Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman has been facing criminal charges in connection with protests over a planned oil pipeline in North Dakota.
On Monday, the judge in the case delivered some great news to the radio journalist by rejecting the case for lack of evidence.
Goodman and her lawyers declared victory on Monday. However, state prosecutor Ladd Erickson, who is assisting the Morton County state’s attorney in the case said that new charges were possible.
“I believe they want to keep the investigation open and see if there is any evidence in the unedited and unpublished videos that we could better detail in an affidavit for the judge,” Erickson said in an email. “The Democracy Now video that many people have seen doesn’t have much evidence value in it.”
Goodman, the host and executive producer of the syndicated radio and web show “Democracy Now!”, had planned to plead not guilty on Monday, but District Court Judge John Grinsteiner declined to sign the charging document, bring the case to a close, for now.
The journalist had characterized the threat of the planned riot charge as a threat to journalism and the First Amendment. Goodman appeared on a Facebook Live video from outside of the courthouse in North Dakota on Monday after the charges were rejected. She said that she would continue to cover the pipeline protests. “The state’s attorney was attempting to stop journalism. The state’s attorney must respect freedom of the press and the First Amendment.”
Goodman was originally charged with criminal trespass on September 8th after September 3rd report on a violent clash between protesters and security guards. at a construction site near Mandan, North Dakota for the Dakota Access Pipeline. In the protest several guards were injured, and Ms. Goodman reported that protesters had been doused with pepper spray and that dogs had been used against them.
According to the New York Times, “On Friday, the prosecutor, Mr. Erickson, dismissed the trespassing charge. Tom Dickson, one of Ms. Goodman’s lawyers, told The Associated Press that Mr. Erickson had informed him he planned to file a new charge against Ms. Goodman: engaging in a riot. The A.P. said the charge carried a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.”
“The prosecutor seems to be determined to charge Amy with something,” Read Brody, a lawyer for Goodman said on a phone interview with the New York Times. “I wasn’t trespassing. I wasn’t rioting. The ‘Democracy Now’ team and I were there to report, to document what was happening on the ground. These charges are simply a threat to all journalists around the country: Do not come to North Dakota,” according to Goodman’s Facebook Live broadcast before Monday’s hearing.