Monet was arrested while trying to document the attempts to set up a protest camp on allegedly private land near the Cannonball River by those who oppose the attempts of building a pipeline that would pass through the sacred land of the Sioux tribe. In order to prevent the setting up of the camp, the Morton County police reacted by putting up barricades around that area. The police asked the journalist to leave that area, which she was intending on doing and started to walk away, but she was arrested anyway, as the journalist herself said in an interview. Monet added that she reported from a distance and that she identified herself as a journalist on assignment, but the police officer just loaded her on a school bus and held her there for seven hours with other women, after which she was taken to the county prison.
Spokesman for the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, Rob Keller, stated that the department respects the important role journalists play in democracy and in the coverage of the Dakota Access pipeline protest, adding that he could not comment on the circumstances of the journalist’s arrest.
For Fairpress, Jenni Monet referred to the arrest and the charges against her.
I was arrested for simply doing my job: reporting and responsibly exercising my constitutional right to free speech.
Now more than ever, journalism matters, as we observe, pursue questions and share fact-based information in a pursuit to build a more meaningful democracy. I’m hopeful that Morton County will dissolve my charges of criminal trespassing and “engaging in a riot” for the integrity of North Dakota.
I’ve been writing from all sides about the movement at Standing Rock since early September and have formed respectful relations with all parties including local law enforcement, state political leaders, and the energy companies. When I disclosed to police that I was a journalist upon my arrest, my 40-hour detention should have ended there. But it
didn’t. Now I formally call on my charges to be dismissed at once.
As has been repeated several times, the movement at Standing Rock is about more than just a pipeline. It has been an ongoing 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, Jenni Monet.
Mark Trahant, professor of journalism at the University of North Dakota who also covered the protests, commented the arrest of his colleague for Fairpress:
I think it’s outrageous and an attack on the First Amendment. It was bad enough for her to get arrested. It’s incomprehensible that she was actually charged with crimes.
Namely, the situation in Standing Rock was additionally complicated with Trump’s signing of an executive order on January 24 this year for the controversial Dakota Access pipeline project to be reviewed and approved in an expedited manner, which Fairpress reported on earlier.
This act of the president prompted many to express their disagreement with such a decision via a protest in New York on that same day; along pipeline routes across the USA, more and more protests started springing up. As a result of the president’s order, the Sioux tribe from Standing Rock reacted, declaring it utterly alarming. David Archambault II, chairman of the Sioux tribe, sent a letter in which he asked for a meeting with the president and in which he warned that rushing with the implementation of this project would mean violating the law, considering that it now requires an Environmental Impact Statement.
To recall, for some time now, protests have been going on, attempting to stop the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline which would run through the Standing Rock reservation. The police brutally handled those who participated in the peaceful protests; many journalists were also arrested, among them was film producer and journalist Deia Schlosberg and journalist Erin Schrode, who was shot by police with a rubber bullet while she was interviewing a participant of the peaceful protest in Standing Rock.