Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Updated: Climate activist Tim DeChristopher sentenced to two years in prison

From Peaceful Uprising:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Climate activist Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in prison on July 26, 2011, at the Salt Lake City federal courthouse. He was taken immediately into custody, being denied the typical three weeks afforded to put his affairs in order and say goodbye to his friends and family.

Tim by Daphne Hougard. (Press Photo from

After the sentencing, the Web site Peaceful Uprising, which supports Tim's civil disobedience to call attention to climate change, reported the following: "Federal prosecutors asked for Tim to receive an extra harsh prison sentence in an effort to intimidate the movement that stands with him. They hoped that by condemning him to years behind bars, they would 'make an example out of him' and deter all of us from taking meaningful action."

Click here to see a video of the call to action by Tim's supporters outside the courthouse.

Editor's Note: In March 2011, DeChristopher was found guilty on two felony counts for derailing a Bureau of Land Management auction in December 2008.

Update: The auction was later overturned by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who ruled that the majority of parcels (including land adjacent to recreation areas, national parks and private residences) had not undergone adequate review. Despite cancelling the auction, the Obama administration proceeded to indict DeChristopher, whose trial and sentencing has continually been rescheduled for the last two and a half years. Judge Dee Benson ruled early on that Salazar’s dismissal of the auction and DeChristopher’s motivation would not be admissible in court during his trial.

Update: Tim DeChristopher was also sentenced to a $10,000 fine. Peaceful Uprising activists initiated a sit-in to blockade the two front entrances of the federal courthouse and emphasize that they had no hesitation in joining DeChristopher in jail, giving meaning to the slogan, "We are all Bidder 70 (Tim's number during the auction)." Members of the community joined the blockade to show their love and outrage, and by the time police had finished, 26 people were arrested.

DeChristopher acted to stop the oil and gas industry from drilling in pristine Utah wilderness near Arches and Canyonlands national parks and to prevent the release of greenhouse gas emissions.

Click here to see a video interview with Tim just before his sentencing.

Keweenaw Now has been following Tim's case since we met him at the 2009 Protect the Earth event in Marquette and on Eagle Rock. See our Aug. 5, 2009 article, "Protect the Earth 2009: Part 1" on Tim's presentation at Northern Michigan University. See also our Aug. 8, 2009, article, "Protect the Earth: Part 2, Walk to Eagle Rock," for Gabriel Caplett's video clip of Tim DeChristopher pouring water from Salt Lake City during the water ceremony at Eagle Rock.

Protect the Earth 2011 will take place Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011, at Van Riper State Park on the shores of Lake Michigamme in Champion, Mich. Watch for details, coming soon.

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