By Ben Jervey, GOOD Magazine
KEN WARD NEVER DENIED THAT HE BROKE THE LAW. Facing a possible 20 years in prison for taking bolt cutters to an oil company’s property and manually shutting down a pipeline that funnels tar sands crude to refineries in Anacortes, Washington, Ward showed the jury a video of exactly how he did it. How he cut the chain on the pipeline’s valve wheel and closed it down. Despite the uncontested facts of the case, and the fact that the presiding judge had denied Ward the use of a “necessity defense” that would legally justify his otherwise illegal actions, the jurors were unable to come to unanimous agreement. A mistrial. Today, Ward walks free awaiting a retrial.
Cross posted from the 350Seattle blog
On October 11, 2016, my husband Ben was among those supporting the 5 activists who shut down all five tar sands pipelines into the US in an action called #ShutItDown. Theirs was an unprecedented act of climate direct action, and the biggest coordinated move on U.S. energy infrastructure ever undertaken by environmental protesters. Ben faces up to 5 years in prison (the people who actually turned the valves face up to 21 years). We’re in the waiting period, with ears ready for trial dates and lots of time for reflecting…
Many of my friends have had serious and loving questions for me. Why would Ben and you take this risk? What will you do if he goes to jail for a spell? Why civil disobedience? What good do you think the action will do? What’s the impact? Why does the Necessity Defense matter?
And then there are the questions I ask myself: Does the positive impact of the action outweigh the consequences? How do we organize to make mass actions commonplace? Does this action honor and integrate with the indigenous rights movement? With the immigrants rights crisis? With all the fucking crises? How do we use direct actions as flash points to move people closer to political engagement and radical action? Is my phone a listening device now? No, really—right now?Read more
They didn’t look like heroes.
But the so-called “valve turners” — five climate activists who got themselves arrested on Oct. 11 when they broke into oil company control stations in four states and simultaneously shut off pipelines carrying Canadian crude into the United States — got a heroes’ welcome from a Corvallis audience Saturday night.
Today, the judge in Michael's and Sam's case dropped their felony "reckless endangerment" charges (for Michael, it had been both reckless endangerment and conspiracy to reckless endangerment; for Sam, it had been only the conspiracy charge). Those charges apparently require "extreme indifference" to human life, and she said that burden wasn't met. They do retain misdemeanor reckless endangerment charges. And they still have misdemeanor trespass (and conspiracy to trespass) charges.
Michael still has a felony "criminal mischief" charge as well as a felony conspiracy to commit criminal mischief; Sam has the latter only. But these charges require the state to prove that there was significant damage...so the long and short of it is that while their legal troubles are not over, it now seems notably less likely they will spend years in prison.
So: wow. And let me just say too....Mike's & Sam's lack of extreme indifference to human life....is why they were there that day.
Onward we go!Read more
Cross-Posted from the Climate Disobedience Center
On March 19th I delivered the sermon at Northshore United Church of Christ in Woodinville, Washington. Here's the text, and you can click on more to find the video.
Good morning everyone, and thank you for inviting me here to speak with you. I haven’t given a sermon in over a decade so I did some research, because I want to do a good job for you all today: I googled “bad sermons.”
Fascinating, what’s being preached out there. I highly recommend “The Top 20 Worst Christian Sermons.” My favorite is Pastor Larry Brown. I won’t even try to do a South Carolina accent, but here’s Paster Brown ...
“People come to me and they say Brother Brown! The television; it’s bringing an unGodly worldly atmosphere into our home, but there’s nothing I can do about it!” And TV preacher Pastor Brown says, “Yes there is!” and he hauls out a fire ax and proceeds to smash a big screen television on stage.
There’s something both delightful and surreal in watching a TV preacher smash a TV on TV.
I don’t have a lot of agreement with Paster Brown’s theology, but I surely relate to Pastor Brown’s dilemma. How do you challenge the system of predominate values while living within the system that needs to be changed?Read more
As more people have learned about the valve turners actions in October 2016, we realized that it might be helpful to lay out some more of our thinking about why we did this action in this particular way. There are several layers, and in a new piece on the website goes through a bunch of them.
Why go to trial?
Why target the tar sands?
Why not lock-down to the valves?
Check it out, share with you friends. We've left the comment thread open, and would love to hear what you have to add. What did we miss? What questions do you have that are unanswered? What does this sort of strategy look like for the future of our movement?
The valve turners are touring colleges and universities around Puget Sound in April.
Come hear why disrupting the status quo is imperative to our civilization’s survival and why civil disobedience is the most powerful force available to citizens now that all legal, incremental and reasonable efforts at averting climate catastrophe have been exhausted.
Through creative conflict we can force the public to wake, think, and challenge corrupt authority. Every life on earth depends on our willingness to do the right thing - Right Now
4/19 - Bellevue College, 10:30am
4/20 - Seattle Central, 12pm
4/20 - University of Puget Sound, 6pm, Tahoma Room, Thomas Hall
Reposted from EcoWatch 2/10/17. Ken Ward's re-trial begins June 5th in Skagit County, Washington.
Last week, a Skagit County, Washington jury failed to reach a verdict in my trial on charges of burglary and sabotage for closing the TransMountain pipeline as part of the ShutItDown climate direct action, which disrupted all five pipelines carrying Canadian tar sands oil into the U.S. last October.
The trial itself was very short, barely two days long, because there was no disagreement on the facts of the case, because my proposed necessity defense was not allowed by order of the presiding judge (so our expert witnesses on climate science and energy policy did not take the stand) and because my own testimony was sharply limited in scope.
On the stand, I told the jury my own story, about working for decades on the staff of public interest and environmental organizations where we treated climate change as merely one among many policy issues and about the rude awakening I received after reading two seminal papers, Bill Hare's, 1997 Greenpeace International report The Carbon Logic and Dr. James Hansen's 2005 A Slippery Slope.
The tar sands valve turners are speaking across the west coast and planning an east coast tour in the future. Check out our event listing on our Facebook page for more details about these events. See you out there!
Oregon Mini-tourEugene, OR - Friday February 24th 6:30-8:30 PM - First United Methodist Church, Sponsored by 350 Eugene