[Update: As of June 21, over 40 communities have answered the call to action--in every Circuit Court District in the United States. Take a look at this interactive Action Map to find a planned rally near you, or to start one of your own]
By issuing another last-minute delay, Judge Dee Benson has made it clear that he is desperate to avoid public accountability for the persecution of peaceful climate justice activist Tim DeChristopher. The change was made directly following our announcement that there would be nationwide solidarity actions on June 23rd. It is another attempt to defeat citizen organizing, it will not succeed.
Such delay tactics did not work before. Tim’s trial was rescheduled nine times over a period of two years–without explanation. They can do the same old moves with the sentencing hearing, but those fighting for a just and healthy world know that we cannot wait.
Staging large rallies without a sentence being handed down doesn’t make sense. So we have created a modified plan. Peaceful Uprising has prepared a simple action that anyone can take on June 23rd. All it takes is an email, a camera, and a quick trip to your local federal courthouse. Click here to take action in solidarity with Tim DeChristopher.
The prosecution in USA vs. TimDeChristopher never thought that they’d be in this position. They filed the outrageous charges thinking they’d deter others from daring to address the government’s failure to protect a livable future for it’s citizens. Instead, they’ve ignited a movement, and it’s too late for them to turn back.
Analysis – a political power struggle
Tim’s trial is political in nature. As in any political battle, one side is fighting to hold on to power while the other seeks change. Currently, political power in the United States serves the interests of large industries over those of its citizens. When Tim disrupted an illegal Government auction of our public land to fossil fuel developers, he exposed the corrupt relationship between our Government and the most powerful industry on the planet. What we are witnessing is embarrassment, expressed as retribution.
The battle scenario is relatively simple. To hold on to the power it enjoys, the Government must address significant strategical disadvantages:
– The US public is overwhelmingly sympathetic toward Tim. Even those that disagree with him on certain issues see that something is fishy here: Why is a principled, intelligent young man with no criminal record, who committed an act of peaceful civil disobedience, being threatened with federal prison–after being silenced in court–while the CEO’s responsible for the deaths of Gulf Coast residents are given a pass? Why do those few individuals responsible for the financial crisis continue to walk freely on Wall Street?
– The original sentencing date happens to be the 23rd anniversary of a groundbreaking testimony to Congress by the world’s leading climatologist, Dr. James Hansen, wherein he warned them of imminent climate change. 23 years later, Congress has still failed to act.
“Tim DeChristopher risked his future for the sake of our children’s. Courage like his can help us win the battle to preserve a liveable planet, by bringing the focus onto the polluters and their well-oiled coal-fired supporters, who are the ones that should be on trial.” ~Dr. James Hansen
– Peaceful Uprising had just published a call for nationwide solidarity actions at federal courthouses, which was endorsed by major climate organizations and leaders, including Bill McKibben (founder of 350.org), Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace USA, Kids vs. Global Warming, Post Carbon Institute, Rising Tide North America, Progressive Democrats of America, and more. Terry Tempest Williams (renowned environmental author and activist, whom Oprah Winfrey listed as the “2nd most powerful woman on the planet”), issued this statement to Peaceful Uprising:
“The postponement of Tim DeChristopher’sentencing hearing is a further postponement of justice, an ongoing breach of public trust. Cowardice and corruption are siblings in a dysfunctional and decadent society. This decision cinches the verdict: DeChristopher is not guilty, America’s judicial system is guilty. Here is a true sentence: expose this trial for what it is: fraudulent.” – Terry Tempest Williams
–The Judge in Tim’s case is also a liability. His record shows he believes that people who commit crimes out of political principle deserve harsher punishment than those who simply break the law. He has created political prisoners before. Now, after disallowing Tim’s defense the opportunity to explain his motives, or to mention the illegality of the federal auction to the Jury, it is clear that no matter what the sentence, Tim will become a victim of political persecution. This is particularly troublesome because…
The Judge and prosecution knows that with Tim’s sentencing comes automatic national media attention. There is no way for them to avoid losing political legitimacy when the story is told, especially when it is reported that actions were taken at federal courthouses around the nation. They do not want the populace to become emboldened by witnessing growing solidarity for a person who advocates citizen empowerment, because it comes in direct conflict with the interests of industry. The best they can do is try to minimize damage by moving the date around.
–We are at the beginning of a Presidential election season. Political scientists are keenly aware of social currents, and are paid by campaigns to create strategies with the singular goal of maintaining power. To that end, nothing is more disastrous than a divided, disillusioned base. The BLM (the agency represented by the prosecution in Tim’s case) is under the direct control of a Democratic Executive Branch, which ran a billion-dollar campaign in 2008. Tim is an open critic of the failures of both parties, and people are listening. Weary progressives who hear Tim’s message may be uninspired to vote for Democrats on election day.
Industry and current political powers recognize that we are armed with the truth, a positive message, and popular support. Their best defense is to try to get us to fall back to sleep. We won’t. And we aren’t the only citizenry waking up to the subversion of its Government.
Right now, a huge shift is taking place in the world. The viral outbreak of relatively peaceful, people-powered uprisings is akin to an immune response to the poisoning of our planet and our politics by industry. In Tunsia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Spain, and elsewhere, people are reclaiming power from the entrenched interests of multinational corporate interests. In the US, we are seeing a labor uprising, and climate justice is clearly joining the fray. [Update: the anti-war movement has now announced a "Tahir Square" style occupation of Washington, DC in October.]
After a corrupt trial, any sentence handed to Tim DeChristopher will be unjust. Yet, he has accepted this as his “role” in the movement. “Many have gone to jail for justice before,” he told a tearful crowd of supporters after being found guilty by a Jury, “and if we are going to achieve our goals, many after me will have to go as well.”
“We’ll go with you!” The crowd cried, their fists held high against the granite pillars of the federal courthouse.
Visit www.peacefuluprising.org/climate-trial for more.