Arrested Journalist Jenni Monet Released

Courtesy Jenni Monet / Journalist Jenni Monet speaks with MSNBC about the Dakota Access Pipeline. She was arrested at Standing Rock on February 1 while on assignment for Indian Country Media Network. Released on bail, she still faces charges.

A message from ICMN reporter Jenni Monet on the First Amendment and the U.S. Constitution, and coverage of Standing Rock

When Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman was charged with the same allegations I now face—criminal trespassing and rioting—her message to the world embraced the First Amendment.

“There’s a reason why journalism is explicitly protected by the U.S. Constitution,” she said before a crowd gathered in front of the Morton County courthouse. “Because we’re supposed to be the check and balance on power.”

Her charges were dissolved that day—in fact the judge declined to sign them—and I’m hopeful my case will be handled in a similar manner, not only for my own well-being but also for the integrity of North Dakota.

I’ve been writing from all sides about the movement at Standing Rock since early September. My first piece filed from the reservation was a radio story for National Native News about the September 3 dog attacks—a dramatic confrontation in which protesters, regarded as water protectors, were charged at with vicious dogs on leashes, handled by private security guards. Goodman documented that event, and the video went viral. And as I reported then, it revealed a first look at the kind of tactics that the energy company would use to guard its multi-billion-dollar pipeline.

Since that time, there has been a bizarre flow of coverage from legacy media as the demonstrations at Standing Rock persist. It has been reactionary and parachute-style, typical of stories stemming from inside Indian Country. At one point I was the only journalist at Standing Rock in the early days of January. This recurring silence is why I chose to embed myself on the reservation in December.

As has been repeated several times, the movement at Standing Rock is about more than just a pipeline. It has been a repeated fight against injustices of all stripes, even for journalists. I am grateful to all in the journalism community who have expressed their support for me. I look forward to sharing more about my arrest from Morton County and the continuing struggle here in North Dakota.