Charge Dropped for Independent Journalist Arrested in Mississippi Stand #NoDAPL Protest

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Unicorn Riot/screenshot

A video journalist for the independent media outlet Unicorn Riot who was arrested for trespassing Oct. 12 during a Lee County protest against the Dakota Access pipeline had her charge dismissed today, according to online court records.

The journalist, Jenn Schreiter, was arrested outside Keokuk in southeastern Iowa during a Mississippi Stand protest when a water protector, as the protesters have called themselves, locked herself to the pipeline company’s construction equipment. She was released on a $300 bond posted by another Unicorn Riot journalist, Lorenzo Serna, and pleaded not guilty, later requesting a jury trial. The case was dismissed before going to trial.

Serna himself was arrested for trespassing during a previous Lee County protest Oct. 7, when water protectors prevented construction workers from drilling under the Mississippi River, under which the Dakota Access pipeline now crosses. He was also swept up in a mass arrest during a prayer walk in Morton County, North Dakota, near the Standing Rock Reservation, and charged with trespassing and engaging in a riot.

In North Dakota, officers have arrested hundreds of water protectors and journalists, sometimes hitting them with outrageous felony charges just for bearing witness to protests. The protest camps there were recently raided by authorities, leading to dozens more arrests, after President Trump overturned an Obama-administration order for an environmental impact statement, greenlighting the completion of the pipeline.

Serna’s trial in Lee County was scheduled today for April 4.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.