After four and a half hours of deliberation, the Skagit County jury returned to the courtroom yesterday with a split verdict: valve turner Ken Ward is guilty of burglary in the 2nd degree, but the jury hung on the question of sabotage. Ken will be sentenced June 23nd. This is not, however, the end of the story.
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After the verdict Ken was unbowed: "I relish the opportunity to return to Mount Vernon and retry the case with a full necessity defense when we win on appeal." It was clear, from talking with jurors following the verdict, that members of the jury were looking for a legal way to find Ken not guilty. There is, of course, an appropriate defense that could allow that: a necessity defense. Ken and his legal team are preparing to appeal Judge Rickert's denial of the necessity defense.
We need your help to make that happen.
This trial, and the valve turners cases together, are a bold attempt to build a robust movement of climate dissidents who put their bodies and everyday lives on the line demanding the change we need to adequately address the climate emergency. These trials, rather than being obscure legal arguments, are an opportunity to open the floodgates of a nonviolent wave of climate disobedience.
Ken remarked from the stand Tuesday how he had seen climate politics change: "What [was] clearly a matter of geophysical reality was becoming a matter of partisan debate." The valve turners action, and their arguments in court, are an attempt to put morality back at the center of this debate.
Across the country, with the US withdrawl from Paris, it is clear that a new strategy is needed on climate: one the lifts up the humanity of the crisis upon us, call citizens to their highest ideals, draws upon the tradition of dissent in this country, and empowers people to reclaim their agency in this time of fossil fuel and corporate dominance of our government and institutions. In short: a strategy that goes beyond politics.
With Leonard Higgins' trial on July 18th and Michael Foster and Sam Jessup's on October 2nd, Let's move that vision forward together. Please donate what you can today.
Thank you so much for your support over the past eight months.