[Ed. note: The following is an on-the-scene report from Peaceful Uprising member and Tim DeChristopher supporter Joshua Kahn Russell.]
Yesterday, Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in prison and taken away from the courthouse without goodbyes or the option to self-report.
In court, DeChristopher said, “You can put me in prison, but it will not deter my future of civil disobedience and it won’t deter others who are willing to fight to defend a livable future.”
Outside the courthouse, hundreds of supporters gathered from Salt Lake City and across the country, singing, chanting, and speaking out as they bore witness to the sentencing. Immediately after the bang of the gavel Ashely Anderson and Ashley Sanders were hauled out of the courtroom for loudly rallying people inside saying, “This court has proven itself incapable of justice, so the people will take it back — it is now our court,” foreshadowing the civil disobedience to come outside. As Henia Belalia left the courthouse, she made an official statement: “If there was ever a day in history to take action, this is it.”
Peaceful Uprising activists followed her lead, initiating a sit-in to blockade the two front entrances of the federal courthouse and emphasize that they had no hesitation in joining DeChristopher in jail, giving meaning to the slogan, “We are all Bidder 70.” Members of the community joined the blockade to show their love and outrage, and by the time police had finished, 26 people were arrested.
A mother who joined the blockade with her three children said to them through tears, “I need you to see this, it’s for your future,” as she was taken away. Sit-in participants moved to blockade a major intersection in front of the courthouse during rush hour. As supporters continued to sing and support those being arrested, DeChristopher was quickly rushed out a side door in chains and loaded into a police van.
Yesterday, a true crime was committed in every federal courthouse in the United States: Why is DeChristopher now in prison for protecting our future, while corporate CEOs walk free with millions of dollars for destroying it? We recognized today that our justice system has failed us. It, like our economy and other branches of government, is controlled by the fossil-fuel industry, and today we affirm that we stand with the millions actively taking it back. Please see our official response to the sentencing for action opportunities and links to all of the remarkable actions that are being taken around the country.
Act! The movement is with you.