Jenni Monet-DAPL-Aboriginal Peoples Television Network-Canada

APTN via YouTube

Journalist and Indian Country Media Network contributor Jenni Monet talks about Standing Rock on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) on January 25, 2017.

Last Child DAPL Camp Raided; ICMN Journalist Jenni Monet Arrested

Monet texted she was ‘trapped’ just before raid

Update: Jenni Monet was released on bail from Morton County Correctional Center at approximately 11 pm, February 2.

NEW YORK—An Indian Country Media Network journalist, Jenni Monet, was jailed and 75 other people arrested after a group of water protectors headed by Chase Iron Eyes broke off and established a new camp across from the entrance of the Oceti Sakowin main camp, which is being dismantled.

Conflicting, chaotic accounts spilled out in the wake of the arrests on February 1 of a few dozen of the water protectors who set up a small camp they named the Last Child Camp. What can be ascertained is that unlike Oceti Sakowin, it was on private land, not federal land, and this gave authorities the legal right to move in and eject them. According to the Morton County Sheriff’s Office, they were told beforehand to clear out the new camp.

Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault II noted that the new camp had been established after an announcement by Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, that Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer had directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to grant the last remaining easement for Energy Transfer Partners to drill under Lake Oahe. This turned out to be erroneous, and it remains unclear whether Hoeven, who was recently named chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, had been misled, or knowingly told a falsehood.

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Also not in question was that Jenni Monet, a well-known journalist in Indian country, was pulled in along with what the Morton County Sheriff’s office called “rogue protesters” in a statement summing up the events of the day.

“Heads up. Might get arrested,” Monet texted ICMN contributor and fellow journalist Mark Trahant on Wednesday afternoon, February 1. “Big raid about to go down and I’m trapped.”

Jenni Monet text to Mark Trahant-DAPL arrest

Courtesy Mark Trahant

Journalist Jenni Monet texted fellow Indian Country Media Network contributor Mark Trahant that she could not get out of the camp and might be arrested.

Monet has written well-researched, dispassionately reported articles about numerous topics for ICMN, YES! Magazine and numerous other outlets. Her reporting on the conflict over the Dakota Access Pipeline has been balanced, fair and has examined stories from every angle.

Jenni Monet-courtesy

Courtesy Jenni Monet

Journalist and Indian Country Media Network contributor Jenni Monet.

She was scheduled to appear in court on Thursday afternoon February 2. Update, February 2, 6:20 PM EST: Calls to the courthouse have determined that though a complaint has been issued, it is not available yet, and there will be no arraignments today. Monet has been charged with criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot.

It was not clear why she was picked up even after she had identified herself as a journalist on assignment for Indian Country Media Network. News of her arrest was met with strong criticism.

“Yesterday’s unlawful arrest of Native journalist Jenni Monet by Morton County officers is patently illegal and a blatant betrayal of our closely held American values of free speech and a free press,” said Bryan T. Pollard, president of the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), to ICMN. “Jenni is an accomplished journalist and consummate professional who was covering a story on behalf of Indian Country Today. Unfortunately, this arrest is not unprecedented, and Morton County officials must review their officer training and department policies to ensure that officers are able and empowered to distinguish between protesters and journalists who are in pursuit of truthful reporting.”

RELATED: After a Month of Conflict, Mass Media Arrives in Force at Standing Rock

“We are looking carefully into the incidents leading to the arrest, to learn what happened and ensure that our journalists’ rights are protected.  To arrest and silence our journalists without proper cause would be an assault not only on the freedom of the press, but yet another infringement on the rights of all Natives to live as free and independent peoples,” said ICMN Publisher and Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter. “The events at Standing Rock are why Indian Country Media Network, and other minority media outlets, exist: to give a voice to diverse points of view often drowned out in the mainstream press.”

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department said it had had no choice but to act.

“After repeated warnings to vacate a camp being illegally set up on private property in southern Morton County, south of the Backwater Bridge, approximately 76 members of a rogue group of protesters were arrested by law enforcement officials today,” the Morton County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

The department said the raid occurred only after officers “met twice on the Backwater Bridge with a group representing the rogue camp to discuss the illegal camp.” They were informed they were trespassing, the sheriff’s office said, and given some time to pack up and leave.

“They did not show signs of starting to leave even after multiple warnings and said they would not leave,” the sheriff’s office said. “This led to the law enforcement decision to take action to enforce the law and evict the rogue group of protesters.”

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The officers started moving in at around 3:30, the statement said, and “encountered a large group of protesters trying to block their way to the trial leading to the camp.” They arrested a few people and kept moving in, repeating their requests to leave, “but the protesters refused to do so and began to use active resistance techniques.”

The officers did not raid the Oceti Sakowin camp across the street, the main one supported by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Archambault made it clear that those arrested do not represent the tribe. The tribe and state have been working to rebuild their relationship and to remove the barriers across Highway 1806.

“Last night, a group of campers moved materials onto private land,” Archambault said. “This group’s actions do not represent the tribe or the original intent of the water protectors. If we are to fight for treaty rights, then we must all work together. Tribes came to Standing Rock in support of our tribe’s effort with the recognition that it will reflect back on us all. This type of action was not undertaken in that spirit, because instead of empowering us, it undermines us.”

He reiterated and emphasized that the battle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from being routed under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe had moved to the courts and toward getting banks to divest from DAPL.

“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and allies have been leading the battle in federal court to protect our treaty rights,” Archambault said. “Those who planned to occupy the new camp are putting all of our work at risk. They also put peoples’ lives at risk. We have seen what brutality law enforcement can inflict with little provocation. There could be sacred sites on that property. These continuing actions in the face of the tribes’ plea to stand down only harm the cause that everyone came here to support.”

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