I’m writing today to make sure you’ve heard the news about a necessity defense climate trial in Cortlandt, New York where six defendants have been granted a necessity defense by Judge Kimberly Ragazzo. Although the Westchester District Attorney’s office reduced charges to a level that denies these pipeline fighters a jury trial, their case is moving forward in a bench trial (in which the judge makes the ruling on guilt or innocence).
I spent spent the last two and a half days in preparation and in court with the defendants and their supporters, and this necessity defense trial is unfolding in some fascinating and promising ways.Read more
For the last two years, I have worked to lead a sustained resistance campaign to a fracked gas pipeline in West Roxbury, Massachusetts through more than a dozen civil disobedience actions and an extended legal process. Now those activists are finally going to trial on March 27th.
The judge has been supportive of the activists intent to use the necessity defense, so we are confident we will be able to make a full argument about why civil disobedience is necessary to avert the catastrophic harms of continued fossil fuel expansion. This case is a near-perfect opportunity for the strategy the Climate Disobedience Center has been pursuing for years. Every elected official representing West Roxbury opposed this pipeline, and the city of Boston even sued to try to stop it, so our argument that civil disobedience is necessary when our government is so rigged in favor of exploitative corporations is more compelling than any other #ClimateTrial necessity case yet.
Also, with fifteen activists from five different days of protests combined in one trial, we have the unique opportunity to argue the effectiveness of a campaign of sustained resistance. Civil disobedience doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but prosecutors sometimes try to act that way in order to make it seem like we couldn’t reasonably expect our actions to make a difference. In this trial, for the first time, we get to make the case for why a growing, escalating campaign can be so powerful at standing up to the most powerful industry in the world.
To make the most of this opportunity, we need the resources to bring in expert witnesses, pay court expenses, and dedicate our own staff time to this effort. We need to raise $5000 to make this happen. Please donate today, and join us in Boston on March 27th-30th for this groundbreaking case.
Michael Foster knew what he had to do last October when he turned the valve that shut off the Keystone pipeline in North Dakota: "Stop the poison."
Monday October 2nd, Michael heads to trial in Cavalier, North Dakota to make exactly that point: that he had no reasonable alternative to address the magnitude of the climate crisis, and as a conscientious citizen he was duty-bound to take the most appropriate action. Sam Jessup, who was Michael's support person in North Dakota, is headed to trial as well.
This is a unique climate trial. We have never before seen a high-profile action go to trial in the center of the country. The jury pool won't look like the one that would have sat for the Lobster Boat Trial, nor will it look like the juries in Washington State for the Delta 5 and Ken Ward's valve turner trials. We will be paying close attention to how these farmers and ranchers, who had this pipeline run through their back yards in 2010.
Thanks to Climate Disobedience Center Fellow, Nicky Bradford, for this great overview of Day 1 of Ken Ward's re-trial in Skagit County, Washington.
You'll find the post and links to social media updates here (on the front page of ShutItDown.Today).