Climate activists convicted of climbing Mt. Rushmore, sending critical message

Feature story - January 5, 2010
The eleven climate activists who proudly staged a historic protest at Mount Rushmore last July appeared in court today for sentencing. All eleven pled guilty to the charge of Climbing Mount Rushmore and received a fine of $460 each. They will also perform 50-100 hours of community service in the National Park system depending on their individual sentences. The judge requested that some or all of that service be performed at Mt. Rushmore.

Three further charges against the activists - Basil Tsimoyianis, Brian Jenkins, Cy Wagoner, Hope Kaye, Jessica Miller, Joe Smyth, Madelaine Gardner, Mary Sweeters, Matt Leonard, Noah Mace, and Simran McKenna - were dismissed, as were all charges against Greenpeace.  In a civil decree, Greenpeace has agreed to pay a sum of $30,866, most of which will go to conservation and public park programs.

A single activist who has a history of peaceful civil disobedience, Matt Leonard, was sentenced to 2 days of jail time, which he began serving at 3 o'clock in the afternoon today.

On behalf of all the activists sentenced today, 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."

Direct action at Rushmore sent loud call for climate leadership


On July 8th, 2009, Greenpeace activists unfurled an enormous banner to the right of Lincoln's head on Mt. Rushmore. The banner bore an image of President Obama and read, "America Honors Leaders, Not Politicians: Stop Global Warming" - a challenge to President Obama to take a strong stance on climate change in the leadup to December's UN climate summit in Copenhagen (you can read more about the outcome of the climate summit here).

The activists took precautions to ensure that there was no damage done to the monument on Mt. Rushmore, which was recognized by the judge and taken into consideration in determining their sentences. The judge also noted their motivations and the longstanding tradition of peaceful protest in the US.

Read more about the Mt. Rushmore action, plus view pics and video, here.

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Make a New Years resolution to support Greenpeace in 2010, and help us do direct actions like the Mt. Rushmore banner hang to call for leadership in solving the climate crisis.