Spontaneous, Inspiring, Guilty
“No one ever told us that this battle would be easy. No one ever told us that we wouldn’t have to make sacrifices. We knew that when we started this fight.” –Tim DeChristopher
Tim DeChristopher, known to many as Bidder70 was convicted on felony charges after he disrupted and ultimately helped dismantle a bogus land auction slapped together in the last moments of the Bush administration, essentially handing over public land for oil & gas development.
As Bidder70, Tim not only drove up prices discouraging competing buyers, he also won several of the leases, which of course he had neither the means to nor the intention of paying. It was an incredible moment and since that day it’s been celebrated as a spontaneous, creative and effective example of peaceful civil disobedience. However no matter how creative and inspiring, he faced two felony charges for violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act and for False Statement ($750 000 or 5 years in prison each). Ultimately, Tim even managed to raise the money for the leases he won, but was rejected.
Since the auction, the vast majority of the leases in question have been dismissed by the current US administration, mainly because the areas were undeveloped and inappropriate for this type of auction — the reason Tim was drawn to the auction in the first place. In the end, Secretary Salazar only allowed 29 of 116 land parcels to move through auction. In a just world, that would be the end of the story; citizens and government agree that the auctions were illegitimate and everyone goes home happy.
Last week, Tim was brought to trial (after six delays) in Salt Lake City. In a shocking turn, Tim was denied the “necessity defense” which would have allowed his lawyers to offer a complete explanation of the injustice of these leases and why Tim was compelled to act. Judge Benson, however, prohibited this, even forbidding them to present on why the auction was illegitimate, declaring that Secretary Salazar’s dismissal of these leases was not relevant evidence. Which is, of course, outrageous.
Today, Tim DeChristopher was found guilty.
Sentencing remains to be determined.
But this is far from over. The Bidder70 case is just one example of what we’re capable of; he was one person, on one day. This is the tip of the climate activism iceberg, pun intended.
Leaving the courthouse, Tim made an incredible speech — you can check out full text and video here. Looking for more? Check out Bill Mckibben’s post, As climate crime continues, who are we sending to jail?
“Outraged and inspired? Tim was brave and alone. Next time — let’s take the leap together.” — 350.org
Looking somewhere to leap?
If you’re in Canada, the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition is accepting applications for volunteer coordinators. More immediately, you can (and should!) join the Climate Action Network phone mob to end oil subsidies — just give Harper (and anyone else, for that matter) a call and let them (or their answering machine, as it often turns out) know your thoughts on the $1.4 billion that our government is spending annually on oil subsidies.
Just get involved in your community, where ever you are. There has never been a more important time to get involved. Revolution is in the air. There has never been a better reason to rise up. Last year in Cancun, Bill McKibben made that clear, asking us how many people get to say that they spend everyday working on the single most important issue facing humankind.