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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

Judge Rejects Proposed Riot Charges Against Democracy Now! Host Amy Goodman

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A judge has refused to sign off on proposed riot charges against Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. In September, Goodman and her crew filmed an ongoing protest by thousands of American Indian activists against a planned North Dakota pipeline. A prosecutor first charged Goodman with criminal trespass, then attempted to upgrade the charges to participating in a riot.

Goodman went back to North Dakota Monday to appear in court; shortly before she was due there, a Democracy Now! producer reported that Judge John Grinsteiner had rejected the riot charge.


The piece aired by Democracy Now! was explosive, showing security guards working for the pipeline company attacking protesters with dogs and pepper spray. One of the security guards denied macing the protesters immediately after he’d done so. From the transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: Sir, reporter from New York. What are you spraying people with?

SECURITY MAN: I didn’t spray anything, ma’am.

AMY GOODMAN: But what is that?

PROTESTER 7: This guy just maced me in the face right now. Amy Goodman, this guy maced me in the face.

LAURA GOTTESDIENER: Why don’t—can you show us the label?

PROTESTER 7: Look, it’s all over my sunglasses. Just maced me in the face. Dog bit him right now.

VICTOR PUERTAS: Throwed the dog on me. This [bleep] throwed the dog on me. Look at this. Look at this. You throwed the dog on me. No, you did it on purpose, man.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me see. Let me see.

VICTOR PUERTAS: Over there, with that dog. I was like walking. Throwed the dog on me and straight, even without any warning. You know? Look at this. Look at this.

AMY GOODMAN: That dog bit you?

VICTOR PUERTAS: Yeah, the dog did it, you know? Look at this. It’s there. It’s all bleeding.

AMY GOODMAN: Ma’am, your dog just bit this protester. Your dog just bit that protester. Are you telling the dogs to bite the protesters?

PROTESTER 8: She keeps sicking them after people.

AMY GOODMAN: The dog has blood in its nose and its mouth.

PROTESTER 8: And she’s still standing here threatening us.

PROTESTER 9: You can’t put the blame on your dog. You’re an evil woman.

PROTESTER 8: That’s mistreatment against your own animal.

PROTESTER 9: You can’t put your blame on the [bleep] dog. You’re evil.

PROTESTER 8: That’s mistreatment against your own animal.

PROTESTER 9: You will live with that.

PROTESTER 10: Get the [bleep] out of here!

PROTESTER 8: These people are just threatening all of us with these dogs. And she, that woman over there, she was charging, and it bit somebody right in the face. And then it charged at me and tried to bite me. And she’s still—they’re still threatening those dogs against us. And we’re not doing anything.

AMY GOODMAN: Why are you letting their—her dog go after the protesters? It’s covered in blood!


Work on the pipeline was “voluntarily” halted by the federal government in early September. Goodman has denied both trespassing and rioting.


Goodman appeared live outside the courthouse in North Dakota today to point out that more than 140 protesters have been arrested there so far.

“It’s a vindication for all journalists,” Goodman told other reporters. “We need to be able to report and the state should not interfere.”


“We love you!” someone shouted from the crowd. Same.