|Arrested journalist Jenni Monet at Standing Rock. Photo: Terray Sylvester|
The Society of Environmental Journalists has joined other press-freedom groups in calling for charges to be dropped against at least 10 journalists arrested in recent months for covering the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Some of those journalists will be in court March 2, 2017. Eight journalism groups, led by the Committee to Protect Journalists, signed a letter to the Morton County, N.D., state's attorney.
"We are concerned that the arrests of journalists can have a chilling effect on press freedom and discourage media from covering stories that are in the public interest," the groups wrote. "In the case of Standing Rock, several journalists told CPJ they have shied away from covering protests or getting too close to police action to avoid being arrested again. While we acknowledge that journalists are sometimes temporarily detained in emergency situations, a case where several journalists face criminal charges for simply doing their job is unacceptable."
CPJ reporter Alexandra Ellerbeck documented cases of journalists who had been arrested in connection with the pipeline protests at the Standing Rock Reservation. Most were freelancers or reporters with small outlets who could not easily afford legal representation. They included Christopher Schiano, Nicholas Georgiades, Sara LeFleur-Vetter, Jihan Hafiz, Adam Schrader, Jenifer Stum, Jenni Monet, Lorenzo Serna, Jennifer Schreiter and Myron Dewey.
Groups signing the letter were the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Native American Journalists Association, Reporters Without Borders, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Press Photographers Association and the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
Here is the text of the letter sent March 2, 2017, by the journalism groups.