Freedom of Expression

North Dakota Must Drop the Charges Against Deia Schlosberg

* Update November 30, 2016: Deia Schlosberg’s prosecution has been officially suspended by the state of North Dakota. Thank you for lending your voice to protect freedom of expression.

Deia Schlosberg is an American filmmaker and journalist facing three felony charges for filming protests in North Dakota. Schlosberg was filming a group of activists known as Climate Direct Action as they manually shut down pipelines in North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, and Washington state. Schlosberg documented the North Dakota group, who declared their protest to be in solidarity with the indigenous Standing Rock Sioux.

Climate Direct Action posted the following message online:

“This morning, [October 13, 2016] by 7:30 PST, 5 activists have successfully shut down 5 pipelines across the United States delivering tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada in support of the call for International Days of Prayer and Action for Standing Rock. Activists employed manual safety valves, calling on President Obama to use emergency powers to keep the pipelines closed and mobilize for the extraordinary shift away from fossil fuels now required to avert catastrophe.”

Schlosberg filmed the activists who targeted TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline in Walhalla, North Dakota, and is not known to have physically taken part in the protest. Schlosberg was arrested charged with 2 Class A Felony Charges and 1 Class C Felony Charge; Conspiracy to theft of property, Conspiracy to theft of services, and Conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service. With those three charges, Deia Schlosberg faces a potential 45 years in prison for these charges.

As a well-known journalist, it is entirely within the expected nature of Deia Schlosberg’s profession to cover protests and political actions, especially those that draw national attention and are in the public interest. It is for this very reason that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

On that basis, documentary filmmaker Josh Fox has been circulating the following petition for the charges against Deia to be dropped.

We urge you to add your voice by signing the letter, and we offer this addendum:

The Voice Project condemns the arrest of Deia Schlosberg and calls on the State of North Dakota to drop the criminal complaint filed against Ms. Schlosberg on October 13, 2016. The use of arrest procedure, specious charges, and unjust imprisonment are tactics used by authoritarian regimes around the world to have a chilling effect on dissent and to impinge upon free expression and freedom of the press. This should not be allowed in the United States of America. In addition to guarantees for freedom of speech and freedom of the press in the United States constitution, these rights are also guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), each of which the United States is a party to. Furthermore, these rights are guaranteed in Article 1 of North Dakota’s State Constitution.

The charges against Deia Schlosberg represent a contravention of both domestic and international law, and must be dropped.

We thank and support Deia Schlosberg for doing the work that she does. In any society wishing to uphold human rights and maintain individual freedoms, speaking up and reporting the news in spite of intimidation is more than a job — it is a public service. For Deia’s contribution in that regard, we are truly grateful.

The Voice Project
October 16, 2016


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