Originally posted on August 3, 2011
by Emily Bowers
Image by Daphne Hougard, 2011
Tim DeChristopher’s fate was decided last week at the Salt Lake City federal courthouse. He was sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of $10,000 for disrupting a controversial federal oil and gas-leasing auction in December of 2008, but his sentence was not taken quietly.
Twenty-six of his supporters were arrested after the sentence was announced when they blockaded the entrance to courthouse and then, according to Fox13 News, moved to the middle of the street when police refused to arrest them on the steps.
In an official statement posted by Peaceful Uprising, the organization wrote that they support DeChristopher by continuing to organize: “Our response to this sentence is an affirmation: we will not be intimidated. What’s yours?”
The post continues, “Unless we decide to respond accordingly, as Tim serves his time, the real criminals — the fossil fuel industry wrecking our planet and our communities — will continue to run free, unaccountable for the countless oil spills, asthma attacks, contaminated waterways, cancer clusters, and carbon seeping into the air we breathe every day.”
Bill McKibben, a DeChristopher supporter and environmental figurehead, denounced the sentence as too strict and continues to call for more civil disobedience in the environmental movement. His organization, 350.org, is rallying people to answer the call for peaceful uprising through two weeks of sustained civil disobedience to halt the Keystone XL tarsands pipeline. The tarsands action is to be held between August 20th and Septmeber 3rd in Washington D.C, and may prove for many DeChristopher supporters the outlet they are looking for in response to his sentence.
Coverage of the sentencing ranges from local TV footage of the protests to commentary in the Huffington Post.
But those of us of a more moderate bent should stand up and support DeChristopher as well. This is someone whose actions stopped an unlawful, unethical act from taking place. He deserved to be found guilty, but he also deserved a minimal sentence. His was not a crime of vandalism or violence — only a commercial act which disrupted something which shouldn’t have been going on anyway. It was, in many ways, a desperate act, but it was also an act of conscience.
(–Jay Michaelson: Why Liberals Should Be Outraged by the Tim DeChristopher Sentence. July 27,2011)