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Letter supporting journalists at Standing Rock

Levi Bachmeier, Policy Advisor, Governor’s Office
Scott Davis, North Dakota Director Dept. of Indian Affairs
Rob Keller, Morton County Sheriff’s Department
Maj. French Pope, Army Corp of Engineers
Weldon Loudermilk, Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs
Kevin Haugrud, Acting Secretary, Department of the Interior
Sen. John Hoeven, R-North Dakota; Chair, U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

Feb. 21, 2017

Dear local law enforcement, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and government officials,

As the planned enforcement of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ evacuation order to
those at the Dakota Access Pipeline camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota is underway, the
organizations below urge officials to allow journalists to cover the events without fear of
arrest, violence or other threats.

It is important for journalists to document the events occurring in and around the camps
at Standing Rock through the eviction process. The public has a right to know what is
happening there. It is journalists’ jobs – and right under the First Amendment of the U.S.
Constitution — to cover the story through reporting, writing, photographing, videotaping
and broadcasting these events as they happen.

As you may know, we reached out last week to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department
to offer training to law enforcement and journalists there on ways they can peacefully
work together. As of Tuesday afternoon, we had not heard back from them, but the offer
of providing assistance still stands.

We recognize that in the age of social media and blogging that the lines can often seem
blurred between who is covering an event versus who is protesting. Those covering the
story at Standing Rock as journalists should not face arrest, injury or confiscation of their

Additionally, we urge you to drop charges against journalists who have been arrested
while covering events at Standing Rock, and welcome any opportunity to meet and
further discuss these issues with you.

Committee to Protect Journalists
Native American Journalists Association
National Press Photographers Association
Online News Association
Society of Professional Journalists