Tim DeChristopher found guilty, shows power of nonviolent civil disobedience

Grist Magazine

March 4, 2011

Climate activist Tim DeChristopher, who was put on trial in Salt Lake City, Utah, this week for his interference with an oil and gas auction held at the end of the Bush administration, on Thursday was found guilty by a jury. He faces a sentence of up to 10 years, to be determined by a judge.

After finding out the jury's decision, DeChristopher spoke to supporters outside of the courthouse. "We now know I'll have to go to prison. That's the job I have to do," he said.

In a recent interview with Grist, DeChristopher talked about the power of nonviolent civil disobedience and the role it can play in fighting climate change. He compares the need for action in the climate movement to the action taken by the Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights Movement.

Watch the interview here:

DeChristopher hopes his sentencing and the act of "going to jail for justice" will give people perspective on our dire climate situation. In our interview, he said:

Climate change is a war against people and especially young people. People's lives are being traded for the profit of others. That's a war. And yet it doesn't look that way, it doesn't feel that way to most people. It just looks like businessmen making a profit. It looks like congressmen not doing their jobs very well. So when we make ourselves vulnerable and invite that reaction against ourselves, whether it's a physical reaction or a reaction of the legal system, it starts to reframe that perspective for people.
Climate hawks and environmentalists are voicing their support for DeChristopher and calling him an example for the rest of us. Henia Belalia of Peaceful Uprising, a group cofounded by DeChristopher, responded to the verdict with this text message: "Heartbreaking, outrageous and yet not surprising with a limited defense. Justice did not prevail today -- our response: resolve and a massive call to action."

Watch his statement after the verdict:

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