Would you risk up to 10 years of jail time to take action around climate change? If you’re climate activist Tim DeChristopher, the answer is yes.
Tim DeChristopher was sentenced today to 2 years in prison and fined $10,000, after facing up to 10 years in federal prison and a $750,000 fine for being found guilty on March 3rd of one count of violating the Federal Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act and one count of False Statement.
Tim (aka bidder #70) disrupted a controversial auction of Utah public lands and won $2.7 million in oil & gas leases despite not having the funds to pay for them right away in a creative nonviolent act to protect land from destructive oil and gas extraction.
Following the sentencing today, according to Peaceful Uprising’s website, Tim was taken immediately into custody, being denied the typical 3 weeks afforded to put his affairs in order and say goodbye to his friends and family.
“I’m not saying there isn’t a place for civil disobedience,” U.S. District Judge Dee Benson said, “but it can’t be the order of the day.”
Here’s more on this controversial auction and subsequent conviction from Peaceful Uprising:
DeChristopher was convicted of two felonies in March of 2011 after registering as a “good faith” bidder and outbidding oil and gas energy giants without intention or means to pay for the parcels he won. The auction was later overturned by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who ruled that the majority of parcels 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.
SUPPORTERS TURNED OUT IN THE STREETS
On sentencing day today, almost 3 years since the auction that landed DeChristopher in jail took place, people attended solidarity actions throughout the country to show their support for Tim DeChristopher.
In Salt Lake City where the sentencing took place, protestors shut down traffic in an act of non-violent protest.
I went to the rally in San Francisco, along with folks from Rainforest Action Network, Peaceful Uprising and Justice in Nigeria NOW.
San Francisco Supervisor (and mayoral candidate) John Avalos was also there and delivered a speech that began with “it’s an honor to be here on behalf of bidder #70 Tim DeChristopher” and included “I’m glad to be standing here in support of Tim.” (The microphone was powered by that bike pictured in the photo background.)
Visit Peaceful Uprising’s website for action alerts, information & more!
Follow on Twitter: A great way to find out Tim DeChristopher news and solidarity actions is to follow the hashtag #Bidder70 on Twitter.
Watch Tim DeChristopher’s sobering keynote speech (below) from Powershift 2011:
What actions are you willing to take to fight for justice and a liveable future? You already know Tim’s answer.