I’m writing you today about Tim de Christopher. For you that don’t know his name, here’s a short story: In its last days, the Bush administration was selling off 77 parcels of federal land totaling 150,000 acres for drilling, a last round of favors to the oil and gas industry. The leases were on wilderness areas, including some areas next to national parks. Business as usual.
So Tim went to the auction, intending to disrupt it. But greed being what it is, they not only let him in, they authorized him to bid! That day, Tim bid $1.7 million for 14 parcels of land totaling 22,000 acres – and, being a college student, Tim obviously didn’t have 1.7 cents in his pocket. Personally, I find that pretty hilarious, and the authorities demonstrated their own sense of humor by arresting him. A grand jury indicted him, and today, after a 4 day trial and 5 hours of jury deliberation, he was convicted. He faces a $75,000 fine and 10 years in prison.
In his trial, Tim wasn’t allowed to say that the entire auction was later invalidated because it didn’t follow the government’s own rules. He wasn’t allowed to talk about why he did what he did. Apparently motive matters for killers, but not for people trying to save lives. But I want to let Tim speak for himself. This is what he said today, after the verdict, to the people who had stood outside the court building during his trial, singing songs:
What the world wanted to see, is how we would react, and you all have reacted with joy and resolve. You’ve shown that your power will not be intimidated by any power that they have, and that’s the most important thing that has happened here this week.
Everything that went on inside that building tried to convince me that I was alone, and that I was weak. Inside that building, they tried to convince me that I was a little finger out there on my own that could easily be broken. All of you out here were the reminder, for all of us, that I wasn’t just a finger all alone in there, but that I was connected to a hand, with many fingers, that can unite as one fist, and that fist cannot be broken by the power that they have in there.
That fist is not a symbol of violence. That fist is a symbol that we will not be misled into thinking that we are alone. We will not be lied to and told we are weak. We will not be divided, and we will not back down. That fist is a symbol that we are connected, and that we are powerful. It is a symbol that we hold true to our vision of a healthy and just world and we are building the self empowering movement to make it happen. All the authorities in there wanted me to think like a finger, but our children are calling to us to think like a fist.
We know that now I’ll have to go to prison. We know that now that’s reality, but that’s just the job I have to do. That’s the role that I face, and many before me have gone to jail for justice. If we’re going to keep our vision, many after me will have to join me as well. Nobody ever told us that this battle would be easy. Nobody ever told us that we wouldn’t have to make sacrifices. We knew that when we started this fight.
“Every wave on the ocean that has ever risen up and refused to lay back down, has been dashed upon the shore. But it’s the very purpose of a wave to rise up, because once it rises above the horizon, it finally has the perspective to see that it’s not just a wave, but a part of a mighty ocean. The sharpest rocks on the wildest shore can never break that ocean apart. They can never wear that ocean down, because it’s the ocean that changes the shore.
“That’s what we’re starting to do here today. That’s what we’re starting to do here this week, with wave, after wave, after wave, crashing against that shore, we shape it to our vision. Thank you all for being a part.”
So we know what Tim did. What can we do? We can give a little money to support his appeal, if we have it. But that could leave Tim in prison for years. So in addition to that, I’m going to suggest that we Frogs go to the top, and seek a pardon. This will take you about 1 minute. Start by clicking here.
Fill in required info. I’d pick “CIVIL RIGHTS” for the Subject. Then paste in the following, or write your own version:
Dear President Obama,
Today Tim de Christoper was convicted on 2 felony counts for peacefully (maybe even a little whimsically) disrupting a public oil & gas lease auction which your Secretary of the Interior later said did not follow the government’s own rules.
The assistant United States attorney prosecuting the case, John W. Huber, said in his closing argument that the “rule of law” is crucial to a civil society. But let’s face it – in this case, the rule of law is only crucial when it applies to keeping order.
Where is the rule of law that prevents “lawmakers” from dismantling the EPA, and trying to prevent NASA from studying the progress of global warming? Where is the rule of law that prevents an oil-driven growth economy from starving and killing millions of people with the effects of that global warming? Where is the rule of law that prevents oil & gas corporations from internalizing their profits and externalizing the costs onto the rest of us via fracking, destruction of wilderness and species, climate change, etc.? Where is the rule of law that restrains us from pursuing a lifestyle that will result in our own destruction if we don’t make an abrupt shift to protect our habitat for the good of future generations? The law is blind. Tim de Christopher is a hero.
PLEASE PARDON HIM IMMEDIATELY.
[Your name and address]
A Friend of How to Boil a Frog
Send a copy to Tim’s organization, to politicians, to your local paper. Here are the email addresses for Canuckians:
The Montreal Gazette – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Calgary Herald – go to this page
The Globe & Mail – email@example.com
The Province – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Vancouver Sun – email@example.com
Other cities – a little Google’do ya!)
Please forward this email. One email will make no difference. A flood of emails will.
Till next time,
Jon & all his friends at www.howtoboilafrog.com
You’ve gotten the tattoo! Now watch How to Boil a Frog on DVD!