This is what LOVE looks like

(Cross posted from

Watching Tim speak in the courtroom, watching him utter words that would be echoed and transported across oceans, seeing him in all his candor and vulnerability, I realized that it’s the most powerful I’ve ever seen him. As he earnestly looked the judge straight in the eye asking him to join him — to join us — I simply could not ignore the eery yet deeply moving sensation that this statement would be one for the history books.

This is what hope looks like… This is what patriotism looks like… This is what love looks like.”
-Tim DeChristopher. July 26th 2011. Salt Lake City Federal Courthouse
(Read full statement here)

On that day, in that courtroom, his invitation fell on deaf ears. Judge Benson did not open up his heart to Tim’s plea and instead chose to respond with the inflexible “rule of law,” the systemic stance that an empowered citizen effectively challenging the status-quo should be contained and silenced.

In those initial nauseating and destabilizing moments, I simply could not process the judge’s words. 24 months of federal incarceration? To be taken into custody forthwith by US Marshals? Chained up like a dangerous criminal? All after making it crystal clear that the prison sentence was the result of Tim’s outspoken political views?

Crushed by the daunting realization that there would be no final good-bye, no last hug, I rushed down the courthouse steps, dizzy and in shock. Despite my personal trauma, the world needed to know, needed to hear Peaceful Uprising’s outrage and our call for a peaceful, directed, and sustained response. Continue reading ‘This is what LOVE looks like’

An ordinary man taking on extraordinary tasks

A few words about my friend, Tim DeChristopher: he is not a hero. Albeit a bright, inspiring and magnetic presence, Tim is also human – a man with his own set of fears, insecurities and weaknesses. And idolizing him only serves to alienate him to a cold, lonely pedestal– a veneration that in reality troubles him. Viewing him that way is also critically disempowering to our movement. It gives us the green light to remain stagnant. “I could never be so brave, nor measure up to his actions.”

Let us not forget that in December 2008, at the time he waltzed into the federal auction, Tim was void of any formal training. He acted spontaneously, from a very vulnerable and inexperienced position. In fact, the first thing he did after being questioned by a federal agent was to call a friend for help. By neglecting to embrace his ordinariness, we are silencing his deep desire; that of every day people taking bold, non-violent action.

Equally as disconcerting is overhearing people say: “Tim, you’re truly extraordinary — good luck in there.” Have we accepted the plausible scenario of a 2, 5, or perhaps even an 8-year-prison sentence imposed for peacefully raising a bidder paddle? Can we sit idly by as our judicial system clearly sends out the message that activists either take plea bargains or mentally prepare themselves to sit behind bars for x amount of time for acts of peaceful civil disobedience? Unacceptable, that these should be our options.

Continue reading ‘An ordinary man taking on extraordinary tasks’


Henia Belalia first got involved with social justice work as a theatre director, experimenting with multiple performance art forms to shed light on prevalent socio-political concerns. Since then, she spent two years working for Greenpeace in San Francisco. Today, she continues her work advocating for Climate Justice with Peaceful Uprising and Rising Tide North America.

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