From Truth Out: http://www.truth-out.org/punishing-protest-policing-dissent-what-justice-system/1329418798
by: Erik Hoffner
Monday 20 February 2012
This year promises to be another historic year of people calling for change worldwide. Citizens took to the streets for a wide variety of reasons, from the Wisconsin Capitol to DC, which hosted many actions last year, including the highly visible civil disobedience of activists seeking to halt the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The resulting mass arrests, totaling over 1,200 by early September, surely played a large role in President Obama's decision to delay approval of that climate- and water-supply-threatening project.
The climate justice movement also experienced a low point this year, though, when its most visible young leader, Tim DeChristopher, was sentenced to two years in prison for disrupting a federal oil and gas lease auction by peaceful means. Even though the auction was later shown to be illegal, DeChristopher's case proceeded in a manner that made it clear that the government's prosecutor sought to make an example of an activist who showed no remorse.
For his part, Tim saw it as a necessary action to protect his future from runaway climate change, and seemed ready to prove that his movement is unafraid of such retribution when he refused to apologize or take a plea deal. As he told Terry Tempest Williams in Orion recently, "... it's important to make sure that the government doesn't win in their quest to intimidate people ... They're trying to make an example out of me to scare other people into obedience." The punishing protest is not unusual, and can result in long-term victories for those targeted, but that didn't comfort Patrick Shea, DeChristopher's lawyer, who said in a recent post that he'd witnessed "a miscarriage of justice, fairness, and what I believed America stood for."