DeChristopher could have received up to 10 years in prison, but Judge Benson recognized that DeChristopher's motive wasn't really criminal, but on behalf of an altruistic cause. But Judge Benson noted that such a detour into crime — however passionate DeChristopher's beliefs — could not be excused under the objective lens of the law, and said civil disobedience cannot be the order of the day. DeChristopher was not sentenced to pay restitution, and in deference to the fact that he ordinarily does not pose a threat to anyone's person or property, will serve his sentence at the low-security Englewood prison in Littleton, CO, followed by an additional three years on probation.
Prosecutors didn't seek the maximum 10 years because DeChristopher took responsibility for his actions. However, they rejected leniency because DeChristopher is absolutely unrepentant -- DeChristopher proclaimed he'll keep on fighting when he gets out of prison, and likens the "climate justice" cause to the civil rights movement, and compares "climate justice" activists facing arrest to the 1960s-era Freedom Riders. Before the sentencing, DeChristopher told KSTU Channel 13, "I'm certainly nervous about what's going to come down today. I certainly can’t say that I’m not still scared of prison, but I’m a lot less scared than I was a couple of years ago. The closer it's gotten, the more I feel like it's something I can handle."
"Climate justice?" Tim DeChristopher's sense of commitment is admirable, but his cause absolutely sucks. I no longer consider him an "eco-terrorist", but his fanaticism is totally misdirected towards an issue over which we have little cotnrol -- the environment. DeChristopher emits a carbon footprint just like anyone else. Perhaps if DeChristopher had directed his fanaticism towards a more relevant issue, such as the First Amendment or the Second Amendment, he'd be worthy of support. If this guy was taking a stand against asset forfeiture or a SWAT invasion of his home, I'd be in his corner.
Advocates on behalf of DeChristopher were protesting around the courthouse. Representatives of the group he co-founded, Peaceful Uprising, led the crowd in songs and speeches. After the sentence was pronounced, other protesters began tying themselves together with plastic zip ties and blocking the stairs into the federal courthouse. Yet another group staged a sit-in inside the lobby of the courthouse. Some of the protestors eventually spilled out onto Main Street where they blocked the TRAX train tracks. Their demonstration prevented trains from passing through, causing delays all over the Utah Transit Authority system. The protestors were warned by police, but 26 of them failed to heed the warnings, and were arrested.
Public Reaction: Comments posted in the more liberal Salt Lake Tribune are more sympathetic towards DeChristopher than those in the more conservative KSL and Deseret News websites. Read some typical comments culled after the jump:
cachedout 19 minutes ago (Salt Lake Tribune):
I have plenty of respect for people who work hard to get a seat at the table. Plenty of organizations like SUWA and Save our Canyons have been doing terrific work in this regard, for example. They've generally played by the rules and they've made strong headway through negotiation and intelligent use of the justice system. Effective environmentalism isn't a spur of the moment action, it's the result of decades of hard, persistent and generally thankless work.
Tim DeChristopher didn't work hard to get a seat at the table. Instead, he crashed the party.
If the environmental movement wants to gain followers, it might do well not to hold up convicted criminals as heroes. If that's the ethical standard they want to be beholden to, watch out. It's a long race to the bottom and one they're almost certain to lose.
Carbon Dioxide 41 minutes ago (Salt Lake Tribune):
They should have required everyone bidding to show they could pay for the bids if they won and also required everyone to put $50000 into an escrow account beforehand. If they don't pay they lose the money. It would have prevented him from bidding in the first place.
Arby | 5:24 p.m. July 26, 2011 KAYSVILLE, UT (Deseret News):
This isn't the way to change " the system". You are privileged to live in this free country that is governed by laws. If you want to change the system, change the laws. But as long as this is legal, don't get in the way. The way to stop gas and oil leases is to change the laws and procedures of the government. Not to interfere with a legally held auction. Elect those that support your views and opinions. If they don't win and change the laws, you still have to live within the law. But if they are elected to office, they can change those laws and procedures. Enjoy living in this country of freedom, governed by laws. Because if it was up totally up to me, I would lock up all the enviromental wackos in this country. But we have laws.
Roenick posted 1 hour ago (KSL Channel 5):
Wait a minute... So this guy gets 2 years in prison for some illegal bidding on BLM gas leases but another dude gets probation for setting 2 churches on fire? That makes no sense to me.
Shouldn't we be incarcerating those that pose a danger to society? [Ed. Note: This comment refers to another case where Patrick Ehat got wrist-slapped with probation for burning down two local LDS chapels.]
Fester posted 1 hour ago (KSL Channel 5):
DeCristopher was calculating in his plans and acting on the revolutionary methods in which he has been educated. Perhaps most who read and post here have missed the importance of the part in the story that DeChristopher is an economics student at the University of Utah? Perhaps you would want to know (be ready to connect the dots here) that the Economics Department at the UofU is world renown among economics academia for its focus on Heterodox Economics AKA Marxist Economics. So, it fits right in that DeChristopher is supporting radical ideas that support "the public good," a code word for Marxist and socialist thought? He is right out of the Saul Alinsky and Rules For Radicals movement. That's where they teach how to use "their rules against them," meaning against us. They will use lies and misinformation to support their vision of bringing about "the greater good." Don't be mis-lead that this DeChristopher is just a simple college student trying to do something good. He entered into a binding contract fraudulently and should learn that there are legal consequences for that action in our society. I just wish the consequences were equal to the theft and losses his actions caused.
Marie Fontaine posted 1 hour ago (KSL Channel 5):
without people like him America wouldn't exist. We need people that stand up to the wrong doings of the government. No, I dont think that the government is all bad, but in this case they were and I'm glad there are still people who will sacrifice their time and freedom for the greater good. History is going to show him as a hero. As Americans we need to question the government and get people talking. He knew what he was doing would send him to prison, he doesn't blame anyone but himself for going to prison, that was part of the plan. He needed this to become something big for everyone to recognize the importance of the situation. He broke the law, so he needs to be in prison for now, but this is how we progress... by doing something. Not by doing nothing.
rogerperk posted 19 minutes ago (KSL Channel 5):
And what does this accomplish? Bring it to the public eye? Honestly, the public doesn't care about auctions. Fix the law? Nope, not gonna happen either, this way. All it does is give those who think their point of view is the right one and should be followed regardless of the law yet another chance to try and apply unconstitutional elitism to this country. If you think your supposedly morally superior position is an excuse to break the law then you don't understand what the responsibilities of citizenship. all you want is your way or you throw a tantrum.