Tag Archive: Law. Ecology

Jul 27 2011

Eco-Activist Bidder #70 Gets 2 Years In Jail

US eco-activist jailed for two years

Campaigners denounce sentence of ‘hero’ Tim DeChristopher for disrupting oil and gas industry auction as excessive

Tim DeChristopher was immediately ordered into custody, and fined $10,000. He had been facing a potential sentence of up to 10 years and a $750,000 fine.

snip

As Bidder No 70, DeChristopher disrupted what was seen as a last giveaway to the oil and gas industry by the Bush administration by bidding $1.8m (£1.1m) he did not have for the right to drill in remote areas of Utah. He was convicted of defrauding the government last March.

In a phone conversation with The Guardian, a day ahead of sentencing, he said he was expecting jail time: “I do think I will serve some time in prison. That is what I think will be the next chapter in my life.”

DeChristopher’s lawyers had argued that his actions in December 2008 were a one-off, and that the judge should show leniency. They argued DeChristopher had not intended to cause harm.

However, Judge Dee Benson said DeChristopher’s political beliefs did not excuse his actions.

Is this justice? Chris in Paris at AMERICAblog thinks this sentence raises questions about the fairness of criminal justice system considering the slap on the wrist the Wall St., Haliburton, and the oil and gas industries have received. DeChristopher, in an opinion article at Common Dreams, asks not for mercy but that we stand with him to protect the environment and our right to challenge the government through non-violent protest.

I’m not saying any of this to ask you for mercy, but to ask you to join me.  If you side with Mr Huber (the prosecuting US Attorney) and believe that your role is to discourage citizens from holding their government accountable, then you should follow his recommendations and lock me away.  I certainly don’t want that.  I have no desire to go to prison, and any assertion that I want to be even a temporary martyr is false.  I want you to join me in standing up for the right and responsibility of citizens to challenge their government.  I want you to join me in valuing this country’s rich history of nonviolent civil disobedience.  If you share those values but think my tactics are mistaken, you have the power to redirect them.  You can sentence me to a wide range of community service efforts that would point my commitment to a healthy and just world down a different path.  You can have me work with troubled teens, as I spent most of my career doing.  You can have me help disadvantaged communities or even just pull weeds for the BLM.  You can steer that commitment if you agree with it, but you can’t kill it.  This is not going away.   At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like.  In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like.  With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow.  The choice you are making today is what side are you on.