Breaking: Tim DeChristopher sentenced to 2 years in prison, taken immediately into custody

(Cross-posted from

Tim DeChristopher was sentenced to 2 years in prison today at the Salt Lake City federal courthouse. He was taken immediately into custody, being denied the typical 3 weeks afforded to put his affairs in order and say goodbye to his friends and family.

Federal prosecutors asked for Tim to receive an extra harsh prison sentence in an effort to intimidate the movement that stands with him. They hoped that by condemning him to years behind bars, they would “make an example out of him” and deter all of us from taking meaningful action. But Tim is already an example. He’s an example of the courageous acts that people across our movements are taking to fight for justice and a liveable future. We support Tim by continuing to organize. Our response to this sentence is an affirmation: we will not be intimidated.  What’s your response?

The government’s statement is clear. Tim has been sentenced to 2 years as punishment for his politics; for the uncompromising content of his speeches and organizing in the two years since his act of civil disobedience protected 150,000 acres of land. Ironically, his principled views and motivations behind his actions he took were never allowed to enter a courtroom, due to their “irrelevance.” In a highly political trial, the jury was unjustly stripped of its right to be their community’s conscience and manipulated into making a political prisoner of a peaceful and concerned young man.

Tim DeChristopher

Author and activist Terry Tempest Williams said, “To think that a young man in an act of conscience might [do any amount of time] in a federal prison for raising a paddle in an already illegal sale of oil and gas leases, compared to the CEO of BP or the financial wizards on Wall Street who have pocketed millions of dollars at our expense  – and who will never step into a court of law to even get their hands slapped, let alone go to jail, is an assault on democracy.”

She’s right. But we have the power to turn this assault on democracy into a battle for democracy. Today the Salt Lake City community is expressing both their love and their outrage.

Fossil fuel lobbyists knew that Tim would be indicted the evening before it was officially filed, Jury members explained that they were intimidated throughout the process. The fossil fuel industry should not control our justice system.

Unless we decide to respond accordingly, as Tim serves his time, the real criminals — the fossil fuel industry wrecking our planet and our communities — will continue to run free, unaccountable for the countless oil spills, asthma attacks, contaminated waterways, cancer clusters, and carbon seeping into the air we breathe every day. If the justice system is intent on prosecuting the people protecting rather than pillaging the planet, we must confront the real criminals ourselves. With our heads held high, we continue to stand on the moral high-ground – and will do what’s right, despite the consequences. We know that mother nature’s consequences of inaction are far harsher than any imposed by a court system.

But we are not isolated individuals. We come together with our communities as groups of empowered agents of change who know our system is broken and does not represent us. Our communities represent us, and our vision of a resilient, just, and sustainable world that we are fighting for.

Tim’s sentence is a call to action.

For those of us who’ve been following his story fervently, our hearts were broken today. It is a sad moment. But we now have an opportunity and a responsibility to act on those feelings of hurt and outrage. For Tim’s sacrifice to truly mean something, for the spark it ignites in each of us to burn, we all must take action.

2011 has already become a year of peaceful uprisings around the country. As Tim once said, we were never promised that it would be easy. We know it will take courage, sacrifice and a willingness to sustain our resistance in our fight for real Justice. Tim has taken a step and we will take the next thousand.

Here are a few upcoming action opportunities to join:

We’ll see you on the streets,

Peaceful Uprising and Tim’s community of courage.

35 Responses to “Breaking: Tim DeChristopher sentenced to 2 years in prison, taken immediately into custody”

  1. 1 Kait Jul 26th, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    What a backwards world we live in. I will see you all in St Louis and in DC, down with this bullshit. Let’s take to the streets

  2. 2 Freedom Jones Jul 26th, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Well then, like the banks, the government should bail him out or else the bank executives should ALL be in prison too. Our law enforcement divisions are a joke…just a protection racket for corporations like Gen. Smedley Butler said in : War Is A Racket. These people have no morals or sense of justice and are puppets who are afraid to take on the big enemies. They are afraid of this guy???????

  3. 3 Jean Andre Vallery Jul 26th, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Your actions and sacrifices will be honored. We the people will finally come to terms and refuse to drive vehicles and make a valid difference to the pocketbook of greed! Stop using cars and trucks for a week, then a month, then two months. It could go further. Everything in our society revolves around the car. from birth to death.
    Jean Andre Vallery

  4. 4 Joy Maitland Jul 26th, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    There is an action scheduled in DC for this October, the purpose of which is to “resist the corporate machine by occupying Freedom Plaza until our resources are invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation.” It would be great if your efforts on behalf of Mr. DeChristopher could be united with this October action, as you share similar aims. I think the more people, the greater the impact. Because, after all, at the base of most of our problems is corporate interference in our democracy.

    For more information:

  5. 5 Bujutsukai Jul 26th, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    So, I notice that no one is acknowledging the fact that Mr. DeChristopher has broken a law. Besides, if he didn’t go to jail, how many people would go to the next rally or protest for the cause? Seriously. It’s a couple of years at best, and will only help the overall goal. Kudos, Tim, for taking this one for the team.

  6. 6 Mélanie Tessier Jul 26th, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    You are certainly a real hero dont give up and dont let them bring you down,keep on being brave and I stronly believe that real justice will prevail.Mister DeChristopher,if they put you in jail ,in part you are winning somehow,you must be getting some Asshole upset.Lot’s of love from Montréal Québec

  7. 7 Peter S.Mulshine Jul 26th, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    President Obama should Immediately issue a presidential pardon. Wall st &Goldman Sachs has done much worse.

  8. 8 Jean Andre Vallery Jul 26th, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Lets see, taking to the streets? Still hasn’t helped at any of the G 10- ? meetings around the world. So we show our numbers. The man films it put it into his facial recognizing software, pulls up the drivers license, finds the mailing address, and comes and takes you away. Better yet to honor Tim and his sacrifice stop using automobiles and then the man/pig can’t come and take you way. The way the poor man can make a difference is refuse to use the crap to begin with. We know coal strikes only work until the poor miners are starving. Use your friggn’ heads everybody. Less that 2% of the people out there in the poor public even know what a balanced checkbook is, why would they know about big oil and gas futures.
    The department of homeland security placed in there online papers that veterans are now being considered a possible terrorist threat. With that being said I take it that those in charge are sheltered and scared of there shadow.
    If you want booze buy moonshine, if you want weed grow your own. Stop spinning your wheels people and start a complete shut down of the man/pig pocketbook from big oil and insurance companies. refuse to drive your vehicle. sell it. walk, ride a bicycle stop talking trash and just do it.

  9. 9 anonymous Jul 26th, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    I think we should all create a donation site for Tim so that he might be able to live a reasonable existence when he gets out of jail. After all by doing this they have really ruined many of his chances at reasonable employment. After all he acted in faith to save our future and our environment for our children lets help him do the same.

  10. 10 Jose Jul 26th, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Alberta Canada need to do something , we are whith you , we need to move against the injustice and stop killing our planet.

  11. 11 Biggi Jul 27th, 2011 at 12:39 am

    I do not understand ! While Crooks like monsanto, fraudulent bankers, killers/makers of unsafe pharmaceuticals & environmental terrorists get barrely if at all a slap on the hand this man goes to jail ! Thank You Tim ! The people are indebted to you for standing up for what makes sense !

  12. 12 Joel Wochner Jul 27th, 2011 at 12:51 am

    If our judicial and government are going to resist this guy – consciously or unconsciously – isn’t that a form of or the polar opposite of protectionism? I thought they were supposed to be protecting us – all they do is protect their own interests. So much resistance to all things in life in this society seem to lead to right vs. wrong and picking sides, or protecting the system. Well, this system is not worth protecting anymore – why resist it – it’s broken and no matter what we / the system do it’s in the process of shutting down and failing. So regardless of a revolution or a revolt the system is running out of energy – it’s dying! Thank you Jesus!! I’d much rather spend more time with my family and friends anyway than trying to protect someone else’s interests in any corporation – the problem is the system runs things and until we rise up and remove ourselves from the resistance / competition / resource machine / and protectionist agenda’s it will physically / emotionally / spiritually / mentally inhibit our dreams and visions – the machine will keep us down. And, blame is not the thought. Peace and unity seem to be better thoughts than blame – especially if thriving is in our future.

    We must choose a new future out of fear, scarcity, and protectionism – all of us, not just them. Let’s choose peace and community.

  13. 13 Gary Levin Jul 27th, 2011 at 5:25 am

    Just what were the exact charges against him? Trespassing? Inciting a riot? WTF? He must have had a lousy attorney !!

  14. 14 patti karpis Jul 27th, 2011 at 7:49 am

    I hope that in the future other activists can find a way not to get arrested. This just lets all of the people we are trying to stop get us to look like the criminals. We can get things done without breaking any laws look at Gandhi lets be smart about what actions we take. Peaceful, persistence wins every time make it easy for the opposing forces to see reason.

  15. 15 Tatiana Jul 27th, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I posted this on FB and a friend asked me “what can we do to support him?” Any ideas? How can we help?

  16. 16 Joshua Kahn Russell Jul 27th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    @Tatiana – the best way you can support Tim is by organizing in your community! But immediate steps include the upcoming Tar Sands mobilization in DC, or if you can’t make it yourself, you can make a donation to support other activists in their work. See for information on next steps.

  17. 17 Susan Lynn Jul 27th, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Such a clever and brave act on DeChristopher’s part. And so What? Really? Sentencing someone for protecting our land and our health? What an ignorant, fascist throng. This power is not real power if our planet and our health is destroyed in its midst.

  18. 18 scott p Jul 27th, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    besides the tar sands action in DC, you can also go to the midwest climate convergence (hometown of 1st and 2nd largest coal companies in the US peabody and arch coal) and raise a little hell.

  19. 19 BowMtnSpirit Jul 29th, 2011 at 2:00 am

    Believe it or not, there are many who support Tim and you all in Idaho! I’ve re-posted Tim’s comments at sentencing on my blog,, and his stand is an inspiration. Tim’s moral assault on the criminality of the fossil fuel industry will likely not stop our slide into oblivion, but every fight delays or deters a poisoning of our world, and every fight is a victory in itself, no matter how it turns out.

  20. 20 BowMtnSpirit Jul 29th, 2011 at 2:11 am

    @ Joel Wochner: Yes. We’re heading into the abyss, and our world will be changing radically even if we do nothing. But every time we stand, like Tim has done, we accomplish a number of things. We find others who can help all of us, and who have the compassion and courage to grasp our hands in the process. We gain our own confidence that the world can be seen in a different way. We stop the degradation of one little piece of our sustaining Earth. And, like Tim has done for me personally, we plant a seed of hope. Keep the faith. Fight on.

  21. 21 Joellen Gilchrist Jul 29th, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    First, talk about it. Yesterday I was with 3 well-informed, intelligent, environmentally-conscious friends and noen of them knew who Tim DeChristopher was, thanks to the failure of US mainstream media. So we all need to start there.

    Second, while protesting in DC SHOULD get some coverage of the tar sands, don’t count on that either. We each need to become organizers of our own local area, which means talking, calling, meeting together, reaching out to other already-sympathetic organized groups in existence and try for some joint mtgs. We all must enlarge and activate numbers of people who are depressed and upset by this country’s environmental inaction, It’s the antidote to our despair and the impetus to change. Make a call today, or talk to a friend, coworker, or neighbor, or write a letter to the editor. They publish lte’s in response to numbers received, so you are instumental even if yours is not published.

  22. 22 Julie Jul 30th, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I can’t believe first of all how many Americans don’t know what’s going on. This is despicable. I can’t see how any American politicians including Obama can look in the mirror. How can they face their own children and grandkids when they ask: why are those people poor, hungry, dirty, not going to school, being forced to have abortions, forced to pay high prices for fuel. Do they think by oppressing us for the sake of oil that we will fuel this country as we get ill, can’t go to the doctor, pay higher taxes, eat unhealthy food that is all we can afford? Do you think we can fuel your expensive habits including your oil this way? You oppress people and they won’t do what you want but will revolt, especially in America. People should realize we’re living in a modern day monarchy that has been hidden in every way under the name of democracy and freedom WAKE UP PEOPLE! We’re supporting you Tim, you’ve started a new civil disobedience wave and we’ll all keep it going! Thanks

  23. 23 Randy Clere Aug 1st, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    What we are seeing in our country is the rising and ugly head of Fascism… This is not just the Republicans, but the Democrats as well… the combining of corporate and government interests=Fascism! Vote with your wallet and purses!

  24. 24 green Aug 18th, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Can anyone provide the names and email addresses of every government official involved with this agregious travesty of justice?
    Judge, Prosecuters, Dept. of the Interior, etc.
    We should be outraged and blast emails to all complicitous parties.

  1. 1 26 go to Jail for Justice outside SLC courthouse « It’s Getting Hot In Here Trackback on Jul 26th, 2011 at 10:24 pm
  2. 2 26 go to Jail for Justice outside SLC courthouse « praxis makes perfect Trackback on Jul 26th, 2011 at 10:45 pm
  3. 3 What Tim deChristopher’s arrest means for the environmental movement | Virginia Powershift Trackback on Jul 26th, 2011 at 10:47 pm
  4. 4 26 Arrested in Blockades Outside of DeChristopher Trial « Earth First! Newswire Trackback on Jul 26th, 2011 at 11:53 pm
  5. 5 404 Not Found Trackback on Jul 27th, 2011 at 3:25 am
  6. 6 26 Arrested in Blockades Outside of DeChristopher Trial | Earth First! Newswire Trackback on Jul 27th, 2011 at 7:30 am
  7. 7 Tim DeChristopher Sentenced to 2 Years in Prison « Southwest Earth First! Trackback on Jul 27th, 2011 at 10:14 am
  8. 8 26 DeChristopher supporters arrested | Grist Trackback on Jul 27th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
  9. 9 Yes to Sunflowers, No to Coal Plants « It’s Getting Hot In Here Trackback on Jul 28th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
  10. 10 Yes to Sunflowers, No to Coal Plants » Rainforest Action Network Blog Trackback on Jul 28th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
  11. 11 Debt Ceiling, Prisoners, Norway, etc. - Dollars & Sense Blog Trackback on Jul 29th, 2011 at 5:53 pm
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About Joshua Kahn

Joshua Kahn Russell is an organizer serving movements for social justice and ecological balance. He is an action coordinator, facilitator, & trainer with the Ruckus Society, and has trained thousands of activists. He has helped win campaigns against banks, oil companies, logging corporations, and coal barons; worked with a wide variety of groups in a breadth of arenas, from local resiliency projects, to national coalitions, to the United Nations Climate Negotiations. He has authored chapters for numerous books, most recently The Next Eco-Warriors. His articles have appeared in Yes! magazine, Left Turn, PeaceWork magazine, Upping the Anti, and Z Magazine. His blog is and you can follow him on Twitter at @joshkahnrussell For a full bio see:

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