“I’m an award-winning journalist.”
A journalist who advocates for American Indian rights has continued to claim that her arrest for alleged drunken crimes was the result of racial profiling.
In a statement posted to Facebook on April 20, Jenni Monet apologized to “Indian Country” for contributing to “chronic negativity” in media coverage of Native Americans. However, she insisted that she had not been drunk when she was arrested outside a New Mexico liquor store earlier in the month – despite the accounts of police, witnesses and body camera footage.
[This] is a story not about belligerent drinking but rather legitimate outrage in how quickly and persistently brown women like we are disbelieved, gaslighted and presented with microaggressions at seemingly every turn,” she said. “The mental coping of many months and weeks and now days has been incredibly taxing. I am seeking proper attention and care to manage during these difficult times.”
Monet was arrested on April 5 after deputies reported finding her drunk in her care outside the liquor store. According to New Mexico police, she had tried to buy wine at the store, but employees had refused to sell to her because she looked intoxicated.
Security footage from inside the store captured Monet shouting and gesturing obscenely at the staff. Both she and they called police.
When officers arrived, body camera footage showed one of them asking her why her breath smelled like alcohol and her eyes were “bloodshot and watery.” She denied drinking, and said she had been crying because she had “just gotten a hurtful email from an industry colleague.”
Monet told the officer that the liquor store employees had racially profiled her.
“How are they racially profiling you, is why I’m trying to get at?” he asked.
“Because I’m a brown woman. Do you not see that?” she replied, pointing at her face.
Monet went on to refuse field sobriety tests, and angrily declared: “I’m an award-winning journalist. You can look me up: Jenni Monet. Go ahead.”
As an officer gently moved to handcuff her, she repeatedly screamed “Police brutality!” She also called him a “fat-fingered fuck” and a “white supremacist.”
Monet was later charged with aggravated DWI and resisting arrest. She was due to appear in court this Wednesday for a pre-trial hearing.
On April 11, after giving a lecture at the Institute of Native American Arts, Monet repeated to KRQE News 13 that she is an “award-winning journalist” and a victim.
“I am one of a majority of people who are victimized by this kind of racial profiling that exists on a daily basis. Neither was I drinking or driving at the time, and we are confident that the evidence that stands in my favor will vindicate me.”
She also threatened to sue the station over its story about her.
Monet was previously arrested for trespassing in 2018 and, before that, while reporting on the Standing Rock Sioux’s protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota in 2017. She was also a caught drunk driving in Colorado two decades ago.
She received a number of honors for her Standing Rock coverage – including being named Journalist of the Year by Newswomen’s Club of New York – and campaigned for press freedom on behalf of Amnesty International.
Despite the charges against her, Monet has been participating in a prestigious fellowship at Marquette University in Wisconsin.
I was arrested during the worst year on record for #WorldPressFreedom and now face a jury trial on June 1, 2018.
Without safe journalism there is no information.
Without information, there is no freedom.
— Jenni Monet (@jennimonet) May 3, 2018
Her career is in many ways reflective of a growing polarization of media. While partisans on both left and right have bemoaned the trend – with each side accusing the other of promoting misinformation and hatred – some commentators have suggested it’s inevitable and not necessarily bad news.