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Tim DeChristopher’s Appeal: The Story of a Political Scapegoat

Tim DeChristopher’s Appeal: The Story of a Political Scapegoat

Tim DeChristopher, an environmental activist and, to many, a hero, requested an appeal on his prison sentence last week.  Currently, DeChristopher is serving out a two year federal prison sentence for bidding on 13 parcels of land in Utah put up for auction by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) back in 2008.

Commonly referred to as “Bidder #70,” DeChristopher decided to bid on the land, which is adjacent to national parks, that would otherwise be auctioned off by BLM for oil and gas drilling.  He ended up winning 14 drilling parcels for nearly $1.8 million.  It was later determined by the Obama Administration’s Dept of Interior that the “overall sale was improper” and the parcels were pulled from auction.  These parcels were initially put up for auction during the twilight of the Bush Administration.

DeChristopher, who co-founded the organization Peaceful Uprising, intended to make a statement at the auction, although at the time he did not have the funds in-hand to pay for the land he won.  Instead, he was aiming to raise the funds through future donations. Unfortunately, the federal government did not take DeChristopher’s actions lightly and, in many ways, is apparently now using him as a political scapegoat in an effort to dissuade any further civil unrest regarding climate change protest.

His mother referred to DeChristopher’s trial as “a railroading,” and said she “had been surprised that the government prosecuted at all.”  She went on to comment that she believes [the trial] happened because the “government needed to shut up any opposition to the status quo.”

In the end, DeChristopher was merely trying to make a point: climate change is real and it demands an immediate public outcry.  We cannot simply sit idle while oil and gas drilling continues unabatedly under our noses (think Canadian Tar Sands).  Instead of waiting for government (in)action, he decided take matters into his own hands and he is now paying the price, although his support network and followers continue to grow significantly.

Not only have DeChristopher’s actions outside of prison sparked national attention, but his life behind bars has also made headlines. In March, Tim was quietly removed from the minimum security area of the Herlong Correctional Institution in California to the “Special Housing Unit,” or isolated confinement wing, for sending an email about a donation to a colleague at Peaceful Uprising.  The real reason?  Nobody is exactly sure, but the relocation request came from one unnamed Congressman.

A subsequent article by Rolling Stone highlighted DeChristopher’s move to “the hole” following a tip from one of his coworkers and an immediate mass of public outcry resulted, demanding he be immediately relocated to the Herlong Correctional Institution.  DeChristopher was released in response to public opposition, but not before enduring torturous conditions for multiple weeks that included an 8 x 10 cell, which he shared with one other inmate, only four hours of daylight over a two week period and restricted writing and communication access, other than 15 minutes of phone calls per month.  These conditions would be deemed cruel and unusual punishment for anybody, yet for someone like DeChristopher whose actual “crime” is still up for debate, this type of treatment is simply unthinkable and unjust.

Climate change is an increasingly critical political issue and environmental activists are more and more taking matters into their own hands given the inertia of many governing bodies.  As such, DeChristopher’s appeal represents much more than an earlier prison release, although that is the principle reason for the request. His appeal also illustrates how one’s own government can defend an illegal land auction over a citizen who cares about their country and the fate of the world when it comes to climate change.

Depending on the appeal process, DeChristopher is scheduled to move to a minimum-security camp in Littleton, Colorado to be closer to his family.  After prison, he “plans to continue a life of social activism … as a minister.”

Related Stories:

Prison Officials Isolate Enviro-Activist Tim DeChristopher

Activist DeChristopher Convicted of Two Felonies

Vermont First State to Ban Fracking

 

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Photo Credit: As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain

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46 comments

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5:39AM PDT on Oct 9, 2012

The real crime is what they did to Tim, because he had the guts to get up and speak and act for what he believes in - protecting the environment.
Patience, Tim, you will soon be out and we know you will not stop your good work. God bless.

3:25AM PDT on Oct 9, 2012

This information shows that neither political party in the United States cares about anything except profit and greed!!

4:12PM PDT on May 17, 2012

I met Tim DeChristopher at NetRoot Nation annual convention here in Minneapolis. That he was tried and convicted at all is a sign of the complete corruption of the current state of our government and political system which is under severe sway by the oil, coal and natural gas mega-corporations that buy our elections and lobby to wrench control away from we citizens. We should all occupy any and everything we can until we get our democracy back.

2:04PM PDT on May 17, 2012

noted, and signing petition!

1:04PM PDT on May 17, 2012

Jelica R - thanks so much for adding action points! I actually created a petition to coincide with my post, but it's still not up (seems to be some technical difficulties with Care2 and petitions...).

12:57PM PDT on May 17, 2012

It's sad that this citizens had to take such actions. It's disgusting that the government is allowing money to take common sense protections away from making public policies. Who would ever give profiteers parcels of land to mine right next to a state or federal park. Give me a friggin break!!!

12:56PM PDT on May 17, 2012

BTW; Mr. DeChristopher DID collected the money for those 14 drilling parcels, THEN the government decided that the “overall sale was improper” (which it was). That was Mr. De Christopher's point initially, and the government finally got it. Question: Why is Mr. DeChristopher in prison and BLM officials who violated the auction rules (and several laws in the processs) walk free?

Wanna help? Sign and share:

Tell Congress to Investigate and End the Unjust Incarceration of Tim DeChristopher.

President Obama: Pardon Environmental Activist Tim DeChristopher

12:55PM PDT on May 17, 2012

BTW; Mr. DeChristopher DID collected the money for those 14 drilling parcels, THEN the government decided that the “overall sale was improper” (which it was). That was Mr. De Christopher's point initially, and the government finally got it. Question: Why is Mr. DeChristopher in prison and BLM officials who violated the auction rules (and several laws in the processs) walk free?

Wanna help? Sign and share:

Tell Congress to Investigate and End the Unjust Incarceration of Tim DeChristopher.

President Obama: Pardon Environmental Activist Tim DeChristopher

3:25AM PDT on May 17, 2012

this is appalling. In Syria, one would expect it, but in the States?

9:54PM PDT on May 16, 2012

He made his statement, now he needs to be released. People are treated better who have committed horrendous crimes.

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