A photo of actress Shailene Woodley.

Photo credit: S_Bukley / Shutterstock

Shailene Woodley, who plays the main character in the Divergent series, was arrested for “criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot” when she participated in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. While she wasn’t the only one to be arrested (27 people were arrested that day as well) she stands out because she’s well known outside of activist circles. If convicted, she faces two months in jail and $3,000 in fines. Her trial is slated to start on January 25th, 2017 and she has plead not guilty.

What makes Woodley’s case interesting is that she is a celebrity and was live-streaming the protests on Facebook when she was arrested. Upwards of 40,000 people were watching when she was arrested while returning to her car, after authorities told her to leave the protest site. It seems like Woodley was complying with the authorities’ directives and was arrested anyway.

“We were going to our vehicle which they had all surrounded and (were) waiting for me with giant guns and a giant truck behind them just so they could arrest me,” Woodley stated.

According to Woodley, police told her they were arresting her because she was well known. In other words, she was targeted because she was making it possible for others to see what was happening at the protest. Since she’s not being charged with anything related to live-streaming, that implies that doing so wasn’t illegal, but that the police are targeting her in a way that seems very much like a violation of her First Amendment rights.

2016 has made it very apparent that cops do not like to be filmed, despite the fact that they have no legal recourse against it. If Woodley is correct, then the police targeted her because she had the audacity to enact her First Amendment rights, making this trial about a whole lot more than just trespassing.

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Sarah is a freelance writer with a wide variety of interests, including international relations, politics, education, humanitarianism, women's rights, yoga, mental and physical health, and natural remedies.