Tim DeChristopher: A Peaceful Warrior
Last week, a federal jury in Salt Lake City has convicted environmental activist Tim DeChristopher of two felony counts for disrupting the auction of over 100,000 acres of federal land for oil and gas drilling. DeChristopher was charged in December 2008 with infiltrating a public auction and disrupting the Bush administration’s last-minute move to auction off oil and gas exploration rights on vast swaths of federal land. A student at the time, DeChristopher posed as a bidder and bought 22,000 acres of land with no intention to pay in an attempt to save the property from drilling. He faces up to ten years in prison.
DeChristopher had raised the funds to pay for the parcels that he bid on, but in 2009 Ken Salazar became Secretary of the Department of the Interior. Salazar nullified the sale of the lands Tim bid on, criticizing the process as “a headlong rush.”. Still, the Obama Administration chose to prosecute DeChristopher, the one who shined the spotlight on this corrupt process.
The jury at Tim’s trial wasn’t allowed to consider his motive, or that he had raised the funds to pay for the lands he purchased or that the sale of the parcels had been nullified by the Department of the Interior. Therefore, the verdict was a foregone conclusion. Sentencing will take place on June 23, 2011.
TIM DeCHRISTOPHER: Everything that went on inside that building tried to convince me that I was alone and I was weak. They tried to convince me that I was like a little finger out there on my own that can easily be broken. And all of you out here were the reminder for all of us that I wasn’t just a finger all alone in there, but that I was connected to a hand with many fingers that could unite as one fist and that that fist could not be broken by the power that they have in there.
That fist is not a symbol of violence. That fist is a symbol that we will not be misled into thinking we are alone. We will not be lied to and told we are weak. We will not be divided, and we will not back down. That fist is a symbol that we are connected and that we are powerful. It’s a symbol that we hold true to our vision of a healthy and just world, and we are building the self-empowering movement to make it happen. All those authorities in there wanted me to think like a finger. But our children are calling to us to think like a fist.
And we know that now I’ll have to go to prison. We know that now that’s the reality. But that’s just a job that I have to do. That’s the role that I face. And many before me have gone to jail for justice. And if we’re going to achieve our vision, many after me will have to join me, as well.
“Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” – Edward Abbey
- Environmentalist Tim DeChristopher Found Guilty of Sabotaging Oil and Gas Auction; Faces Up To 10 Years in Jail (democracynow.org)
- Robert Redford: Bidder 70 (huffingtonpost.com)
- Bill McKibben: Tim DeChristopher: Taking a Leap and Pointing the Way (huffingtonpost.com)