The Native American Journalists Association says the arrest this week of a working journalist at the North Dakota pipeline protests is unlawful and a violation of free press principles. Morton County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested reporter Jenni Monet along with 75 others. They were taken into custody while protestors were assembling a new camp on what officials say is private land. Monet—who has covered the protests on location for numerous news organizations including National Native News—was on assignment for Indian Country Media Network.
NAJA President Bryan Pollard says Monet’s arrest is in keeping with a pattern by Morton County law enforcement to try and prevent the press from documenting their actions.
“I think it’s more important than ever that journalists go there and document what’s happening,” Pollard said. “But I think it should be said that any journalist who goes there to cover what’s happening at Standing Rock needs to go there understanding that they are entering something that is resembling a war zone.”
Pollard says Monet is a clearly-credentialed journalist who has covered the events in North Dakota for months. He says officials need better awareness in order to distinguish reporters from protesters.
“Officials in charge either have not trained their forces properly, or simply don’t care that that’s an illegal action and a violation of the First Amendment,” Pollard said.
Monet texted her editors before she was arrested, saying she was unable to get away from the sweep of officers taking protesters into custody. Indian Country Media Network demanded Monet’s release and the dismissal of all pending charges.