Archive for category DeChristopher
Chris Hayes is the first cable host to interview Tim DeChristopher. Rachel Maddow announced such an interview a couple of years ago, but then substituted some hack from EarthJustice who didn’t approve of civil disobedience.
My favorite part is when Tim explains that it’s already too late to avoid the tipping points that trigger drastic climate change, but that makes it even more urgent to reform our political system. The current corrupt regime won’t be able to cope with a planetary emergency.
On December 19, 2008, in a courageous act of civil disobedience, Tim DeChristopher protested an oil and gas lease auction of 116 parcels of public land in Utah’s red rock country, conducted by the Bureau of Land Management. DeChristopher decided to participate in the auction, signing a bidder registration Form and placing bids to obtain 14 parcels of land (totaling 22,500 acres) for $1.8 million. DeChristopher was removed from the auction by federal agents, taken into custody, and questioned.
The auction was later declared illegal by incoming Obama Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar.
Nonetheless, DeChristopher was aggressively persecuted by George W. Bush-appointed federal prosecutors a judge who’s tenure included Chief of Staff for Senator Orrin Hatch. DeChristopher courageously refused all plea offers to avoid jail time. On July 26, 2011, Judge Dee Benson sentenced DeChristopher to two years in prison;
Peaceful Uprising is organizing a screening of Bidder70 in Salt Lake City: the first that Tim will be able to attend since the movie premiered last year! In conjunction with this event, the filmmakers (Beth & George Gage) have partnered with a film distributor, Gathr Films, to organize countrywide simultaneous theatrical screenings.
An hour-long post-screening discussion and Q&A with Tim will be streamed so that everyone, no matter where they are watching, will be able to participate: by watching and/or sending questions via Twitter. It wouldn’t be a true PeaceUp celebration without song, which is why we’ve invited our dear friend Bryan Cahall (whose song Arise you will recognize in the movie) to join in a jam session as well.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Sign up to host your own local screening of Bidder 70: http://
2. Join PeaceUp in helping Gathr spread the word, by inviting your friends to their Facebook event, sharing it via the Twitter webs and updating your Facebook status:https://www.facebook.com/
3. Contribute to Bidder70?s IndieGoGo Distribution campaign (http://www.indiegogo.com/
4. Come to Salt Lake City. Details about our SLC Screening can be found by clicking HERE.
Do something. Peaceful Uprising
“What one person can do is to plant the seeds of love and outrage in the hearts of a movement,” writes DeChristopher.
The following text appeared in a handwritten letter from Tim DeChristopher addressed to Grist’s Jennifer Prediger.
If I had ever doubted the power of words, Judge Benson made their importance all too clear at my sentencing last month. When he sentenced me to two years in prison plus three years probation, he admitted my offense “wasn’t too bad.” The problem, Judge Benson insisted, was my “continuing trail of statements” and my lack of regret. Apparently, all he really wanted was an apology, and for that, two years in prison could have been avoided. In fact, Judge Benson said that had it not been for the political statements I made in public, I would have avoided prosecution entirely. As is generally the case with civil disobedience, it was extremely important to the government that I come before the majesty of the court with my head bowed and express regret. So important, in fact, that an apology with proper genuflection is currently fair trade for a couple years in prison. Perhaps that’s why most activist cases end in a plea bargain.
Since that seems like such a good deal, some people are asking why I wasn’t willing to shut my mouth and take it. But perhaps we should be asking why the government is willing to make such a deal. The most recent plea bargain they offered me was for as little as 30 days in jail. (I’m writing this on my 28th day.) So if they wanted to lock me up for two years, why would they let me walk for an apology and keeping my mouth shut for a while? On the other hand, if they wanted to sweep this under the rug, why would they cause such a stir by locking me up? Why do my words make that much of a difference?
With all criminal cases, of which 85 percent end in a plea bargain, the government has a strong incentive to avoid a trial: In addition to cutting the expense of a trial, a plea bargain helps concentrate power in the hands of government officials.
The revolutionaries who founded this country were deeply distrustful of a concentration of power, so among other precautions, they established citizen juries as the most important part of our legal system and insisted upon constitutional right to a jury trial. To avoid this inconvenience, those seeking concentrated power free from revolutionaries have minimized the role of citizens in our legal system. They have accomplished this by restricting what juries can hear, what they can decide upon, and most importantly, by avoiding jury trials all together. It is now accepted as a basic fact of our criminal justice system that a defendant who exercises his or her right to a jury trial will be punished at sentencing for doing so. Transferring power from citizens to government happens when the role of citizens gets eliminated in the process.
With civil disobedience cases, however, the government puts an extra value on an apology. By its very nature, civil disobedience is an act whose message is that the government and its laws are not the sole voice of moral authority. It is a statement that we the citizens recognize a higher moral code to which the law is no longer aligned, and we invite our fellow citizens to recognize the difference. A government truly of the people, for the people, and by the people is not threatened by citizens issuing such a challenge. But government whose authority depends on an ignorant or apathetic citizenry is threatened by every act of open civil disobedience, no matter how small. To regain that tiny piece of authority, the government either has to respond to the activist’s demands, or get the activist to back down with a public statement of regret. Otherwise, those little challenges to the moral authority of government start to add up.
Over the last couple hundred years of quelling dissent, the government has learned a few things about maintaining power. Sometimes it seems that the government has learned more from our social movement history than we as activists have. Their willingness to let a direct action off with a slap on the wrist while handing out two years for political statements comes from their understanding of the power of an individual. They know that one person, or even a small group, cannot have enough of a direct impact on our corporate giants to really alter things in our economy. They know that a single person can’t have a meaningful direct impact on our political system. But our modern government is dismantling the First Amendment because they understand the very same thing our founding fathers did when they wrote it: What one person can do is to plant the seeds of love and outrage in the hearts of a movement. And if those hearts are fertile ground, those seeds of love and outrage will grow into a revolution.
UPDATE: Tim’s previous mailing address at the Davis County Jail is no longer valid. He is currently in transit to Herlong Federal Prison in Northern California. As soon as there is a new mailing address it will be posted at Bidder70.org and Peaceful Uprising.
Have You Been To Jail for Justice? Peter Yarrow Spoke and Sang for Tim DeChristopher in Downtown Salt Lake City on Wednesday
Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary came to Salt Lake City for Tim DeChristopher’s sentencing. We thank him for his support and wisdom.
Cross posted from “I Do Not Want Mercy, I Want You To Join Me” at CommonDreams.org
Thank you for the opportunity to speak before the court. When I first met Mr. Manross, the sentencing officer who prepared the presentence report, he explained that it was essentially his job to “get to know me.” He said he had to get to know who I really was and why I did what I did in order to decide what kind of sentence was appropriate. I was struck by the fact that he was the first person in this courthouse to call me by my first name, or even really look me in the eye. I appreciate this opportunity to speak openly to you for the first time. I’m not here asking for your mercy, but I am here asking that you know me.
Mr. Huber has leveled a lot of character attacks at me, many of which are contrary to Mr. Manross’s report. While reading Mr Huber’s critiques of my character and my integrity, as well as his assumptions about my motivations, I was reminded that Mr Huber and I have never had a conversation. Over the two and half years of this prosecution, he has never asked my any of the questions that he makes assumptions about in the government’s report. Apparently, Mr. Huber has never considered it his job to get to know me, and yet he is quite willing to disregard the opinions of the one person who does see that as his job.
Read the rest of this entry »
This is what Michael Moore’s website looks like tonight:
How would you like to be the judge who has to decide whether to go after a young man with pure motives or giant conglomerates making a grab for profits at the expense of some of our last irreplaceable natural treasures?
The important story will play out right here in Salt Lake City tomorrow.
Planned events will start tomorrow at noon on 349 South Main Street and last into the night.
“The public square is the proper place for the defendants message, not criminal proceedings in federal court.” -US government
The Justice Department is putting Tim DeChristopher on trial for blocking an illegal federal oil and gas auction. This absurdity is heightened by the judge’s subsequent ruling, legally prohibiting Tim from telling the jury his reasons for doing what he did. Even though the judge is severely restricting what Tim can say, the government continues to delay the trial, denying Tim justice.
The oil industry might not want us to have this trial, but we do.
“The Climate Trial” will take place November 5th, 2010, with or without the court. This trial is not just about Tim; it’s about holding the real criminals accountable. Join us—you’ll be the jury—deciding where the responsibility lies for passing on a healthy world to our children.
Begin: high noon. Length: about 30 minutes Where: 350 S. Main St. (across from the federal courthouse. (map)
Questions? Suggestions? email: firstname.lastname@example.org. To volunteer to help with promotion or logistics, include your contact info in the message. Thanks!
Note: there will also be mobilizations and actions in Salt Lake City during the “real” trial. After 5 delays (and counting?) from the government, we are unable to post the exact date until it is imminent. If you would like to receive the most up-to-date information, you can sign up for our Climate Trial Email Updates.
On Wednesday, I attended a screening of the film Lords of Nature – a documentary discussing the effects of the reintroduction of wolves and other predators into various habitats. The film explored the reasons behind the need to reintroduce natural predators (i.e. in Yellowstone, too many elk were utterly denuding the land of trees – eating the young trees before they could grow, eating their way through the park’s forests). With the reintroduction of wolves, the park’s ecological balance has changed, which has led to a number of laudatory outcomes. Read the rest of this entry »