[Ppnews] Tim DeChristopher Sentenced Whats Next for the Environmental Movement?
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jul 28 10:19:14 EDT 2011
Tim DeChristopher Sentenced Whats Next for the Environmental Movement?
by Will Potter on July 27, 2011
in Activism & Activists'
Environmentalist Tim DeChristopher was sentenced
to two years in prison for using non-violent
civil disobedience to disrupt a sham oil and gas
auction. He had been found guilty on two felony
counts for making fake bids in the auction,
costing corporations hundreds of thousands of
dollars, and faced up to ten years.
He increased the bids on 22,000 acres of land in
Utah national parks. A federal judge later ruled the auction was illegal.
DeChristophers case has attracted international
attention, and he has become a spokesperson for
the environmental movement. This case is much
bigger than DeChristopher, though (as he has
often said himself). We all need to be thinking:
whats next? How do we move forward?
Even if you do not consider yourself an
environmentalist, or dont agree with
DeChristophers tactics, this case should raise
serious questions about the misplaced priorities
of our government and our entire culture.
DeChristophers two-year sentence is comparable
to what members of underground groups have
received for property destruction. The court has
sent the message that public, aboveground
activists, who use non-violent civil
disobedience, will be treated on par with
underground activists who use economic sabotage.
More importantly, though, the government has sent
the message that the people who step forward to
stop ecological destruction will be met with
harsh punishments, while those who responsible
for this destruction, such as the oil and gas
corporations bidding for public lands, will go about business as usual.
the judge said during sentencing: Civil
disobedience cant be the order of the day, or it will lead to chaos.
But chaos for who? For the people? For the planet? Or for corporations?
This case, and the larger
on the environmental movement, makes strikingly
clear that the government is more concerned about
the latter. As
attorney Ron Yengich said: We never impose the
rule of law on people who steal from poor people,
destroy the banking systems or destroy the earth.
Moving forward, we need to remember one thing
above all else: this is happening because DeChristopher was effective.
DeChristophers actions exposed what goes on
inside sham corporate auctions, it cost
corporations hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it galvanized the movement.
At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson
said that DeChristophers leadership in the
environmental movement, his continuing trail of
statements for civil disobedience, and his
speech outside the courthouse were the reasons he faced prison time.
The judge went so far as to take the unusual step
of having DeChristopher taken into custody of the
U.S. Marshalls until his prison sentence begins.
In many other cases I have covered, including
those of convicted arsonists, the prisoners were
allowed to self-surrender. People are generally
only taken directly into custody if they are a
violent threat or a flight risk. Why was this different?
Because DeChristopher is inspirational, and he
use his time before prison to organize.
You have authority over my life, but not my
principles. Those are mine,
said to the judge. Ill continue to confront the
system that threatens our future.
Others have vowed to do the same. Thousands will
be in Washington, D.C. in August to protest the
Keystone XL pipeline to the Tar Sands. They are
<http://www.tarsandsaction.org/>planning mass non-violent civil disobedience.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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