There are a bunch of exciting things happening in the climate disobedience world that we want to hi-lite at the start of April.
Judge Approves #NoDAPL Activist Chase Iron Eyes’ Demand For Withheld Evidence
From the Lakota People's Law Project Facebook page: "Yesterday [April 4th], the Judge in Chase Iron Eyes' case upheld earlier rulings that law enforcement and private security contractors must comply with our discovery demands."
You can watch the legal update with Daniel Sheehan, hear from Chase Iron Eyes, and find a donate link to support the work here.
Cherri Foytlin Arrested Livestreaming Blockade of Bayou Bridge Pipeline
A long term resistance camp is thriving in Louisiana in the path of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. L'eau Est La Vie Camp has been helping and instigating actions to thwart this 162 mile long crude oil pipeline. On April 5th, two teachers blockaded construction for over four hours.
In a surprise, however, police also arrested mother and organizer Cherri Foytlin, who is on the Indigenous Women's Council for the L’eau Est La Vie Camp. Cherri was livestreaming the blockade and the arrest had no obvious rationale. Organizers suspect that Cherri was deliberately targeted in an attempt to stall the work that she has been doing with L'eau Est La Vie
You can support L'eau Est La Vie Camp here: http://nobbp.org/
Judge in West Virginia Lends Support to Pipeline Construction Blockade
There are currently two high-flying actions happening in the woods of West Virginia in path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a major new fracked gas pipeline crossing from West Virginia to Virginia. Activists have been preventing the one time completion of a phase of tree-cutting along the pipeline corridor that was supposed to wrap up on March 31st when tree cutting must stop due to migratory bird nesting.
Tree sitters have been blockading tree cutting along the pipeline route near the Appalachian Trail for five weeks, and a second blockade was begun last week in the path of a construction access road. In a legal twist, the pipeline company asked Monroe County Circuit Court to issue an injunction against the tree sit and we rebuffed by judge Robert Irons who wrote in his opinion that the tree sitters “generally represent the interest of the public and the environment, such as the interest in protecting the waters underlying Peters Mountain, its flora and fauna, its view shed, the Appalachian Trail, and similar interests that will or may be destroyed."
This pipeline will be linked to the even larger Atlantic Coast Pipeline destined for North Carolina and points south. You can support the blockaders directly here: bit.ly/supportmvpresistance
Last Two Valve Turners Await Climate Necessity Trial in Minnesota
In 2016 five individuals closed emergency shut off valves on the pipelines carrying Canadian tar sands in to the US, shutting down 15% of the US daily oil supply. Three have already stood trial, and one, Michael Foster, is currently serving one year in prison in North Dakota for his shut down of the Keystone Pipeline.
Valve turners Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein are awaiting trial in Minnesota for shutting down two of Enbridge corporation's pipelines there. Their judge has OK'd the use of a necessity defense in their case, and are prepared to launch the climate trial we had hoped to have in West Roxbury, with witnesses including Dr. James Hansen and Bill McKibben.
Their trial date still hangs in limbo, as the prosecution appealed the granting of the necessity defense. The appeals court heard oral arguments on necessity in mid-February, but the judge has not yet issued a ruling. This could well be the #ClimateTrial of the century that we have been waiting for if the necessity defense is allowed to proceed. This would be the first necessity defense allowed to the valve turners, and the first in over two years since the Delta 5 trial in Washington state.
You can find out more at shutitdown.today.
Coal Train Blockader Set to Stand Trial in Spokane
Rev. George Taylor and others blockaded the tracks of the BNSF railroad that carries coal and oil west, part of the building movement in Spokane to combat the fossil-fuel-by-rail corridor that runs through the center of their city. A grassroots effort has been rising in Spokane, which resulted in the city passing new bylaws which affirmed local self-determination over their environment, and as part of that effort to halt this fossil fuel corridor, a campaign of climate disobedience was begun.
The judge in Taylor's case, supported by our partners at the Climate Defense Project, has granted the use of the necessity defense. The case was set for trial for April April 23rd. Now the state prosecutor has appealed the judge's necessity decision, and Taylor's day in court is uncertain. We at the Climate Disobedience Center are lending trial organizing support to this effort.
Judge Rules Defendants' Actions "Necessary" to Prevent Greater Harm in West Roxbury #ClimateTrial
On March 27th, 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 was the first time that defendants were acquitted by a judge based on climate necessity.
Listen to the official court audio here (includes defendant testimony and Judge Driscoll's ruling). Watch and share video statements from supporters, defendants and National Lawyers Guild attorney, Josh Raisler-Cohn via Facebook or Twitter.
The Climate Disobedience Center's Marla Marcum was a lead organizer with Resist the Pipeline in West Roxbury for the duration of this campaign. CDC's Tim DeChristopher was one of the 13 defendants, and CDC provided organizing and other support to prepare for trial. Shout out to our partners at the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild represented all 198 defendants from October 2015 through March 2018. Climate Defense Project provided invaluable support related to preparations for a necessity defense, and our friends from 198 Methods joined us during the trial to manage media coordination.