Documentary film producer, Deia Schlosberg, was arrested Tuesday in North Dakota for simply filming footage of a protest action for a new climate change documentary.
Protesters were engaged in an action to disturb the flow of oil through underground pipelines. Schlosberg’s film footage was confiscated and she was held in jail for 48 hours without access to a lawyer, despite the fact that she was reporting on, not participating in, the protest.
Yesterday Schlosberg was charged with two Class A felony charges and one Class C felony charge: conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service. Together, these charges carry a maximum term of 45 years in prison.
The director of the film, Josh Fox, wrote, “This should send chills down the spine of every documentary filmmaker and journalist. In my view, the North Dakota police are in violation of the First Amendment, charging a documentary filmmaker with conspiracy rather than viewing her as a reporter/journalist exercising her First Amendment right is unfair, unjust and illegal.”
This week actress Shailene Woodley was also arrested at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest, and told by police that she was singled out because she is a celebrity with notoriety and public attention.
Renewed attention to the oil pipelines in North Dakota began after thousands of activists fled to the state to protest the construction of the 1,200 mile Dakota Access Pipeline that would run oil underground near Lake Oahe, which is a major water supply for local ranches, the Missouri River and the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.