Deia Schlosberg and Lindsey Grayzel face felony charges that first amendment advocates say are part of a growing number of attacks on freedom of the press
Two documentary film-makers are facing decades in prison for recording US oil pipeline protests, with serious felony charges that first amendment advocates say are part of a growing number of attacks on freedom of the press.
The controversial prosecutions of Deia Schlosberg and Lindsey Grayzel are moving forward after a judge in North Dakota rejected riot charges filed against Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman for her high-profile reporting at the Dakota Access pipeline protests.
But authorities in other parts of North Dakota and in Washington state have continued to target other film-makers over their recent reporting on similar demonstrations, raising concerns that the lesser-known journalists are not getting the same kind of public support and national attention.
Schlosberg, a New York-based film-maker, is facing three felony conspiracy charges for filming protesters on 11 October at a TransCanada Keystone Pipeline site in Pembina County in North Dakota, with prosecutors alleging that she was recruited to record the criminal activity.
The 36-year-old who is producing a documentary called How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Cant Change could face 45 years in prison. US whistleblower Edward Snowden recently tweeted his support of Schlosberg, writing: This reporter is being prosecuted for covering the North Dakota oil protests. For reference, I face a mere 30 years.
Grayzel, an independent film-maker from Portland, Oregon, was also arrested and jailed on 11 October while filming at a separate pipeline protest in Skagit County, Washington. She and her cinematographer, Carl Davis, had their footage and equipment seized and were kept behind bars for a day.
The two were filming activist Ken Ward attempting to shut down the Trans Mountain pipeline, and they now face 30 years in prison for a felony burglary charge, a felony criminal sabotage charge and a misdemeanor trespass offense. There were a series of pipeline protests across the US on 11 October.
Everyone needs to be afraid when our first amendment rights are in jeopardy, Grayzel, 41, told the Guardian on Thursday before her criminal arraignment. This is not just about me. This is not just about Carl. This is not about Amy Goodman This is about the publics right to know what is going on in this country.
Free-speech advocates said that both cases are unusual and troubling given that prosecutors have admitted that the defendants were acting as film-makers and are still pursuing aggressive felony cases.