Peaceful Uprising

Henia Belalia is a former organizer for Greenpeace who currently works for Peaceful Uprising. The following is an excerpt from her reflections on the sentencing of Tim DeChristopher, a climate activist currently serving two years in prison for peacefully disrupting a federal gas and oil lease auction.

Two weeks after his sentencing, I feel as though I’m finally emerging from a state of shock. Speaking to him through a monitor at the local county jail, seeing his strong smile, I finally accepted the fact that my friend is behind bars and will remain there for another 102 long weeks.

With every supportive message, email and phone call I’ve received, I’m gratefully reminded that this IS what love looks like. Love is an entire community crying, raging, screaming, breaking down, and holding one another. Love is the tough conversations that ensue, the restorative gatherings, the gardening and digging up dirt together, the willingness to stand for one another – despite our mistakes and shortcomings. Even when my knees go weak, even when my body won’t sustain its own weight, I know that someone is there to catch me.

Reverend C.T. Vivian, a civil rights activist, once said that you do not walk away from a movement. A fervent admirer of that era, Tim has often daydreamed of a Climate Justice movement in which every single one of us feels empowered to act, knowing that someone somewhere would have our back.

Tim  never ran from the punishment he faced, knowing that his sacrifice could stir something up in us, in our community, in our movement. It has. Witnessing the massive out pouring of support that his unjust sentence has generated, my heart swells and I smile, knowing that it now feels as real as ever.

Our hearts are broken today, as we witness our industry-ruled justice system attempt to alienate us from one another, but we can choose our response – because only WE govern our principles. The best gift we can offer Tim today is a Climate Justice movement that acts on its ideals, committed to an authentic nonviolent resistance.

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Photo credit: Peaceful Uprising