While at Netroots Nation 2011, I had the privilege of speaking to some very inspiring and courageous people, who have no qualms about speaking the truth. One of those videos, an interview with climate activist Tim DeChristopher, is now up at TheNation.com.
DeChristopher placed fake bids in a public land auction to disrupt drilling by energy companies. He has been convicted on two felony charges and now could face a number of years in prison.
In the interview, DeChristopher recounts how he disrupted a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction at the end of 2008 that the Bush Administration was holding as a “parting gift to the oil and gas industry.” DeChristopher registered as a bidder and wound up outbidding most of the companies’ bidders that were present.
He now is set to be sentenced on July 26.
“Before I was ever indicted, the Obama Administration overturned the auction and admitted it was illegal in the first place, not because of my actions but because the BLM had violated its own rules,” DeChristopher explains. He makes clear the Obama Administration has had the option all along to not pursue him but yet has chosen to push a case against him for the maximum four and a half years. And, he claims that it may not be all the popular to press charges especially since he is a nonviolent climate activist who “was standing in the way of something that was admittedly illegal.”
DeChristopher suggests the “Obama Administration is no different than any of the ones before it in its pursuit of activists.” He find they are “trying to instill in citizens the idea that we don’t have the right to stand up to our government when it is acting illegally.”
Quite compelling is how DeChristopher frames the threat he poses. By operating on a higher level of justice and morality, he and other activists who might take actions like him are clear threats. The government has to vilify activists standing them to reclaim authority or talk the activists into a plea bargain where they admit they essentially made to commit they were wrong to challenge the government.
Author and columnist Chris Hedges offers great insight into the government’s decision to go after DeChristopher in his weekly column published today:
His prosecution is evidence that our moral order has been turned upside down. The bankers and swindlers who trashed the global economy and wiped out some $40 trillion in wealth amass obscene amounts of money, much of it provided by taxpayers. They do not go to jail. Regulatory agencies, compliant to the demands of corporations, refuse to impede the destruction unleashed by the coal, oil and natural gas companies as they turn the planet into a hothouse of pollutants, poisoned water, fouled air and contaminated soil in the frenzied quest for greater and greater profits. Those who manage and make fortunes from pre-emptive wars, embrace torture, carry out extrajudicial assassinations, deny habeas corpus and run up the largest deficits in human history are feted as patriots. But when a courageous citizen such as DeChristopher peacefully derails the corporate and governmental destruction of the ecosystem, he is sent to jail.
DeChristopher concludes, “The movement has been trying to work within the system for a long time and it hasn’t worked. And there are several reasons.” One of the main issues is that “those who write the rules are those who profit from the status quo.”
Throughout the government’s prosecution of DeChristopher, he hasn’t abandoned his dedication to climate activism. When you listen to him, it’s quite clear if any people are going to save this country from bringing the planet to complete and utter ruin, it will be leaders and courageous organizers like DeChristopher.