Ken trial update: mistrial on the charge of Sabotage, Guilty of Burglary

Supporters convened at Skagit County Courthouse at 9am Wednesday morning to wait. A little after eleven the attorneys were alerted that the jurors were deadlocked on the count of Criminal Sabotage but had a decsion on the other charge. From there, things moved quickly. Ken and supporters convened in the courtroom and the jurors were brought out.

“Is there a reasonable chance that you could reach a verdict on sabotage within a reasonable amount of time?”

“I don’t think so.”

So the judge declared mistrial on the charge of Criminal Sabotage and then prompted the court reporter to read the verdict for the charge of Burglary, second degree: “Guilty.” While we hoped that this jury would recognize the extraordinary power that they had to declare mistrial, this conviction was welcomed as a good outcome. Ken expressed relief that this part is, at last, over and now he can move on to appeal.

 

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Second Day of Ken's Trial

Today ended much like day two of the last trial, with total surprise and hope. The jury did not come to a verdict today and will continue deliberation in the morning. The courtroom was fabulously packed today. Packed. And while we welcome those that feel called to join us tomorrow in waiting, there is no need to fill the courtroom tomorrow, Wednesday June 6th.

The day began with a single witness from the prosecution, the fellow living in the residence adjacent to the Valve-turning site and then the prosecution rested. Ken Ward then took the stand and testified for an hour and a half about his state of mind, effectively a back-door necessity defense where Ken and his attorneys presented the key climate science that impacted his accelerating urgency to directly act as well as his professional history and contributions that culminated in the realization that direct action is the most effective way to bring climate catastrophe to the public consciousness.

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First Day of Ken's Trial

This morning in Skagit County, Washington, a jury was selected to re-try Ken Ward for shutting down Kinder-Morgan's TransMountain pipeline in October 2016: the first of four trials for the valve turners who closed off 15% of the US daily oil supply.

If you are just tuning in to this inspiring story of citizen climate action, please be sure to sign up for email updates, and follow on Facebook and Twitter. And you can read more about the action.

Today the courtroom was lively with big hearted supporters. The jury selection wrapped up by noon and opening statements began fresh after lunch. The prosecutor’s brief opening was followed by a lyrical opening by Lauren Regan, who managed to describe the extraction and transport of tar sands, map the horror of imminent climate catastrophe, lay a framework for the necessity defense, and illuminate intersections with corporate greed, all before an objection.

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East Coast Tour

It's finally official, the valve turners (at least some of them!) are touring the East Coast June 1-4th! Spread the word and come out to see us. Click on the links for more information.

Philadelphia

Thursday June 1st, 6PM - Circle of Hope 2007 Frankfort Ave.

Co-hosted by EDGE, 350 Philly and Resist Sonoco PA, Minnesota valve-turner Annette Klapstein will be joined by film maker Steve Liptay, who is facing charges for documenting the closure of the 2 Enbridge pipelines in Minnesota, and Jay O'Hara who worked the "command center" on action day.

New York

Saturday June 3rd, 7:30PM - Mayday Space, 176 St Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn

Valve Turner Emily Johnston will catch up with us and Annette and Steve will be joined by Emmy-award winning film maker Deia Schlosberg, who was arrested documenting the action in North Dakota. Jay will be your moderator.

Boston

Sunday June 4th, 7PM - First Church UU, 6 Eliot St, Jamaica Plain

In Boston, the JP Forum will host Annette, Emily, and Jay  - moderated by Marla Marcum, director of the Climate Disobedience Center. 

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Emily Johnston's sermon at Northlake UU

This is my first sermon, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I ramble a little. 

I know that a good sermon should have a story in it, so I’ve tried to do that. But I also feel a real responsibility to convey not just a little bit about my own journey, but about what I think the world needs from all of us right now.

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What Can I Do About Climate Change? Leonard Higgins On Shutting Down The Tar Sands Pipelines

Leonard Higgins goes to trial in Montana for shutting down the Spectra Express pipeline on November 21st.



Necessity Denial

Yesterday Judge Rickert, presiding over the prosecution of Ken Ward in Skagit County, Washington for shutting down the Trans Mountain Pipeline, denied Ken's appeal to use the necessity defense at his retrial May 22nd. We released the following Press Release this morning. Take a look for more information about the state of legal proceedings in Washington, Minnesota and Montana.


We Need Climate Disobedience Now—Here’s How To Get Away With It

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.

 

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On Risk, Anxiety, & Reward

Cross posted from the 350Seattle blog

Risk:

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?

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