On Strip Searches and Press Freedom in North Dakota
Monday was a cold, windy, autumnal day in North Dakota. We arrived outside the Morton County Courthouse in Mandan to produce a live broadcast of the “Democracy Now!” news hour. Originally, the location was dictated by the schedule imposed upon us by the local authorities; one of us (Amy) had been charged with criminal trespass for Democracy Now!’s reporting on the Dakota Access Pipeline company’s violent attack on Native Americans who were attempting to block the destruction of sacred sites, including ancestral burial grounds, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Pipeline guards unleashed pepper spray and dogs on the land and water defenders. Democracy Now! video showed one of the attack dogs with blood dripping from its nose and mouth. The video went viral, attracting more than 14 million views on Facebook alone. Five days later, North Dakota issued the arrest warrant.