The Climate Disobedience Center exists to support a growing community of climate dissidents who take the risk of acting commensurate with the scale and urgency of the crisis.
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Judge Mary Ann Driscoll "Based on what the Commonwealth has said, and based on the very heartfelt expressions of the defendants who believe – and I don't question their beliefs in any respect – who believe in their cause and who [indecipherable] because they believe they were entitled to invoke the [or their?] necessity defense, I'll accept what they said and find the defendants, I'll find them all not responsible." (transcribed from 28:33-29:03 in the audio file)
...... a follow up question to make sure the record of the ruling is clear....
Q: Attorney Andrew Fischer representing the defendants: "Could I ask that the Court's finding of not responsible be stated on the record that it's in light of the necessity defense?"
A: Judge Mary Ann Driscoll: "Yes, that can appear on the record..." Judge Driscoll continues by saying that the attorneys can get an official copy for "whatever you wish to make of it." (transcribed from 29:57-30:31 in the audio file)
We are grateful to Judge Driscoll for her willingness to consider the relevant facts in this case, including the evidence that attempts to block construction were necessary to prevent a greater harm.
The most extraordinary part of this audio recording is the brief testimonies of 12 of the defendants, beginning at 3:45 in the audio file.
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Big and exciting news! Earlier today (March 27) 13 defendants went into Boston’s West Roxbury District courthouse to answer charges related to their arrests as part of a sustained campaign to block construction on the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline that included 198 arrests from October 2015 through September 2016. Although the prosecutor moved to reduce the charges from misdemeanor criminal offenses to civil infractions — the equivalent of a parking ticket, Judge Mary Ann Driscoll allowed each defendant testify briefly on the necessity of their actions.
The defendants collectively presented a powerful and comprehensive argument for why it was necessary to engage in civil disobedience to stop the imminent local and global harms of this fracked gas pipeline. Following their testimony, the judge ruled that the defendants’ actions were necessary in order prevent a greater harm.
While defendants were still denied a jury trial and the possibility of a full necessity defense, this is the first time that defendants were acquitted by a U.S. judge based on climate necessity. Since then the defendants have had a celebratory lunch together, and met to talk about next steps and future struggles.
We’ll have audio from the courtroom as soon as it’s available (in a few days), but in the meantime Climate Disobedience Center would love your help sharing this news:
Join us tomorrow at 7pm at the JP Forum in Boston, or watch the live stream online! Invite your friends and family to join us and learn more.
Share this Facebook live video of all the defendants and their legal team on the steps of the courthouse just after the verdict.
- Or Share this Twitter video about the same.
If you're looking for more background info, you can explore the defendants and the campaign below on our West Roxbury page. Read the press release from before the verdict on the next page and find Media coverage of the verdict here.
Want even more info to share with your social networks? Try our partner pack for allied organizations and individuals who want to spread the word!
- Join us tomorrow at 7pm at the JP Forum in Boston, or watch the live stream online! Invite your friends and family to join us and learn more.
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Yesterday, the prosecutor informed our legal team that the charges against the 13 remaining West Roxbury Resisters will be reduced to civil infractions — basically the equivalent of a parking ticket.
These defendants have been denied a jury trial, although the judge had signaled an inclination to allow a necessity defense — an argument that actions blocking construction on the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline were justified in order to avoid the greater harms of climate change and threats to public safety posed by this pipeline. In fact, the charges were probably reduced in order to avoid the trial for which the defendants, their legal team, nine expert witnesses, and many supporters had prepared.
The attempt to take these cases to trial was a long shot. We knew that the District Attorney was unlikely to let us have our day in court. Remember, nearly 200 other people were also arrested during the Resist the Pipeline campaign in West Roxbury, and none of them stood trial. But we took a gamble based on the idea that by offering a necessity defense, we could turn the tables on a system that rubber stamps pipelines and drilling applications while it criminalizes protest and dissent. Not so, this round.
While we are disappointed, we are not disheartened. As climate activists in 2018, we know that long shots and moral imagination are some of the most promising tools for culture-shifting transformation.
If you’re in the Boston area or were planning to join us for the trial, we invite you to meet us at the West Roxbury District courthouse on Tuesday morning. The defendants will be there, as required, and they may have a chance to make brief statements before the court. For those who RSVP, we will send information about travel to the courthouse and other logistics.
We also invite you to join us Wednesday Night for the Jamaica Plain Forum. You can meet up with our team in Boston, or tune in online from wherever you are. We'll celebrate this campaign of climate disobedience, hear some of what the defendants had hoped to present in court, and share our thoughts on action and legal strategies in this moment.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts may be unwilling to hear the evidence about climate change and community risk, but we will not be silent. I hope you’ll join us.
We may not get the #ClimateTrial we wanted — or the one our communities and planet need — in Boston next week. But the fight will continue in this community and in many more.
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In the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, Spectra Energy was building a fracked-gas pipeline off of their existing AIM pipeline. Beginning October 7, 2015, Resist The Pipeline began a campaign of climate disobedience, getting in the way of active pipeline construction. Climate Disobedience Center founder Marla Marcum provided training, logistical and jail support for Resist the Pipeline.
The campaign grew, and eventually 198 people were arrested over the course of a year. The tactics escalated as well, beginning with just a few individuals in front of equipment and ending with large days of mass occupation, and other more disruptive actions.
13 activists from the campaign, including 6 who participated in the June 29 "Mass Graves" action pictured above are taking their defense to trial. Their cases are currently scheduled for trial March 27th. The activists are committed to mounting a climate necessity defense, arguing that they had no reasonable alternative to putting themselves in the path of the pipeline's construction. If the jury is allowed to decide whether the defendants' actions were necessary in order to prevent a greater harm, we'll have a legal precedent that communities across the country can use in their own resistance to pipelines and other infrastructure
Sign on here to support the West Roxbury Defendants, and we'll send you updates about their trial, and more opportunities to learn about their fight and landmark date with justice.
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For the last two years, I have worked to lead a sustained resistance campaign to a fracked gas pipeline in West Roxbury, Massachusetts through more than a dozen civil disobedience actions and an extended legal process. Now those activists are finally going to trial on March 27th.
The judge has been supportive of the activists intent to use the necessity defense, so we are confident we will be able to make a full argument about why civil disobedience is necessary to avert the catastrophic harms of continued fossil fuel expansion. This case is a near-perfect opportunity for the strategy the Climate Disobedience Center has been pursuing for years. Every elected official representing West Roxbury opposed this pipeline, and the city of Boston even sued to try to stop it, so our argument that civil disobedience is necessary when our government is so rigged in favor of exploitative corporations is more compelling than any other #ClimateTrial necessity case yet.
Also, with fifteen activists from five different days of protests combined in one trial, we have the unique opportunity to argue the effectiveness of a campaign of sustained resistance. Civil disobedience doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but prosecutors sometimes try to act that way in order to make it seem like we couldn’t reasonably expect our actions to make a difference. In this trial, for the first time, we get to make the case for why a growing, escalating campaign can be so powerful at standing up to the most powerful industry in the world.
To make the most of this opportunity, we need the resources to bring in expert witnesses, pay court expenses, and dedicate our own staff time to this effort. We need to raise $5000 to make this happen. Please donate today, and join us in Boston on March 27th-30th for this groundbreaking case.
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The title of Gandhi's autobiography is "The Story of My Experiments with Truth." While the book is more focused on his own personal habits and spiritual disciplines rather than his political and strategic thoughts on satyagraha, the idea is one that motivated a group to gather in Virginia and North Carolina over the last three weeks.
Three of us from the Climate Disobedience Center joined around two dozen activists from across the US to see if we might experiment with a new expression of the truth in the climate fight. At the invitation of local activists, we visited with communities fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and listened to those who were on the frontlines of this fight talk about this massive new project to export fracked gas from West Virginia. And at their invitation on Friday February 2nd, we occupied the North Carolina Governor's office.
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Our own Jay O'Hara is in Maine and supporting these clergy working to halt the immoral tax bill with training, coaching and social media.
Maine Clergy Risk Arrest in Civil Disobedience Action Against Immoral Tax Bill to Remind Senator Collins of Biblical Responsibility to Protect the Poor and Vulnerable
Portland, ME -- On Thursday, December 7th at 11 a.m., faith leaders will lead a nonviolent, faith-based civil disobedience action, calling on Senator Susan Collins to reject the tax bill that gives massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and powerful corporations, funded by raising taxes on middle class families and slashing funding for Medicare, Medicaid and education.
"Unitarian Universalism affirms the worth and dignity of each person, and our social and religious prophets spur us to work for justice, equality, and compassion so that we can live in community with others. My faith calls me to oppose this legislation because of the great harm it could cause in our communities. Cutting funding to those most vulnerable and using the gains as relief for those who need none flies in the face of our values, as people called to care for one another. In this moment, our faith calls us to speak out for those who will be most hurt by this bill, and we likewise call on Senator Collins to speak out for Maine's people by opposing this legislation." Molly Brewer, ministerial intern of the First Universalist Church of Auburn while working toward a Master of Divinity degree at Meadville Lombard Theological School.
"Our faith calls us to take care of our neighbors. Our faith calls us to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God. We call on Senator Collins to do the right thing for her constituents and to listen to God’s call at this pivotal moment by opposing this unjust, immoral, and harmful piece of legislation. The fact is, this tax plan hurts low-income Mainers and seniors, and it gives massive tax cuts to the very wealthiest Americans and powerful corporations. This is an issue of fairness and misplaced priorities, especially because the tax breaks will be funded by raising taxes on middle class families and slashing funding for Medicare, Medicaid, and education." – Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill pastor at Hope Gateway.
What: Multi-denominational faith leaders will participate in a civil disobedience action against the tax bill and call on Sen. Collins to remember the moral commitments of her faith traditions by publicly praying and reading Bible verses highlighting the commands to protect poor and vulnerable people.
When: Thursday, December 7th, 11 a.m.
Where: Sen. Susan Collins’ Portland Office, Canal Plaza # 802, Portland, ME 04101
Who: Confirmed Faith leaders include:
Visuals: Faith leaders wearing clerical attire reading the Bible and praying publicly. Civil disobedience action planned with potential arrest of several faith leaders. Faith leaders will be accompanied by many supporters with signage.
For footage and photos please follow https://www.facebook.com/moralmaine
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The Climate Disobedience Center truly NEEDS your support to sustain our unique and revolutionary work. From using civil disobedience trials as movement building opportunities to cultivating small groups that holistically fortify activists, the Climate Disobedience Center continues to strive for adaptable, effective and principled ways of defending a livable future.
Let’s be honest. The Climate Disobedience Center probably won’t start getting big grants from major foundations and billionaires any time soon. The mainstream movement landscape is dependent on measurables, deliverables, and professing certainty about how approaches will play out in unprecedented crisis situations.
We don’t pretend to have that certainty. But we strongly believe that the power of chosen vulnerability - a willingness to take disruptive action and to bear the consequences - has the potential to arouse the empathy of others in a way that expands what is possible. This is a culture-shifting strategy that aims to transform landscape of possibility within which politics and policy emerge. That’s why the Climate Disobedience Center works to help people develop the courage and community of support to that make it possible to step into their power of vulnerability.
Our total annual budget is only about $150,000. Your gift to the Climate Disobedience Center supports trials and activists across the country and resources communities of resistance. We raise that money from people like you who value the critical grassroots work we do. Please donate today.
Thank you for your support, and for being a part of this movement.Tim DeChristopher
for all of us at the Climate Disobedience Center
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On October 23rd, 2017, 84 members of congress submitted a letter to Attorney General Sessions regarding nonviolent direct action on crude oil pipelines. The letter, backed by American Petroleum Institute, Association of Oil Pipe Lines, and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, is a dishonest effort to smear the climate movement, and fabricate a threat in order to legitimate further criminalization of dissent against one of Congress’s largest clients: the fossil fuel industry. Rather than doing their job and protecting current and future generations from civilizational collapse caused by run-away climate change, members of Congress are working to protect their funders at the risk their constituents.
The letter begins the official process of expanding the Patriot Act and domestic terrorism laws to target those who resist fossil fuel infrastructure. The accusation of terrorism hinges on violence to human beings, which has never been even a fringe element of the climate movement. The only violent reference which this Congressional letter could find was Tucker Carlson’s creative interpretation of a letter to the editor of a local newspaper in Boulder, Colorado. On that single thread hangs this attempt to defame a mass movement in order to repress dissent and free speech.