WDAZ reporter attacked on the Spirit Lake ReservationA WDAZ reporter says he was just doing his job when two people attacked him on the Spirit Lake Reservation. The incident happened just after 3:30 Tuesday afternoon when reporter Adam Ladwig was on the scene of a garage fire at a residence.
By: David Schwab, WDAZ
A WDAZ reporter says he was just doing his job when two people attacked him on the Spirit Lake Reservation. The incident happened just after 3:30 Tuesday afternoon when reporter Adam Ladwig was on the scene of a garage fire at a residence.
He says two women, later joined by two men, attempted to destroy his camera.
Adam Ladwig has been covering the Devils Lake area for almost two years. Tuesday was just a typical day for Ladwig when he spotted a plume of smoke while covering an unrelated story on the Spirit Lake Reservation. It was a garage fire that he decided to record.
"I made a point of staying off their property. I was on the other side of the fence. I feel I was in the right there. I had a right to film what was happening," said Ladwig.
Ladwig says he wasn't there long before being approached by two older women.
Adam: "They didn't say anything until they got right on me. And they started yelling obscenities at me telling me to stop filming and get out of there."
But the women didn't stop there. Ladwig says both women immediately then grabbed the camera, as Ladwig bear hugged it in order to protect it.
"I had my camera in my hands, still attached to the tripod. And one of the women had the other end of the tripod and she wasn't letting go. And I didn't want to yank it away from her and harm her or the camera," Ladwig said.
After a short struggle Ladwig regained control of the camera, which had now been damaged. But the confrontation wasn't over. At that point Ladwig was told by a BIA officer that was on the scene prior to the incident to destroy the footage that he had shot of the fire. Adam knew as a journalist he had a right to keep the files for his story but decided it was not worth it.
Adam: "I was afraid that if I said I couldn't delete the footage I would be attacked again because during that time two gentlemen came up along with the two women who originally attacked me. And they were threatening to go grab a hammer and get the tape out that way."
Adam did delete the clips on one of two cards in the camera. He didn't realized until getting back to Devils Lake that the other memory card contained the footage as well. Ladwig says the media gets a bad wrap on the Reservation because of some of the negative things that have to be covered there.
"And that has gotten worse over the summer, because there has been a lot of controversy, there has been a shift in power on the reservation. So I think that group that was in power, that is no longer in power, partially blames the coverage so they are taking it out on me," said Ladwig.
Ladwig says he still feels welcome by the majority of people on the Spirit Lake Reservation and it's likely only a small faction that doesn't like the media. He says he hopes this one incident doesn't affect future coverage of stories there.
Ladwig : "There is a phrase in journalism that 'you want to report the news, you don't want to be the news.' So I'm the story right now. And I don't want to be," said Ladwig.
This is the second time this year that a reporter has been attacked on the Spirit Lake Reservation, In June a reporter from a Fargo TV Station was involved in an altercation while shooting video. WDAZ Station Manager Rob Horken had this comment about Tuesday's incident:
"We take our job of bringing the news to our viewers very seriously. When that responsibility is jeopardized by an act of violence at a WDAZ reporter it simply is not acceptable."