Wondering what's all the fuss about Tim DeChristopher and his trial on Monday? Uber-activist Jamie Pleune, who walked 350 miles across Utah last year with her husband Ryan, explains the basics in a Salt Lake City Tribune op-ed:
Perhaps it is the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, or the mass demonstrations in Wisconsin, or the upcoming trial of Tim DeChristopher, but lately I have been thinking about the role of civil disobedience in a free society.
Dissent is a part of democracy and civil disobedience can be a courageous act of dissent. A person practicing civil disobedience puts his liberty on the line in order to continue living with a free conscience. Thanks to such courageous acts, slavery is illegal, women have the right to vote, black and white customers share the same lunch counter and children no longer work in mines or sweatshops.
On Monday, Tim DeChristopher will face trial for objecting to the government’s prioritization of fossil fuel interests over the public’s interest in a livable future in the face of climate change. On Dec. 19, 2008, as the Bush administration headed out of office, it offered oil and gas companies the opportunity to purchase leases to drill in scenic and biologically sensitive areas.
Some of the parcels bordered Arches National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, the Needles Overlook and Hatch Point, while others were on sage-grouse habitat or on wilderness-quality land.
Tim intended to join a group of protesters lawfully picketing the auction outside the U.S. Bureau of Land Management office. On arrival, it took only a few minutes for him to recognize the familiar dynamic plaguing our nation’s relationship to fossil fuels: The people were outside, while the oil and gas companies were inside.
An economics student at the University of Utah, Tim had recently taken a final exam that asked whether the sale price of the oil and gas leases at the BLM auction would accurately reflect fair market value if the only bidders in the room worked for oil and gas interests.
Tim decided to go inside.