Tim DeChristopher is the Utah activist who is going on trial today for derailing the illegal sale of public land to private oil and gas developers during the dying days of the Bush administration. Tim is facing ten years in prison on two felony charges, if convicted.
In a recent interview with Yes! Magazine, DeChristopher had this to say about the ongoing political upheaval in the Middle East and its relation to the climate movement:
Throughout the few weeks of the uprising in Egypt, there was never really any doubt that the protesters would eventually take out Mubarak. It was totally clear: They knew they had this level of power and were committed to exercising it. What we’re missing is that commitment to exercising the citizen power that we already have. In Egypt, once they made the decision that they were going to be a powerful force, there was no stopping them.
…We think we have no power when in fact we have more than enough power. Right now, we have a big enough movement to win this battle; we just need to start acting like it. That’s the message that the climate movement really needs to internalize. On an individual level, it means making the commitment that we’re going to be powerful and effective agents of change; on the movement level, it’s about making the decision that we’re really going to win this battle.
The following is an excerpt from a letter co-written by five leaders of social and environmental justice – Dr. James Hansen, Robert Redford, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibbon, and Terry Tempest Williams. All recognize the trial of Tim DeChristopher to be a turning point in the climate movement:
…Why is this trial so important to the fight against catastrophic climate change, even in light of recent ecological disasters like flooding in Pakistan and the BP oil spill? As we all know, this fight takes many forms: huge global days of action, giant international conferences like the one that failed in Copenhagen, small gestures in the homes of countless people.
But there are a few signal moments, and one will come February 28th, when the federal government puts Tim DeChristopher on trial in Salt Lake City. Tim—“Bidder 70”—pulled off one of the most creative protests against our runaway energy policy in years: he bid for the oil and gas leases on several parcels of federal land even though he had no money to pay for them, thus upending the auction. The government calls that “violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act” and thinks he should spend ten years in jail for the crime; we call it a noble act, a profound gesture made on behalf of all of us and of the future. Click here to read more