Freedom of Speech

Drop the Charges Against Deia Schlosberg, Lindsey Grayzel and Carl Davis

* Update November 4, 2016: All charges against Lindsey Grayzel and Carl Davis have been dropped. The charges against Deia Schlosberg are still outstanding.

** Update November 30, 2016: Deia Schlosberg’s prosecution has been officially suspended by the state of North Dakota.

On October 11, three documentary filmmakers were arrested while filming activists as they attempted to shut down oil pipelines between Canada and the United States. The filmmakers were recording activists who participated in a coordinated protest that shut down pipelines in the states of Washington, Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota to protest global warming.

Deia faces 2 Class A felony charges and 1 Class C felony charge, including conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services, conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service, carrying a maximum potential sentence of 45 years. Grayzel and Davis face felony charges of second-degree burglary, criminal sabotage and assemblage of saboteurs with maximum sentences of 30 years in prison and fines of $46,000.

Deia Schlosberg, Lindsey Grayzel and Carl Davis were acting as journalists, not protesters, and as such are protected by freedom of speech and freedom of the press rights. While it is not uncommon for journalists to face arrest and misdemeanor charges for trespassing or disorderly conduct while reporting at controversial protests, it is rare for charges of conspiracy, burglary and sabotage to be brought against members of the media. The use of specious and inflated charges is a tactic used by repressive regimes around the world in order to dissuade reporting, and due to the intended chilling effect on free expression and a free press, should not be allowed or tolerated in the states of North Dakota or Washington, or anywhere in the United States.

Recording civil disobedience and arrests is newsgathering, not conspiracy. No journalist should fear this type or overreaching prosecution for reporting.

We call on authorities in North Dakota and Washington to drop these unconstitutional charges and to stop interfering with filmmakers and journalists doing their jobs.

Please lend your voice to help get these charges dropped.


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