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Earlier this month, over 10,000 climate activists convereged on Washington D.C. for Powershift 2011, national youth climate summit.

Bill McKibben and Tim DeChristopher were both on hand with powerful speeches.

You can catch both McKibben and DeChristopher as special guests at this year’s festival.


Tim DeChristopher’s trial came to a close on Thursday, yet the outpouring of support continues. Many have cited this trial as a key turning point of the climate change movement.

“We know that now I’ll have to go to prison,” DeChristopher said. “If we’re going to achieve our vision, many after me will have to join me as well.”

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Photo via New York Times

By Alex Chadwick

A Salt Lake City federal jury deliberated for five hours Thursday before finding climate activist Tim DeChristopher guilty on both counts of disrupting a an oil and gas lease auction in the closing days of the Bush Administration. In an act he said was meant to delay the auction until the Obama Administration took office a month later, he bid almost $1.8 million on 14 leases that he could not pay for. Sentencing is delayed until late June. Tim could get 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000. His attorneys are considering an appeal.

Throughout the four days in the courtroom, Tim showed little emotion, and he held his face still as the clerk of the court read out the jury’s decision. His mother sat directly behind him in the first row of spectators… she looked grim and worn out. Other supporters held hands, and some began to weep. No one was surprised by what happened, but there was a lot of disappointment and regret. Tim stood aside with his legal team, and the spectators began to leave quietly to regroup for a support rally.

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Tim DeChristopher was found guilty today on both counts. Sentencing has been set for June 23, 2011.

From our Festival Director, David Holbrooke:

We are not surprised — but are deeply saddened — to hear of the guilty verdict of Tim DeChristopher. Mountainfilm celebrates indomitable spirit and Tim embodies that as much as anyone who has come through the festival. Tim has also been part of the inspiration of our festival theme this year: Awareness into Action. Our thoughts go out to Tim and his family on this difficult day.

A great quote in response to the verdict from Bill McKibben:

Tim has shown the power of civil disobedience to shine a light — the government should be giving him a medal, not a sentence, and in time this will be recalled as a key early battle in the century’s long fight for a livable climate.

Earlier today Peaceful Uprising wrote:

Whatever verdict is handed down, we’re ready to respond with joy, resolve, and commitment to one another and to the cause of climate justice.

Outside of the courtroom, the singing and support continue.

As someone posted in response to the verdict on Twitter, we are reminded of what Martin Luther King Jr., said back in 1956, “I left with a smile. I knew that I was a convicted criminal, but I was proud of my crime.”

Let us continue the movement.

Follow live updates on the trial here and here.


Great video on Peaceful Uprising and this week’s solidarity movement for Tim DeChristopher.

Tim entering court on Wednesday, March 2, 2011.

Is a “spur of the moment desire for hope” a federal crime?

That is what the jury will have to decide in Tim DeChristopher’s case, according to Defense Attorney Ron Yengich.

Live updates can be found here.

Tim leaving courtroom on Monday.

By Alex Chadwick

The trial of climate activist and Mountainfilm friend Tim DeChristopher goes to the jury today, with a verdict possible before day’s end.

Tim, a festival guest for the last two years, is being tried on two federal felony counts that could get him ten years in prison for disrupting an oil and gas leases auction in the last days of the Bush Administration. He is charged with – and does not dispute – placing winning bids on parcels that were being auctioned for development by the Bureau of Land Management, which controls huge ranges through the west. Tim said he acted because the reality of climate change is growing, and because time is running out, and because he didn’t think there was any legal means to challenge the Bush energy policies.

After two years of delays, the trial is now underway – thanks to the Justice Department of the Obama Administration. A federal prosecutor has argued this week that the case is about what happened, not why. The judge has supported that narrow approach, meaning that Tim is not allowed to talk about the reasons behind his acts of civil disobedience. His lawyers have managed to slide in some references to Tim’s concerns, but late Wednesday the judge settled on a set of jury instructions that will make acquittal more difficult. Closing arguments are Thursday morning. Then Tim’s fate lies in the hands of a dozen people who have sat through an entire trial of one of the world’s leading climate activists without hearing even two minutes of testimony about the coming catastrophe in the world their children will inherit.

Updates coming as the trial continues….

As day three of Tim DeChristopher’s trial wraps up, there’s still an outpouring of support; visible on the ground and virtually.

DeChristopher testified today, in which he emphasized that his purpose for going inside the auction was to “have a louder voice.”

That morning I had realized that the protest wasn’t really going to have much of an impact, and this auction deserved more than just holding a sign. I wanted to go inside and take stronger action to really raise a red flag as to what was going on there.

If you want to read Tim’s entire testimony, the Salt Lake Tribune has the full version on their website.

There has been a flurry of social media around Tim DeChristopher’s trial. Here is a roundup of some of the most poignant quotes that have made their way round the web in the past few days:

From Terry Tempest Williams’ Facebook page:

Last day of DeChristopher trial. I keep writing “trail” instead of “trial.” Whatever happens today in terms of verdict, this conversation will continue. Tim remains calm, cool, and centered. He is carrying the burden. Proof is our beautiful, broken planet.

From Bill McKibben:

Thinking of @DeChristopher as trial hour nears. And thinking of Ed Abbey, who’s standing up in his grave, fist raised

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Tim leaving courtroom on Monday

Support for Tim DeChristopher has stayed strong in Salt Lake City, both in and out of the courtroom.

Emily Long says of day one:

Regardless of the fact that most of the protestors outside had been up since before dawn and rallying for 10 or 12 hours, Tim was greeted by a huge crowd of supporters still holding ground on the front steps — a crowd I was told had earlier sung happy birthday to one of the cops who were making sure order was intact — singing “Stand” in solidarity with Tim. He was deeply moved by the huge outpouring of support.

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