Target: Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota Attorney General
Goal: Drop all charges against filmmaker facing 45 years in prison for filming a peaceful protest.
Award winning documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg faces 45 years in prison after filming activists turning off safety valves to halt the flow of tar sands oil. She is being charged with a Class A Felony and Two Class C Felonies for her actions, which took place at the TransCanada owned valve station in Walhalla, North Dakota. The action was part of a coordinated direct climate action in Minnesota, North Dakota, Washington State, and Montana, in which five groups of climate activists closed safety valves to halt the flow of oil from Canada into the U.S. Deis Schlosberg was arrested along with activists, and her footage has been confiscated.
This response to an act of direct action, and a non-violent protest is draconian in itself, however the arrest of Deia Schlosberg, as well as the recent charges against journalist Amy Goodman, represent a stifling of the First Amendment right to freedom of press. Given her status as a documentarian, Deia Schlosberg’s footage should be protected under the freedom of press. Furthermore, the 45 year sentence she faces is a clear attempt to intimidate journalists who would cover protests directed against fossil fuel infrastructure. Sign our petition to demand that the State of North Dakota drop all charges against Deia Schlosberg and return her footage.
Dear Attorney General Stenehjem,
I was shocked to hear of the arrest of Deia Schlosberg and the confiscation of her footage in connection to the recent protest at the TransCanada valve facility in Walhalla, North Dakota. As you know she faces charges that amount to the threat of 45 years in prison. Given Deia Schlosberg’s status as a documentarian, and her role covering the action, I believe her acts are covered under the First Amendment rights to freedom of press. I urge you to drop the charges against her and return any footage confiscated during her arrest.
Furthermore, well known journalist Amy Goodman is currently facing felony trespass charges for her coverage of the Standing Rock protests. Given her status as a journalist, I believe her charges are also a violation of the freedom of the press. Taken together, these two cases represent a disturbing pattern of disregard for freedom of the press, rights to protest, and freedom of expression. I urge you to ensure these charges are dropped, and advise North Dakota prosecutors to cease laying charges against people documenting protests in the public interest.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Stephen Miller