New York, October 17, 2016–A U.S. court is due today to review a charge of rioting filed against broadcast journalist Amy Goodman, who filmed security guards using dogs and pepper spray to disperse protesters on September 3. The charge against the host of global news program Democracy Now! was filed October 14 by North Dakota attorney Ladd Erickson, according to reports. An earlier charge of criminal trespassing was dropped, reports said.
“We are dismayed that a prosecutor has filed charges against Amy Goodman, who was just doing her job by covering protests,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “The North Dakota court should dismiss the accusation. Failure to do so would send a chilling message for press freedom in the U.S.”
The charge is under review today by Judge John Grinsteiner, of Morton county courthouse. If the judge accepts the charge, Goodman will appear in court this afternoon to plead not guilty, her defense attorney told reporters.
Goodman told CPJ that when she arrived in North Dakota to challenge the earlier charge of trespassing, she learned that the charge had been dropped and prosecutors had filed a new charge of rioting. “I wasn’t trespassing. I wasn’t rioting. I was simply doing my job as a reporter. I think the state’s attorney is sending out a message that reporters should not come to the state of North Dakota,” Goodman told CPJ.