North Dakota Seeks to Restrict Access to Public Records After Standing Rock Reporting Exposed Law Enforcement Abuses
by Will Parrish
Posted March 14, 2019
North Dakota lawmakers are considering a bill to restrict the release of records related to security operations involving “critical infrastructure” — a category that includes fossil fuel pipelines. The bill comes after The Intercept and other media outlets published stories documenting law enforcement surveillance and coordination with private security during the Dakota Access pipeline protests, many of which were based on records released under the North Dakota Open Records Act.
The struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline galvanized a global movement, but it also led to intensive police monitoring, violent suppression of protests, and the prolonged prosecution of hundreds of activists. The overwhelming majority of charges brought against pipeline opponents were eventually dismissed due to lack of evidence. In numerous cases, lawyers and activists drew on documents that media outlets obtained via open records requests to defend those under prosecution. More…
Many politicians routinely protect their big corporate donors and their hired enforcers rather than representing the voters who elected them.
What will be the consequences of even less transparency as the government uses its monopoly on legal violence violence to suppress legitimate dissent? If peaceful dissent is suppressed, will it make violent dissent more likely?