Today, eleven Greenpeace activists appeared in court to enter a plea and be sentenced for the protest at Mount Rushmore last July. The activists pleaded guilty to the charge of Climbing Mount Rushmore, and received a fine of $460 each. They will perform 50-100 hours of community service in the National Park system depending on their individual sentence, and the judge requested that some or all of that service be performed at Mount Rushmore. A single activist, Matt Leonard, who has a history of peaceful civil disobedience, was sentenced to 2 days of jail time, which he will begin serving at 3 o’clock in the afternoon today.
The remaining three charges against the activists were dismissed, as were all charges against Greenpeace. In a civil decree, Greenpeace has agreed to pay a sum of $30,866, $25,000 of which will go to conservation and public park programs.
When the peaceful protest occurred last July, protestors unfurled an enormous banner in the space to the right of the carvings, just next to Lincoln's head. The banner depicted Obama's face, and read "America Honors Leaders, Not Politicians: Stop Global Warming," and was intended to challenge President Obama to take a strong stance on climate change in the leadup to December's international negotiations on climate change. There was no damage to the monument, and activists took precautions to ensure that. The care they took was recognized by the judge and contributed to their sentencing. The judge also noted their motivations, and the tradition of peaceful protest in our country.
The eleven individuals who were arrested have been awaiting the resolution for the past six months, and will now anxiously await the release of Matt Leonard.
On behalf of all the activists, Jessica Miller delivered a statement on the steps of the courthouse: "We climbed Mount Rushmore because we wanted to send a message to President Obama that this is an issue that is important to us, and to the future generations who will face the increasing impacts of global warming, like drought, severe weather and the loss of millions of lives around the world. We value living in a country where we can show our patriotism through the great American tradition of civil disobedience. It is, however, disappointing that Matt Leonard will serve jail time for something he should be proud of. Global warming is the most important crisis our generation must tackle, and it is time for all of us to stand up to stop global warming."
VVPR info: Contact: Molly Dorozenski, Media Officer, 917-864-3724 to arrange an interview with one of the activists; Lindsey Allen, Campaigner, 415-710-5601
Notes: Photos and video will be available at: http://usaphoto.greenpeace.org/mt_rushmore_broadcast_access/