Michael Foster knew what he had to do last October when he turned the valve that shut off the Keystone pipeline in North Dakota: "Stop the poison."
Next Monday, October 2nd, Michael will head to trial in Cavalier, North Dakota to make exactly that point: that he had no reasonable alternative to address the magnitude of the climate crisis, and as a conscientious citizen he was duty-bound to take the most appropriate action. Sam Jessup, who was Michael's support person in North Dakota, is headed to trial as well.
Michael is facing a raft of charges: criminal mischief, criminal conspiracy to commit criminal mischief, reckless endangerment (all felonies) and criminal trespass (a misdemeanor). These charges carry maximum possible jail time of 22 years. Sam is charged with conspiracy trespass and conspiracy to commit criminal mischief, one felony and one misdemeanor, which would have a total maximum possible sentence of 11 years.
It's unlikely they'll get anything near the maximum sentences, but we're still nervous: this is North Dakota; a state which has been systematically trying to criminalize dissent since civil disobedience began at Standing Rock last summer. Michael and Sam are also expecting to be able to do something that Ken was not able to do in his trial: call expert witnesses to testify. We aren't ready to announce Michael and Sam's strategy or witnesses yet, but stay tuned - we are hopeful that this trial is going to cover some new ground.
Follow along on Twitter @ClimateDA, using #ClimateTrial and #ValveTurners for live-tweeting and on Facebook where we'll be doing LIVE video updates outside of the court house and written recaps throughout the days.
Michael Foster appeared Monday, Sept 11th in Cavalier, ND for his pre-trial hearing after making his way from Seattle, WA by both train and bike. Biggest news is that the State's Assistant to the Attorney General, Jonathon Byers is stepping in to aid Pembina County Prosecutor for the trial, October 2, 2017. Today it became clear that the prosecution is very motivated to keep Michael from speaking about **Why** he was compelled to shut down the Keystone Pipeline on October 11, 2016.Read more
Facebook Livestream this Saturday, 11am PST - Sept 16th
Register and Tune in https://zoom.us/webinar/register/3c55cfcbb4c8be398c34be5db4a05ad8
Paleontologist, Professor Peter Ward meets the Valve Turners Saturday, September 16th - 11am for deep conversation on how scientists and activists can communicate the existential necessity of climate action, in both word and deed.
Professor Ward has long communicated how Earth's five major mass extinctions offer a frightening window into the future we ourselves might catalyze. His standing within the scientific community comes from his skill in finding and interpreting what the fossils say about the horror of each environmental cataclysm. His gifts and energy for outreach — for communicating to the public the stark relevance of the science — is top tier.
As valve turner Leonard Higgins has said from the get-go, "If we want people to understand that this is an emergency, then we have to act like it is an emergency." By turning the emergency shut-down valve of the tar sands pipeline transiting Montana, Leonard powerfully communicated by deed.
Join the Valve Turners and author Wen Stephenson as they discuss climate direct action in this time of both monumental hope and profound doom. We'll also be following up with the valve turners about recent legal proceedings.
Wen Stephenson, an independent writer and activist, is a frequent contributor to The Nation and the author of What We're Fighting for Now Is Each Other: Dispatches From the Front Lines of Climate Justice (Beacon Press, 2015). A former editor at The Atlantic and the Boston Globe, he has written about politics and culture for many publications, including Slate, The New York Times, Grist, and the Boston Phoenix.
I posted this earlier on Facebook, and it seems to be going viral. Very happy to contribute it here to the valve turners conversation leading up to tonight's Webinar on "Climate Doom."
I've spent decades horrified by the systemic ecological collapse we are experiencing. Yesterday was the first time I could palpably feel so many of my friends experiencing at least some of this horror. It is indescribably sad, and on some level I feel fortunate to have had so much time to anguish over, and thus emotionally prepare, for what is happening all around us.
It is a fatal misconception that we have any time at all to address climate chaos (or any of the other ecological limits we are violating). Fires like the ones currently raging through the forests of the West ARE the feedback loops that put climate change irreversibly on course to get worse and worse. We are not at the brink of the cliff. We have plummeted over it. What we can try to do now is ecologically analogous to grasping a rock outcrop while already falling, like in a movie.
Valve Turner Michael Foster was convicted of felony conspiracy to commit criminal mischief and misdemeanor conspiracy trespass in October of 2017. Both sentences which could carry a maximum of 11 years imprisonment. Michael is scheduled for sentencing Tuesday, February 6th 2018 in Cavalier, North Dakota.Read more
The valve turners are going to be doing some more events this fall, online and in the Seattle area. Check 'em out!
Thursday September 7th - 6pm Pacific / 9 Eastern - ONLINE - Valve Turners conversation with author Wen Stephenson. How do we think about climate direct action in this time of both monumental hope and profound doom? Wen Stephenson is an independent journalist and climate activist, Wen Stephenson is the author of What We’re Fighting for Now Is Each Other: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Climate Justice. REGISTER
Saturday September 23rd - 6pm - Come party with the people on the front lines of climate change resistance! Dinner provided. Children welcome. Beautiful family friendly music provided by Glimmer. This is a benefit to raise funds for the Valve Turners, all donations will be doubled by an anonymous donor! Event Location: Duwamish Cohousing 6000 17th Ave SW, Seattle 98106 More information