Bidder 70 Speaks

From a post by Kelly Fragale at Reality Sandwich

Tim DeChristopher


Tim DeChristopher posed as a bidder in a government held oil and gas land auction.  He successfully won $1.8 million worth of land. Tim’s spontaneous actions to save pristine land from exploitation, during a government sale of public land; for pennies on the dollar to the oil industry, was less then amusing to the federal court system who fined “Bidder70” $10,000 and sentenced him to 2 years in prison on July 26th 2011.

He describes his pursuit not as a lack of respect for the law, but a greater respect for justice. “Where there is a conflict between the law and the higher moral code that we all share, my loyalty is to that higher moral code.”

Tim has proved himself an engaging and impassioned speaker throughout the trial. He reveals in his final statement to the jury, the courts role in protecting a power structure that takes advantage of people. Here is a snippet of Tim’s official statement:

The government’s memorandum states, ‘As opposed to preventing this particular defendant from committing further crimes, the sentence should be crafted ‘to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct’ by others.’ Their concern is not the danger that I present, but the danger presented by my ideas and words that might lead others to action. Perhaps Mr. Huber is right to be concerned. He represents the United States Government. His job is to protect those currently in power, and by extension, their corporate sponsors. After months of no action after the auction, the way I found out about my indictment was the day before it happened, Pat Shea got a call from an Associated Press reporter who said, ‘I just wanted to let you know that tomorrow Tim is going to be indicted, and this is what the charges are going to be.’ That reporter had gotten that information two weeks earlier from an oil industry lobbyist. Our request for disclosure of what role that lobbyist played in the US Attorney’s office was denied, but we know that she apparently holds sway and that the government feels the need to protect the industry’s interests.

The things that I’ve been publicly saying may indeed be threatening to that power structure. There have been several references to the speech I gave after the conviction, but I’ve only ever seen half of one sentence of that speech quoted. In the government’s report, they actually had to add their own words to that one sentence to make it sound more threatening. But the speech was about empowerment. It was about recognizing our interconnectedness rather than viewing our selves as isolated individuals. The message of the speech was that when people stand together, they no longer have to be exploited by powerful corporations. Alienation is perhaps the most effective tool of control in America, and every reminder of our real connectedness weakens that tool.

Mr. Huber wants you to weigh the loss for the corporations that expected to get public property for pennies on the dollar, but I believe the important factor is the loss to the public, which I helped prevent.  Again, we come back to this philosophical difference.  From any perspective, this is a case about the right of citizens to challenge the government.  The US Attorney’s office makes clear that their interest is not only to punish me for doing so, but, to discourage others from challenging the government, even when the government is acting inappropriately.  Their memorandum states, ‘To be sure, a federal prison term here will deter others from entering a path of criminal behavior.’  The certainty of this statement not only ignores the history of political prisoners, it ignores the severity of the present situation.  Those who are inspired to follow my actions are those who understand that we are on a path toward catastrophic consequences of climate change.  They know their future, and the future of their loved ones, is on the line.  And they know we are running out of time to turn things around.  The closer we get to that point where it’s too late, the less people have to lose by fighting back.  The power of the Justice Department is based on its ability to take things away from people.  The more that people feel that they have nothing to lose, the more that power begins to shrivel.  The people who are committed to fighting for a livable future will not be discouraged or intimidated by anything that happens here today.  And neither will I.  I will continue to confront the system that threatens our future.

Tim’s official statement can be read in full here.

Just as his genuine call for increased action regarding climate change continues to reach across the globe, Tim’s story is a reminder of the struggles endured by those throughout history who stood up for a higher moral code rather then surrendering to the laws and codes that did not reflect a humane level of justice. Leadership is all too often synonymous with sacrifice. Let us not forget this when he states; “I Do Not Want Mercy, I Want You To Join Me.”

As of August 4th 2011 Patagonia supports Tim with a $25,000 donation.

All donations can be sent to:
Tim DeChristopher’s Legal Defense Fund
252 South 1300 East, Ste. A
Salt Lake City, Utah 84102

Write Tim a letter:
Tim DeChristopher
#2011 – 06916
c/o Davis County Correctional Facility
PO Box 130
Farmington, UT 84025