Letter to Oregon Environmental & Climate Action Leaders

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you – some old friends, some new, and some I have yet to meet – out of the blue, but these are increasingly desperate times and the easy graces of protocol must be weighed against the seriousness of the climate crisis and lateness of the hour. I keep receiving upbeat notices about two bills, the “Healthy Climate Bill” (SB1574/HB4068) and “Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan” (HB 4036), described as Oregon environmentalists’ and climate activists’ state legislative agenda, which strike me as utterly inadequate in the circumstances.

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Press Release: Jury in Delta 5 Climate Case Splits Decision, Shares Sympathy With Protesters

The Delta5 and Climate Disobedience Center Team

For Immediate Release: Jury in Delta 5 Climate Case Splits Decision, Shares Sympathy With Protesters
Contact Ahmed Gaya 773-960-2587, [email protected]
January 15, 2016

Lynnwood, WA - The historic case of the 'Delta 5' train blockaders has ended with a conviction on one of the two charges. After four days of testimony from the defendants and their expert witness a Jury found the defendants not guilty of impeding the movement of a train, but guilty of trespass in the second degree.

Immediately following the verdict three of the jurors gathered in the halls of the courthouse to talk with the defendants, their legal team, and supporters. In a heartfelt conversation the jurors expressed their support for the defendants, told their lawyers they would have acquitted on all charges were necessity instructions given, agreed to work with the Climate Disobedience Center to improve further cases and signed up to attend a lobbying day on oil-trains with defendant Abby Brockway.

"The fact that the full testimony on climate and oil trains was allowed, and the jury acquitted us of blocking an oil train makes this a historic trial. Two of the jurors said they are ready to join us lobbying at the state house, I'd call that a success," said defendant Abby Brockway.

Despite the compelling testimony, the judge instructed the jury to limit their deliberations only to the question of finding whether there were violations of trespass and train laws.

"This judge refused to introduce our defense because of lack of precedent. It set me to thinking of all the bold judges who broke with precedent and advanced the cause of justice in the process, The necessity defense is something that needs a new precedent.” said Jackie Minchew of the Delta 5.

Jurors told the defendants and their lawyers that they were moved by the testimony on the climate crisis and oil train threats and that they would find ways to take action on both issues. “Welcome to the movement,” defendant Mike Lapointe told jurors as he and Brockway embraced them.

Four of the five defendants were sentenced to $550 in fines and fees and a two year probation. Mike Lapointe had his fines suspended due to his financial circumstances. The terms of their probation are that they have no further criminal violations and have no contact with BNSF property.

In 2014, Motivated by the alarming science of climate change, and by concern for the safety of those living in Washington's fossil fuel corridors, the five local activists had blockaded a train used to transport explosive Bakkan crude oil in Everett on September 2, 2014.

"The Delta 5 knew that they had to step outside of business as usual to take climate action commensurate with the crisis. The fact that Judge Howard stayed within his strict legalism and declined to take a risk of conscience reinforces how important it is for citizens to take bold moral actions. It is clear from the comments of the jurors that this was a transformational moment," said climate activist Tim DeChristopher. DeChristopher, a founder of the Climate Disobedience Center, had his own trial and conviction after disrupting a federal oil and gas auction in Utah in 2008.

Defendants are now available for comment to the media.
Contact Ahmed Gaya, 773-960-2587, [email protected]

Video of the defendants and jurors talking available here .

More videos of jurors and defendants and courtroom footage being uploaded, contact Ahmed Gaya


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VERDICT: Delta 5 defendants found not guilty obstruction, guilty of trespass. Receive no jail time.

UPDATED: Read trial verdict press release here.

JURORS celebrate the Delta 5 in an unprecedented climate trial! 

THE VERDICT:  The defendants were found not guilty on obstruction of train charges, guilty of trespass. The judge issued 90 days suspended (no jail time) and minor fines for each defendant, except LaPointe, who gets no fine.  

This verdict is via Tim DeChristopher's live tweeting from court.


For background on the case see Delta 5 posts on this site and the Delta 5 trial site. For media inquiries please contact Mara Marcum.

Jurors celebrate Delta 5

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Blessing of Delta 5 Trial, Abby Brockway's Sermon

Cross posted on the Delta5Trial.org blog.

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Delta 5 Media Hits

As the trial of Abby Brockway, Mike Lapointe, Patrick Mazza, Jackie Minchew, and Liz Spoerri unfolds over the next week we'll be posting media updates here.

guardian.jpgThe Guardian - A crime justified by climate change? Activists caught in legal showdown.

Click below for a full list of media hits.

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Climate Justice Sunday with the #Delta5

This morning, the Woodland Park Presbyterian Church in Seattle observed Climate Justice Sunday, celebrating the Delta 5 oil train blockaders offering them a blessing on the final day before their historic trial begins in Lynnwood, Washington. This extraordinary congregation welcomed television cameras, radio reporters, and a documentary crew along with over 60 guests from other faith communities and people of no particular faith to gather and explore our shared commitments to climate justice and to supporting those who take bold action.


I was honored to join the worship team, serving as a liturgist and offering a brief reflection on what this moment in the Christian liturgical year has to teach us about power, civil disobedience, and climate justice.

The text of my reflection is pasted below. You can listen to it here (look for Jan 10 Moment for Mission – Marla Marcum...).

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Press Release: Historic Climate Trial Starts Monday In Lynnwood, WA

For Immediate Release: Historic Climate Trial Starts Monday In Lynnwood
Contact: Ahmed Gaya, [email protected], 773-960-2587,
Friday, January 8th, 2016

Lynnwood, WA - Five community members who blocked the path of an explosive oil train in Everett last year will finally go to trial in Snohomish County on Monday. In a surprise ruling Judge Anthony E. Howard has allowed the defendants to argue that their actions were justified by the threat of climate change. This is the first time a U.S. court has heard a ‘necessity defense’ in a case relating to climate action.

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Oil Train Blockaders #ClimateTrial Video

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Building Long Term Resistance in West Roxbury


Long term, sustaining, mass mobilization direct action campaigns are stopping fossil fuel infrastructure projects. This isn't how I imagined this could work, but it's proving to be a powerful new arrow in the climate movement quiver. Our own Marla Marcum's experience in West Roxbury, Massachusetts points to a fruitful method that the climate movement is only beginning to appreciate.

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Liz Spoerri: Conservative, Logical and Hopeful

liz3.jpgFive courageous climate dissidents are preparing to go to trial in Washington State on January 11. In September 2014 Abby BrockwayMike Lapointe, Patrick MazzaJackie Minchew, and Liz Spoerri blockaded a train used to transport bakken shale oil at the Delta rail yard in Everett. They are preparing to use a necessity defense, arguing in court that their actions were necessary in the face of impending climate catastrophe. We are honored to be working with them. You can find more of their story on their websiteHere is Liz Spoerri's story of her motivation for action. -Jay

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