Film-Makers Face Felony Charges for Recording Protests

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Two documentary film-makers face possible prison terms for recording U.S. 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, reports The Guardian. The controversial prosecutions of Deia Schlosberg and Lindsey Grayzel are moving forward after a judge in North Dakota rejected “riot” charges against Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman for her high-profile reporting at the Dakota Access pipeline protests.

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 October 11 at a TransCanada Keystone Pipeline site in North Dakota, with prosecutors alleging that she was “recruited to record the criminal activity.” Grayzel, an independent film-maker from Portland, Or., was also arrested and jailed on October 11 while filming at a separate pipeline protest in Skagit County, Wa. She and her cinematographer, Carl Davis, had their footage and equipment seized and were kept behind bars for a day. “Everyone needs to be afraid when our first amendment rights are in jeopardy,” said Grayzel, 41.  “This is not just about me. This is not just about Carl. This is not about Amy Goodman … This is about the public’s right to know what is going on in this country.”

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