Monday, October 17, 2016

Not all Writers are Journalists, but all Journalists are Writers

I’d like to start off this week’s Butterfly Phoenix blog with a deep and heartfelt apology from the bottom of my soul to Amy Goodman, Reporter – DemocracyNow! I am so very sorry for the less than hospitable treatment you received in North Dakota. Charging you with a crime at all, misdemeanor or not, is not something that should have happened in our State, and I apologize as a citizen of North Dakota.

On September 3, 2016, award winning journalist Amy Goodman covered an unfolding story in North Dakota that went viral on the internet. Although, Ms. Goodman identified herself as a reporter from New York on the scene, she was later, 2 or 3 days later, charged with misdemeanor trespassing charges in Morton County, North Dakota. Ms. Goodman agreed to travel back to North Dakota and face the music. Well, the music she came back to seemed to be the drums of war. In the midst of her travel, State’s Attorney, Ladd R. Erickson filed new charges -  under the Riot law of North Dakota Century Code 12.1-25-01 (inciting a riot); 02 (arming rioters); 03 (engaging in a riot); or 04 (disobedience of public safety orders under riot conditions). The charge(s) she will face is not yet clear to the general public.

Amy Goodman was clearly reporting a story as can be seen here:  Dakota Access Pipeline Company Attacks Native American Protesters with Dogs and Pepper Spray

Contrary to mainstream media reports, the Dakota Access Pipeline workers were bulldozing a burial ground and sacred site of the Great Sioux Nation, on unceded land in South Central North Dakota. (see the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 for more information on unceded land.) Amy Goodman was reporting on this event as a fully recognized journalist in the journalist community; to include national mainstream media. She faces jail time and/or fines for doing her job. There has been no instance in American history where a journalist has been charged while doing their job. This sets precedence as stated in Vogue magazine:

"If hundreds of Native tribes and nations can join together in solidarity to resist a dangerous threat to their identity, to their existence, to their freedom, so must members of the press everywhere in condemning attacks on a fellow journalist. This is no time for silence. One standoff leads to another."

Why is this important to all writers everywhere, even if you aren’t a journalist? Charging Amy Goodman is a direct violation of the First Amendment of the United States – Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion. What you write can become censored in America. The topics you choose, the very words you choose to express your thoughts, stories, and books can come under the scrutiny of those who would move to strike your words from American history.

Also arrested in North Dakota for covering the Dakota Access Pipeline:

Deia Schlosberg (documentary filmmaker and journalist) was arrested and charged with felonies carrying a whopping maximum sentence of up to 45 years in prison—simply for reporting on the ongoing Indigenous protests against fossil fuel infrastructure.  Arrested in Walhalla, ND and held in the Pembina County jail for 48 hours without the right to an attorney.

Four reporters from Unicorn Riot Independent Media and live streaming. Their arrests were video documented.

Shailene Woodley – Star of Divergent and Fault in Our Stars. She and her mother livestreamed her arrest on Facebook.

We, as writers of America, must come together and stand in support of journalists, because not all writers are journalists; but all journalists are writers.