Monday, March 7, 2011

Tim DeChristopher's Speech After Guilty Verdict for Climate Civil Disobedience

Tim DeChristopher's Speech After Guilty Verdict for Climate Civil Disobedience

by Jamie Henn

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - On Thursday, a jury in Salt Lake City declared climate activist Tim DeChristopher guilty for his interference with an oil and gas auction held at the end of the Bush administration. He faces a sentence of up to 10 years, to be determined by a judge.

The following is a transcript and video of Tim's speech outside of the courthouse after the guilty verdict was handed down. Tim's words are reminiscent of the heroes of other social movements that used civil disobedience to achieve their ends. And they're a challenge to all of us working to solve the climate crisis to consider our own willingness to go to jail for our beliefs (in fact, a website, Climate Direct Action, has been set up for people to sign up to learn more about how to take part in civil disobedience for the climate).

Here is Tim's speech:

What the world wanted to see was how you would react. And you 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's happened here this week.

Because everything that happened inside that building tried to convince me that I was alone and that I was weak. They tried to convince me that I was like a little finger out there on my own that could easily be broken. And 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 hand with many fingers that could be united together as one fist, and that that fist could not 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 mislead into thinking that we are alone. We will not be lied to and told that 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's a symbol that we hold true to our vision of a healthy and just world and that we are building the self empowering movement to make it happen. All those authorities in there wanted me to think like a finger but are children are calling to us to think like a fist.

And we know that now I'll have to go prison, we know that now that is the reality. But that's just the job that I have to do. That's the role that I face. Many before me have gone to jail for justice and if we are going to achieve our vision many after me will have to join me as well.

No one ever told us that this battle would be easy. No one 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 on the shore, but it is the very purpose of a wave to rise up, because once it rises up above the horizon it finally has the perspective to see that it's not just a wave, that it's a part of a mighty ocean. And the sharpest rock on the wildest shore can never break that ocean apart, they can never wear that ocean down, because it's the ocean that shapes 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 of that.

© 2011 Huffington Post

Jamie Henn

Jamie Henn is the Communications and East Asia Director for the international climate campaign

29 Comments so far

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Posted by curiousteve

Mar 4 2011 - 9:13am

everyone of us surely can do a lot of things

in the fine tradition of civil disobediance

as this courageous and inspiring young man has done.

Posted by glenn ford

Mar 4 2011 - 9:26am

Viva DeChristopher.

I am praying for you.

All Power to the People!

correction: our children not are children.

Posted by askyourselfwhy

Mar 4 2011 - 9:46am

That ocean wave analogy is pure genius. Does anyone know if he copped that from someone else? No, I don't necessarily suspect him of doing so--if he did he's just as wise a person as the original for having done so--but I'd like to use that paragraph in a teaching environment and I'd like to make sure credit is duly given to the source.

Such an amazing resolve that man has, wouldn't you say? Would that we all could show such quality.

Posted by licketyglick

Mar 4 2011 - 9:59am

Extremely eloquent, unscripted, yet still humble guy.

No chance for appeal?

Posted by Visiting Professor

Mar 4 2011 - 10:01am

Very inspiring!

But could the author please edit the transcript to correct the obvious errors?

Posted by Gilberto

Mar 4 2011 - 10:11am

Gee, I feel tinkly all over and perhaps Amerika has awoken from her slumber...More young folks on the line and demonstrating what real democracy looks like, taste like and feels like...Amen, Awomen. Thank very much DeChristoper, our new Thoreau.

Editing and corrections not needed...Truth can be seen by all...lacking syntax or too many dangling participles.

Posted by SaboCat

Mar 4 2011 - 11:38am

Go ask a randon selection of people in you neighborhood (asuming you dont live in Utah) if they know who Tim DeChristopher is.

Posted by Caleb Abell

Mar 4 2011 - 12:24pm

Your point is well taken, but if you ask a random sampling of Americans who George Washington was, a surprising percentage of them wouldn't know.

Posted by iowapinko

Mar 4 2011 - 10:42am

Tim's message is articulate, clear and pure. And it becomes infinitely more authentic through his active commitment and sacrifice.

As so many genuine american patriots (like Howard Zinn) come to the end of their time on this planet, it is so reassuring to know that there are many coming up to take their place.
Thank you, Tim.

Posted by Birdbrain Alley...

Mar 4 2011 - 10:50am

The central fact to remember about this travesty is that even though the whole auction was INVALIDATED, a democrat administration CHOSE to punish the person who did the honorable thing, Again.

How many of Mr. DeChristopher's supporters will turn around and vote against their own interest out of fear of the republican beast and how many will keep their integrity and vote against both arms of the beast?

Posted by dlindorff

Mar 4 2011 - 10:53am

Holy shit! What an awesome speech! And the media keep telling us that Obama is an orator (sic)!.

This is someone we have surely not heard the last from.

Viva la Lucha!

Dave Lindorff

Posted by Stonepig

Mar 4 2011 - 12:43pm

dlindorf...nice point. Looking forward to your site.

Posted by AD

Mar 4 2011 - 12:57pm

Utal is the same state which convicted and executed Joe Hill. Gee, history sure does repeat.

Posted by Smarter

Mar 4 2011 - 5:05pm

"What an awesome speech!"

I very much agree. I kept checking if he had notes, or if the speech seemed rehearsed, but no. It seemed he extemporized the whole thing - sans script.

Well said. Well done.

Posted by Stonepig

Mar 4 2011 - 10:59am

curious steve...I liked your post at 9:13, that style worked well there

Curious Things

Every one of us
surely can do a lot of things
(More than games and tv)
In the fine tradition
Of civil disobedience
A call to arms open wide
Toward the heroes
The brave few who surrender
Giving up their life
A time cherished
To become this courageous
This inspiring
Young man
Thank you for your gift.

Posted by Earth Pope

Mar 4 2011 - 11:07am

Great point, Birdbrain. The corporate state has labeled all activists for the Earth "ecoterrorists" and they still make the top domestic terrorist list, even though there is no violence against people. Burn an SUV? 20-plus in prison. Torch a genetic engineering lab at night? 22-years in prison. Blow-up an oil rig, kill 11 people, dump millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf, eliminate thousands of small businesses and drive people to commit suicide? No problem. We give you your deep water permit back, keep you as our top military supplier for fuels and keep the taxpayer subsidies flowing into your coffers.

I think the last thing Mr. DeChristopher would want is for us to only acknowledge his oratory skills. It is very difficult to applaud with your fists.

Posted by Donny-Don

Mar 4 2011 - 4:28pm

Well-framed, Earth Pope.

I recognize that people like DeChristopher who knowingly break the law need to expect they'll have to pay some price. But the wildly skewed dispensation of "justice" in this country drives me insane.

How many JP Morgan scumbags spent time in prison for nearly imploding our entire economy, and ripping off taxpayers in this country for billions of dollars to make up their own losses? How many BP execs will spend time in prison for the crimes you enumerate above? How many Supreme Court justices will be impeached for blatantly abrigating their duties and selecting the president of the U.S. in 2000, rather than letting the Florida process play out on its own? How many Bush Administration officials spent time in prison for lying us into a war against a country that had nothing to do with 9-11 -- and then destroyed the careers of those who tried to call them out on their lies?

What a scam. Obviously, there's one definition of "justice" for the billionaires who pick the winners and make the rules. Another definition entirely for those of us who just want a more level playing field, and who seek a more liveable, sustainable world ... one whose health is not measured in units of dollars and cents.

Posted by Elisabet

Mar 4 2011 - 11:56am

I look forward to hearing about renewed action by 'ecolovers' and their friends. While Tim is in prison the fight continues. An activist behind bars is a plus/minus situation; often a rallying force.

Posted by Paul Revere

Mar 4 2011 - 12:08pm

" There comes a time when silence is betrayal ". Martin Luther King Jr.That time is now! As Tim DeChristopher is sentenced to up to 10 years in jail for trying to help us all.

Posted by ED

Mar 4 2011 - 12:22pm


1. Bush, Cheney, and the rest of their administration go scot-free after illegally invading countries based on lies, murdering more than one million people, and ordering torture;


2. Wall Street banksters go scot-free after committing fraud which collapsed most of the world's economies, causing millions of people to lose their jobs and their homes;


3. BP executives collect millions of dollars in bonuses after their company destroyed the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico and ruined the fishing and shrimping industries there.

And the Corporatist-Militarist Ruling Class wants us to respect their "system" of "justice"?

Posted by NMLib

Mar 4 2011 - 12:29pm

Wait a minute-- this guy faces up to 10 yrs in prison; meanwhile, the real crooks of Wall Street go unpunished. And Bradley Manning rots in prison, his condition deteriorating daily. But most Americans go about their business not knowing or caring about any of this. Makes me sick.

Posted by Stonepig

Mar 4 2011 - 12:51pm

EarthPope, another excellent comment and true.
Sabocat...that is your job to go inform them. Why are you sitting there criticizing the ones who don't know who he is? My neighbors know because I have told them, and shown them the material. Get your butt out there.
Tim DeChristopher is our hero in jail, or out. Just like when Carol, Ardeth, and Jackie were in jail for spilling their own nun's blood on the missile. They had several years too. One even worked along side Martha. There are advantages to being in jail. Warm, food, time to write. When I am no longer responsible for immediate family members, I'll be in there too likely. Done it, ain't so bad.

Posted by davidmc

Mar 4 2011 - 1:24pm

Right on, brotha! Thank you for understanding your role!

Posted by moonpie

Mar 4 2011 - 2:08pm

Kudos for this guy. He laid it all on the line. Though I have to wonder if his time would be better spent expressing his passion and commitment outside of prison.


Posted by Ocean

Mar 4 2011 - 2:14pm

Those in power crucified Jesus also.

Posted by charlesthegreen

Mar 4 2011 - 3:15pm

Once again, just in case anyone's forgotten:

This is not the Bush administration. It's Obama and the Democrats, going Bush one worse.

Posted by SaboCat

Mar 4 2011 - 4:12pm

"That fist is not a symbol of violence...."


Did the author REALLY think he needed to write that to assuage someone's suspicions? And we wonder why the left is so powerless!

Not to date myself, but back in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, when medlists Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black-gloved, black-power fists during the US national anthem, everyone understood that they weren't being "violent". But apprently even "disrespect" is now considered "violence".

Posted by Smarter

Mar 4 2011 - 5:24pm

I agree with your "groan", Sabocat.

The difference to the silent black fists of the 1968 Olypics is a sign of how far back resistance has been pushed. The "politeness-tyranny" now demands everyone be obsequious at all times in public. Speaking the truth - to power or whomever - is gradually outlawed, as the contradictions in society intensify.

The battlefields have changed since 1968, and the forms of battle, too. But the deeper issues are the same. The struggle is ingenuity against brutality. The issues are still achieving or maintaining Liberty, Equality and Solidarity - for all.

Posted by Smarter

Mar 4 2011 - 4:59pm

We need quick and true, stamp-sized descriptions of deep analyses of the reach of the ecological problems in the world, in order to withstand the struggles being dismantled by "down-blanding" of the connections and facts.

Admission that the eco-struggle is part of a civil-war like condition in the human tribe on earth, with the richest systematically and deliberately exploiting the poorest and poor - in fact whomever it's possible to get away with exploiting (including each other among the global «western» upper and middle classes) - is central to gaining harmonious human ecological activities. .

This global system in its inception was set up by people - good or bad, and at least often well-meaning - who had little inkling of the problems their creations would create and encounter some decades or centuries down the timeline. Most of the "guilty" are dead and long gone.

But their creations - e.g. the global banking system relying on the cancer-growth like principle of Compound Interest for exploitation - live on. It's like a juggernaut careening through a beautiful formal garden with no one at the steering-wheel. But with most people thinking there actually is someone at the wheel, and many considering the presumed but missing driver(s) to be downright evil.

Meanwhile many good people are hard at work trying to ameliorate the juggernaut, in stead of dispensing with its destructive results altogether, by clearing paths for it through the garden (earth), repairing destruction or sending frantic messages to the supposed but absent driver(s). To stop the juggernaut and the benefits from the paths it's clearing, is the very last its supplicants consider.

The smart approach is to reach into the juggernaut's engine and disconnect the energy-supply from the principle of Compund Interest (read Prof. Michael Hudson's brilliant expositions on CI, at his website ). Then CI must quickly, preferably immediately, be replaced with driver(s) controlling a sound principle of forward movement ("growth") - as people will still need to grow with change, in order to keep up with external impulses, changes and natural decay.

One suggestion for replacement-principle is to use the inherent natural growth/decay-rate of humans as a blue-print for our impact on the environment.

This amounts to, on a rough average: A person grows from 0 to 75 kg, and lives for 75 years. The physical growth stabilizes at age 25, when the organism reproduces. 3 generations thus continously overlap and fall away. Each adult (in this thinking) on average begets one child. At death the growth to 75 kg in 25 years and maintained for 50 years, rapidly decays back to 0 (cremation ensures this recycling to near zero weight in minutes).

The simple formula for this optimum growth/decay becomes: 75 kg/75 years = 1 kg/years growth => 100/75 kg/years = 1.33 % annual average growth over the lifespan.

1,33 percent is the natural optimum growth for human produce, countering the natural decay.

This has been an example of the quick-access, stampsized analyses required to keep our minds and intentions together during the fight. The fight is to reach the energy-supply of the driverless juggernaut, without being distracted by the effects of the principle in operation - the juggernaut moving, roaring and shaking - while on the way to the (dis-)connecting point(s).

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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


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