Update: This article has been corrected since it was first posted.
Jenni Monet, Laguna Pueblo of New Mexico, has been found not guilty of criminal trespassing which had been elevated to a class A misdemeanor weeks prior to her court date.
According to the Bismarck Tribune, South Central Judicial District Judge Thomas Schneider said journalist Jenni Monet complied with law enforcement orders while reporting on the demonstration and he doesn’t believe she knowingly broke the law.
Monet is an independent journalist who spent several months in North Dakota covering the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Monet reported for several media organizations throughout the protests at Standing Rock including Indian Country Today prior to its transfer of ownership. Other bylines by Monet are in association with The Center for Investigative Reporting, Yes! Magazine, PBS Newshour, High Country News and other outlets.
Monet, who was arrested while covering protests of the Pipeline in North Dakota, told Indian Country Today how she felt regarding the verdict.
“Judge Schneider, in delivering a not guilty plea, showed amazing courage to stand up for press freedom, the truth and every American’s right to know. While the verdict is a win for journalism, it’s also a reminder that the First Amendment belongs to all Americans including the hundreds of water protectors who faced arrest for speaking up in defense of honoring the Treaties,” said Monet.
She was detained and arrested on February 1 even though she had presented her Yes! Magazine press credentials to law enforcement officers.
Monet wrote in Indian Country Today about being denied a phone call and was detained for more than 30 hours. She also said that she and other Native American detainees were subjected to strip searches while other non-Native detainees were not.
Monet was awarded Columbia University’s Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award and the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation’s First Amendment Award in 2017.
Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on TwitterFollow @VinceSchilling