“I’ll join you.” That’s what the large crowd of supporters shouted back after hearing the announcement of Tim DeChristopher’s guilty verdict yesterday. After a week-long trial accompanied by a week-long solidarity rally, Tim DeChristopher, a modern American hero, was found guilty of two felonies for entering winning bids for the rights to thousands of acres near two national parks in Utah. DeChristopher could face up to 10 years in prison.
Tim DeChristopher, known as "Bidder 70," is a hero in the long American tradition of the Boston Tea Party, the Underground Railroad, and the Civil Rights Movement of civil disobedience to highlight the fact that some laws fly in the face of a higher, shared moral principle. Tim cleverly bid for the oil and gas leases on several parcels of federal land although he couldn't pay for them, thus jeopardizing the auction in an effort to save America’s wilderness for future generations and to highlight the immorality of burning coal, oil, and gas.
The guilty sentence that Tim is facing is a radical, disproportionate overreach to his action. DeChristopher stood up to protect our future from carbon pollution and the reckless hands of Big Oil. Just as racists should have been on trial in the Civil Rights Movement and the British during the Boston Tea Party, it is the oil and coal industries and their friends in Congress who pursue power and profit over the health of our children who should be in jail, not Tim.
"We know that now I’ll have to go to prison," DeChristopher said. "If we’re going to achieve our vision, many after me will have to join me as well."