More Than a Day of Action: The Plan for Tim DeChristopher’s Sentencing

For more details, information, and resources, visit the full Climate Trial page.

June 23rd, 2011: climate activist Tim DeChristopher will be sentenced at the Federal Courthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah, after being convicted of two felony charges in March. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $750,000 fine for peacefully derailing an oil and gas lease auction in December 2008.

Tim’s conviction is a miscarriage of justice that threatens all citizens who desire a livable future and a representative government.  During Tim’s trial in March, people from all over the country responded to the government’s attempt at intimidation with joy and resolve; this time, we must acknowledge our anger–we must, as Terry Tempest Williams observed, summon “new volumes of outrage and love.”

1. June 23rd; Day of Sentencing: We asked people to join us in Salt Lake for Tim’s trial in March. The invitation stands for sentencing, but we know many people cannot be here. Therefore, we encourage you to go to the federal courthouse in your state on June 23rd. Show the justice system that their actions are unacceptable; make it clear that when they persecute one citizen, they threaten us all. Demonstrate your outrage, and the love you have for the world you want to create. The justice system wants to see the flame of activism die out; show them that we are only becoming stronger. We know by observing history that nonviolent movements are more effective than destructive ones. Remember, we are dismantling a system that is loyal to greed and fueled by fear. We will not change that through fighting with the police or destroying property. We will defeat these things by using outrage as fuel for our courage, generosity, and resolve.

2. June 24th: Boot camp BBQ:  We immediately begin the work of reclaiming our communities. On June 24th, we will host an open, day-long gathering in a Salt Lake City public park. For the first part of the day, we will conduct mass-trainings in nonviolent action and action planning techniques; then we’ll break out to put them to use. As food is prepared, we’ll pull together to plan community-wide actions for the following day. As twilight falls, with full bellies and the satisfaction of creating a great plan, we’ll listen to live music and dance.

3. June 25th: Community Audit Action: During the boot camp BBQ, we will choose “hot and cool spots” in Salt Lake Valley. We will use a “shotgun approach” to visit each of these. Hot spots are places where unchecked greed threatens our collective future, poisons our environment, and marginalizes our neighbors.Cool spots are places where organizations are already at work creating the world we want to see. Together, we will show the hot spots just how we feel about their destructive agenda, and honor the cool spots for their integrity and praxis.

The date of Tim’s sentencing marks the 23-year anniversary of NASA scientist James’ Hansen memorable testimony to Congress, on June 23rd, 1988. For the first time, Hansen confronted our leaders about the threats of a warming planet. Hansen stated that Earth had entered a long-term warming trend, the result of human-made greenhouse gases. Extracting data from scientific studies, observations and basic physics, he concluded that the evidence was strong enough that it was time to “stop waffling.”

Almost a quarter of a century later, we still find ourselves trying to convince politicians to take us seriously.

Once we realize that signing petitions from the convenience of our computers and cruising our social media networks just isn’t enough, we’re faced with intimidation. An oppressive system seeks to divide us, and to force us to live in fear of sharing our convictions and our ideals. When we witness a wrong being committed, is it not our moral imperative to make it right—especially when it threatens human rights, social justice, and our very survival?

Consider this our call to you. On June 23rd, show the world that we will not be intimidated; that it is our right to challenge the status quo; that we embrace peaceful civil disobedience as a tradition and as a vital tactic, if it means standing in the way of corporate rape and pillaging of our planet; that we will demand jury trials and empower our peers to be the true conscience of their community.

If you can come to Salt Lake City, we welcome you with open arms. If you cannot, find a federal courthouse near you. Demonstrate. Stand in joy and resolve. Show your outrage that one of our brothers could face the most severe sentence in history for a nonviolent direct action— raising a bidder paddle.

Reclaim your voice. Because you are not alone. The entire climate justice movement is standing behind you.

Questions or ideas?