The Necessity of Disobedience, with guest Tim DeChristopher

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Produced by: 
KBOO
Air date: 
Wed, 01/13/2016 - 8:00am to 9:00am
Climate Change on Trial in Seattle
While a group of armed antigovernment militants casually tears down fences and accesses personal and official files in their second week of occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge offices in Eastern Oregon, another group of protestors in Seattle goes on trial for blocking a mile-long oil train in September, 2014.

The case of the "Delta Five," as they've come to be called, went to court yesterday in Snohomish County District Court. The trial is attracting much more attention than a misdemeanor civil disobedience case ordinarily would because the judge has allowed the defendants to use the "Necessity Defense" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necessity ). This defense argues that it is legitimate to commit a lesser "crime" in order to prevent a greater harm. A classic example would be   breaking into a building in order to save someone from a fire. Allowing this defense means that expert witnesses can be called to support the argument that climate change is more dangerous than the group's alled crimes of trespassing and blocking a train. And it means that a jury of their peers will actually be able to decide on the merits of those deeper contextual arguments.

Guest Tim DeChristopher is himself no stranger to high-profile civil disobedience cases. In 2011, he was convicted in Utah on two federal felony charges relating to an action at a bitterly contested Bureau of Land Management auction for oil and gas leases adjacent to Canyonlands National Park. As "Bidder 70," DeChristopher bid on and won numerous parcels, thus keeping them from corporate exploitation. For his spontaneous gesture, he got  a two-year federal sentence. servomg 21 months. In his trial the judge disallowed the Necessity Defense.

Released from prison on April 21, 2013, DeChristopher is studying social justice movements at  Harvard Divinity School. He also is a co-founder of the Climate Disobedience Center,  which serves as a "catalyst for direct action, creating points of vivid moral clarity, emboldening both climate activists and the unlikeliest  of allies, capturing the heart and soul of the climate debate." http://www.climatedisobedience.org/


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