Brutalist
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Press Freedom? Dakota Access Pipeline Documentarian Faces 45 Years In Prison For Filming Activists

ottobattista
@ottobattista
on Nov 01, 2016 at 3:55PM in Politics, Corruption, Freedom of speech, Economics, Society, North America

A couple of days ago we noted that protests in North Dakota, over the Dakota Access Pipeline, were growing increasingly hostile with police arresting over 125 people just last weekend alone.  Another startling discovery from the weekend was reports of police efforts to shoot down multiple media drones which some thought indicated an increasing hostility toward press seeking to cover the protests.   Certainly, Deia Schlosberg, a documentarian who was recently charged with three felonies for filming activists shutting off oil pipelines, would tend to agree.

According to Schlosberg, she was charged with conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service, all of which carry a combined 45-year maximum sentence.  According to RT, the actions filmed by Schlosberg were part of a multi-state protest by “Climate Direct Action” which vandalized five pipeline valve stations in multiple states to protest the movement of tar-sands oil from Canada into the US, and to show solidarity with ongoing protests in North Dakota.  That said, Schlosberg claims she never participated in the illegal activities and filmed from public land.

"From the beginning, I was just dumbfounded by the charges," Schlosberg told RT America's Ed Schultz. "They seem to come from out of nowhere."

She said she understood the

"unprecedented nature of this action and knew that it wasn't likely to be covered by mainstream media."

"I was doing my job," she added. "I was documenting a climate action."

What precipitated her arrest is difficult to discern, she said.

"I was there. I was documenting and they didn't know what my involvement was. I told them I was a filmmaker and that I was filming from public property, and they still put me in jail for 53 hours and (charged) me with three counts of conspiracy, which are all felonies."

"From the beginning, I was just dumbfounded by the charges," Schlosberg told RT America's Ed Schultz. "They seem to come from out of nowhere." She said she understood the "unprecedented nature of this action and knew that it wasn't likely to be covered by mainstream media."

"I was doing my job," she added."I was documenting a climate action."

What precipitated her arrest is difficult to discern, she said.

"I was there. I was documenting and they didn't know what my involvement was. I told them I was a filmmaker and that I was filming from public property, and they still put me in jail for 53 hours and (charged) me with three counts of conspiracy, which are all felonies."

Below is an example of the actions taken by Michael Foster, who clearly should face criminal charges, which Schlosberg claims she filmed from public land.

Meanwhile, filmmakers were also arrested in Washington state for filming similar actions and were charged with felonies carrying sentences of up to 30 years and fines of up $46,000.

"I think North Dakota is in a state of emergency, and I think everything is elevated there, tensions are elevated," Schlosberg said of her charges. "But, two other (documentary) filmmakers who were filming the same action that was happening in Washington State at a pipeline there also were charged with felonies."

The filmmakers arrested in the Washington state action are Lindsey Goodwin-Grayzel and her photographer Carl Davis, who both face felony charges for robbery and trespassing for filming an activist as he broke into a Trans Mountain Pipeline facility in Skagit County. They each face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, a fine of $46,000, or both, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Josh Fox, a documentarian known for his film, Gasland, said that Schlosberg's treatment is part of an intimidation campaign in North Dakota adding that

"I never thought her gravest threat would be from our own government and from the police," he said, adding that Schlosberg's treatment is part of an intimidation campaign in North Dakota.

"It's clear that this state is trying to repress journalism," Fox told RT. "It's doing something that is essentially immoral and we believe should be illegal. It is against the First Amendment to arrest reporters who are simply trying to bring the public a story that they need to hear because the mainstream media is not covering it. And, you know, I don't think the mainstream media would be talking about fracking, or Standing Rock [protests over the DAPL], or any of these issues if it wasn't for documentarians like the amazing Deia Schlosberg sitting next to me and a lot of other citizen journalists who are bringing these issues to the fore."

While it's difficult to support some left-wing activist trespassing on private property and effectively causing $100,000s of damage, it is quite concerning that press would be targeted for punishment merely for filming such activities.  Or, perhaps this is why the mainstream media has failed to cover Hillary's many criminal activities?

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