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Earth Day Exclusive: Tim DeChristopher Speaks Out After 21 Months in Prison for Disrupting Oil Bid | Democracy Now!

In a Democracy Now! exclusive on Earth Day, climate change activist Tim DeChristopher joins us for his first interview since being released from federal custody after serving 21 months in detention. DeChristopher was convicted of interfering with a 2008 public auction when he disrupted the Bush administration’s last-minute move to sell off oil and gas exploitation rights in Utah. He posed as a bidder and won drilling lease rights to 22,000 acres of land in an attempt to save the property from oil and gas extraction. The auction itself was later overturned and declared illegal, a fact that DeChristopher’s defense attorneys were prevented from telling the jury. His case is the subject of the documentary, “Bidder 70,” which will screen all over the country today to mark his release and Earth Day. The founder of the climate justice group Peaceful Uprising, Tim DeChristopher joins us to discuss his ordeal, his newfound freedom, and his plans to continue his activism in the climate justice movement.

During the voir dire, the US Attorney’s Office was nearly apoplectic when it was suggested to potential jurors that they should use their conscience. After telling jurors that it was not their job to think about what is right or wrong, Judge Benson blocked evidence of government wrongdoing on the grounds that it would “confuse the jury.” That kind of contempt and fear of citizen participation in government is the hallmark of tyranny and the pathway to oppression. To continue debating technicalities through further appeals would only serve as a distraction from the critical discussion of how citizens should hold their government accountable. If there is any hope of this country ever getting a justice system worthy of the name, that hope lies in fully informed juries of ordinary citizens, not in judges protecting the interests of the powerful. Throughout my incarceration I have witnessed the direct personal impacts of a legal system obsessed with technicalities rather than justice. The prisons I have been in are filled with nonviolent inmates suffering from mandatory minimums and other policies which are completely detached from the best interests of the individual or society. The injustice on display in my case is truly systemic, and we will put our continuing efforts toward creating a system of genuine justice for all.

Tim DeChristopher

Climate Campaigner Tim DeChristopher Released From Prison | Common Dreams

DeChristopher had been jailed for the past 18 months for disrupting a leasing auction for federal oil and gas exploration.

Climate Activist Tim DeChristopher Out of ‘Isolated Confinement’ | Jeff Goodell

Good news, everyone:

I wrote yesterday that the jailed climate activist Tim DeChristopher, who’s serving a two-year sentence in the Herlong prison in California, had recently been moved to “isolated confinement” at the behest of an unidentified congressman.  Soon after the post went live, Herlong, the Bureau of Prisons in Washington D.C. and members of Congress were flooded with thousands of calls protesting DeChristopher’s treatment.  As a result, last night he was moved out of isolated confinement and back to the minimum security camp where he’s serving out his (outrageously disproportionate) sentence.  “I got a call from him this morning,” says Dylan Schneider at Peaceful Uprising, the climate group co-founded by DeChristopher.  “He was extremely happy.”  DeChristopher’s lawyer, Patrick Shea, credits Rolling Stone with drawing attention to the story and helping to build public pressure for his release. “Rolling Stone got him out,” he told me.  Schneider cautions that this is not the end of the story, though: “There needs to be an investigation into how a call from a congressman got Tim thrown in isolation and what that says about the American justice system,” he said this morning. ” What would have happened to Tim if no one was watching?

Let’s keep watching.

Unnamed Congressman Has Tim DeChristopher Moved into Solitary Confinement | The Dissenter

This is truly shameful:

Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher, who was given a two-year sentence in prison for making fake bids in a Utah public land auction that was later found to be corrupt, has reportedly been moved to solitary confinement after a member of Congress contacted the Bureau of Prisons.

Peaceful Uprising, a climate change activism group which DeChristopher co-founded, states in a press release posted on March 27:

On the evening of Friday March 9th, Tim DeChristopher was summarily removed from the minimum security camp where he has been held since September 2011, and moved into the FCI Herlong’s Special Housing Unit (SHU). Tim was informed by  Lieutenant Weirich that he was being moved to the SHU because an unidentified congressman had called from Washington DC, complaining of an email that Tim had sent to a friend. Tim was inquiring about the reported business practices of one of his legal fund contributors, threatening to return the money if their values no longer aligned with his own.  According to Prison officials, Tim will continue to be held in isolated confinement pending an investigation.There is no definite timeline for inmates being held in the SHU — often times they await months for the conclusion of an investigation.

In the SHU, Tim’s movement and communications are severely restricted. In the past two weeks, he has been allowed out of his 8 X 10 cell (which he shares with one other inmate) four times, each time for less than an hour. The SHU could have been designed by Franz Kafka. Tim is allowed one book in his cell, and four in his property locker.  His writing means are restricted to a thin ink cartridge which makes correspondence extremely difficult.  He can still receive mail from the outside, but has no other form of communication other than 15 minutes of phone calls per month. [emphasis not added]

First off, this congress person who ordered DeChristopher into solitary confinement is a coward and should be unmasked. DeChristopher is powerless in prison. He is already being punished.

If the description is correct, it seems like a congressman is trying to intimidate DeChristopher for wanting to return money. To amplify the punishment because of an email is cruel. That the punishment is to place DeChristopher into solitary confinement is even more inhumane. In fact, it is what a fascist country would do to a political prisoner.

[…]

The identity of the member of Congress who is doing this to DeChristopher is still unknown. Peaceful Uprising hopes “investigative journalism and public pressure” will lead to the member’s identity becoming known.

And, the Associated Press provides additional confirmation that DeChristopher was moved to solitary. They spoke to DeChristopher’s lawyer Pat Shea, who told AP “prison officials in California, where DeChristopher is held, told the jailed activist that a congressman complained about an email he sent to some of his supporters.” Because of the complaint, he is now being held in isolation.

Read the rest here.

More on the story from Common Dreams.

If the government is going to refuse to step up to that responsibility to defend a livable future, I believe that creates a moral imperative for me and other citizens. My future, and the future of everyone I care about, is being traded for short term profits. I take that very personally. Until our leaders take seriously their responsibility to pass on a healthy and just world to the next generation, I will continue this fight. Tim DeChristopher, This is What Hope Looks Like - Activist Tim DeChristopher, whose act of civil disobedience stopped the auction of oil and gas leases on thousands of acres of public land, was sentenced to two years in federal prison this week. This was part of his lengthy statement to the court. (via insaniyat)

(via pieceinthepuzzlehumanity-deacti)

Time to be honest | Red Pepper

In a hyper-individualised society, it is no surprise that climate action has been focused up to now on personal responsibility to limit consumption. We receive typically about three thousand adverts every day to consume, so green consumption bolsters that. The mentality is that the problem is one of individual and consumer habits, and that the answer to the climate crisis is lifestyle changes. This reinforces the idea that our primary identity is as a consumer, and reinforces a system that is the main problem. How can we recover and assert a system based on us as human beings rather than consumers?