how embarrassing Ndakota has been lately. Apparently, the state I live in isn’t finished in the quest to scrape the bottom of the barrel, when it comes to stupid, ignorant, embarrassing, cringe-worthy, asshole antics. I do not take any pride in being surrounded by ignorant assholes who proudly wallow in bigotry and willful ignorance.

Bismarck, North Dakota–October 15, 2016 — A North Dakota state prosecutor has sought to charge award-winning journalist Amy Goodman with participating in a “riot” for filming an attack on Native American-led anti-pipeline protesters. The new charge comes after the prosecutor dropped criminal trespassing charges.

State’s Attorney Ladd R Erickson filed the new charges on Friday before District Judge John Grinsteiner who will decide on Monday (October 17) whether probable cause exists for the riot charge.

Goodman has travelled to North Dakota to face the charges and will appear at Morton County court on Monday at 1:30 pm local time (CDT) if the charges are approved.

“I came back to North Dakota to fight a trespass charge. They saw that they could never make that charge stick, so now they want to charge me with rioting, ” said Goodman. “I wasn’t trespassing, I wasn’t engaging in a riot, I was doing my job as a journalist by covering a violent attack on Native American protesters.”

In an e-mail to Goodman’s attorney Tom Dickson on October 12, State’s Attorney Erickson admitted that there were “legal issues with proving the notice of trespassing requirements in the statute.” In an earlier email on October 12, Erickson wrote that Goodman “was not acting as a journalist,” despite that fact that the state’s criminal complaint recognized that, “Amy Goodman can be seen on the video …interviewing protesters.” In that email Erikson justified his quote in the Bismarck Tribune in which he had said that “She’s [Amy Goodman] a protester, basically. Everything she reported on was from the position of justifying the protest actions.” The First Amendment, of course, applies irrespective of the content of a reporter’s story.

The charge in State of North Dakota v. Amy Goodman, stems from Democracy Now!’s coverage of the protests against the Dakota Access pipeline. On Saturday, September 3, Democracy Now! filmed security guards working for the pipeline company attacking protesters. The report showed guards unleashing dogs and using pepper spray and featured people with bite injuries and a dog with blood dripping from its mouth and nose.

Well, Mr. Erickson, thanks ever for helping to paint a picture of my state as one full of shit-for-brains bigots. Christ, I feel like I should just find a cave to hide in.

Via Democracy Now.


  1. says

    There is enough precedent that cops can’t tell someone to stop filming them while they’re beating people up. It’s going to be hard to explain how observing and reporting on an event makes one a participant. If Ndak were to win the case it would be ground-breaking and quickly overturned. So, apparently they have decided that, not content with some egg on their face, they are going to wallow in a plate of scrambled eggs.

  2. says


    So, apparently they have decided that, not content with some egg on their face, they are going to wallow in a plate of scrambled eggs.

    Oh that, and more! They are stomping all over crates of eggs on the way to the scrambled plate, by trying to charge everyone arrested with a felony. Anyone who chained themselves to a piece of equipment has been charged with a felony.

  3. blf says

    Bulldozers have sensitive feelings, the mildly deranged penguin points out, and if activists chain themselves to bulldozer, or paint on its blade, or other horrible nasty things happen — like being photographed or filmed by the media — then they go into a deep prolonged sulk and just have to destroy cultural artifacts & sites.

    Therefore, it is important to keep activists, media, cameras, and other inconveniences away. Most locales do not have “bulldozer harassment” on the books, so proxy charges like rioting and “camouflaging horses as deers” has to do.

  4. says

    I remember someone telling that in an autocratic regime you’re basically always with one foot in prison. There’s always something they can charge you with if you get on their wrong side. Looks like NDakota is trying hard to go down that road.
    But I think there’s a system to the madness: Intimidation. Make every reporter ask themselves “is this worth it?”. That’s not going to deter a veteran like Amy Goodman, but probably many others.

  5. intransitive says

    Trying to charge Goodman for “rioting” is like charging Eddie Adams with accessory to murder.

    During the US’s invasion of Iraq, reporters who refused to be “embedded” (read: let the government censory their reporting) were deliberately targeted by the US military. And many journalists like James Risen and Judith Miller, among others have been arrested and charged for not revealing their sources despite legal protections saying they don’t have to.

    Those in power have come to realize that journalists who operate outside the corporate media are reporting facts and the public are listening. This good journalism can’t be silenced by “editorial policy” from corporations, so governments are finding other ways to silenced them, with arrest and murder.

  6. says

    Pretty impressive. As someone who has lived enough of their life in an oppressive authoritarian state to remember it, I can see the tools of the trade are not forgotten yet and are being used to the full extent. Controling the media is essential to any totalitarian regime worth its salt. Along it usually comes gutting the higher education and holding inteligentsia on short leash. And phoney charges and fake trials are a good part of that.

    All US need now is a barbed wire fence ostensibly not allowing udnesirables to get in but in reality not allowing inteligentsia to get out and you are set to go full Monty … Sorry, full USSR.

    Lets hope there is enough of functional rule of law left to nip this in the bud.

  7. moarscienceplz says

    Apparently, the state government of ND has become a goon squad for the pro-pollution industry.

  8. blf says

    The Grauniad’s article on the riot charge (Ms Goodman used to write a column for the Grauniad). Perhaps not much new, but I found this an interesting point, not unlike what others have commented previously:

    The riot claim is particularly unusual and disturbing, [Reed Brody, one of Goodman’s lawyers,] added.

    “I’ve never seen it. This case is a real outlier in general in the United States.”

    Brody said if the state moves forward, it would mean officials would have to disclose further details about the questionable responses to protesters.

    “A riot charge would also force the state to talk about what it was doing that day and what the dogs were doing,” he said. “It could really backfire.”

    Apparently, the judge is due to rule today on “whether probable cause exists for the state’s riot claim.”

  9. blf says

    Follow-up to @10, Judge rejects riot charges for journalist Amy Goodman after oil pipeline protest (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    On Monday, judge John Grinsteiner ruled that the state lacked probable cause for the riot charge, blocking prosecutors from moving forward with the controversial prosecution.

    “I feel vindicated. Most importantly, journalism is vindicated,” Goodman told reporters and supporters on a live Facebook video Monday afternoon. “We have a right to report. It’s also critical that we are on the front lines. Today, the judge sided with{…} freedom of the press.”


    “If the prosecutor thought he was going to intimidate Amy, he severely misjudged the situation,” Reed Brody, one of Goodman’s lawyers, told the Guardian after the judge’s decision Monday.

  10. kestrel says

    Thanks for the follow-up, blf. That is good to hear.

    As for the people who even THOUGHT this would be OK to charge her with, what a bunch of frelling dipsticks.

  11. says


    As for the people who even THOUGHT this would be OK to charge her with, what a bunch of frelling dipsticks.

    To say the least. Goodman had good support, money, and lawyers. Can’t say as much for all the protectors who chained themselves to a bulldozer or other machine -- they are all being charged with a felony, and are facing 20 years in prison.

  12. says


    Here is hoping for at least one sane person in the courts.

    I don’t know that there is one. All the people charged with a felony are native, of course. There’s a very real possibility they will do hard time for this, which is a blatantly criminal act, if you ask me.

  13. Dunc says

    what a bunch of frelling dipsticks

    Always good to see another ‘scaper still out there! ;)

    (Sorry, OT, but I had to comment on that… We’re like the poor forgotten cousins of the Browncoats.)

  14. Crimson Clupeidae says

    She’s won cases in the past for similar shenanigans. Let’s hope she decides to sue the governor, or the security agency, or someone who was dumb enough to initiate this violation of her clear constitutional rights.

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