Judge Throws Out Charge Against Environmental Journalist Amy Goodman

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    NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Amy Goodman of Democracy now speaks during Cinema for Peace New York 2012 at The Harvard Club on September 25, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Cinema for Peace New York 2012)

    A North Dakota judge threw out a charge against journalist Amy Goodman for “participating in a riot” while covering a Sept. 3 protest against the Dakota Access pipeline for the independent news show Democracy Now! District judge John Grinsteiner rejected the charge filed by a state prosecutor Monday afternoon in Mandan, N.D.

    “This is a vindication of freedom of the press, of the First Amendment, [and] of the public’s right to know,” Goodman said outside the courthouse after the judge’s decision.

    Goodman’s coverage included interviewing protesters and pipeline security guards on camera during the clash. Her video showed protesters climbing over a wire fence onto an active construction site. Security guards then used dogs and pepper spray in an attempt to disperse the crowd. The video, shot from inside the construction site, shows one dog with blood on its nose and teeth and an unleashed dog lunging at a group of protesters.

    Goodman was initially charged with trespassing and a warrant was issued for her arrest on Sept. 8. Both that charge and warrant, however, were dropped prior to Monday’s hearing. According to Democracy Now! the reversal came after Goodman’s attorney received an email from prosecutor Ladd Erickson, which said there were “legal issues with proving the notice of trespassing requirements in the statute.”

    Last Friday, Erickson filed a new charge of engaging in a riot, which carried a potential 30-day jail sentence and a $2,500 fine. The charge was dismissed by Judge Grinsteiner on Monday.

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