This week is not starting as we had hoped.
The truth is, we’re reeling here in Bagley. Three days before trial, the Court has threatened to eviscerate our case by preventing many of our expert witnesses from testifying. And this is after two rounds of appeals where the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld their right to a necessity defense, and the Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the decision.
Our legal team, the defendants, and the expert witnesses are all equally stunned: Emily, Annette, and Ben’s decision to shut down the emergency valves on Enbridge’s Line 4 and Line 67 was rooted in their understanding of climate science and the role of civil disobedience in bringing about social change. Yet now, the Court is going to prevent the jury from hearing testimony from the experts whose careers are dedicated to the science of climate change, the study of lawful alternatives, and the academic field of social change.
The jury will, in other words, be prevented from hearing the evidence required to make an informed decision on whether or not the Valve Turners actions were necessary.
But still, we are hopeful.
Emily, Annette, and Ben are still allowed to argue the necessity of their actions. They will speak to the climate emergency, to the failure of our society to address it, and to the ability of civil disobedience to provoke rapid change in society. This is important.
Together, our three friends have the combined experience of decades worth of climate change activism. They have founded organizations, lobbied politicians, written letters and op-eds, drafted and delivered petitions, spoke at marches and rallies, given lectures at universities and in high school classrooms. They carry a lot of wisdom ― they may not be climate scientists, Harvard law professors, or Princeton social science scholars, as their planned expert witnesses are, but they are smart as hell and ready to present their own knowledge of the necessity to act.
The next few days we are looking forward to standing with our friends as they bravely hold the torch of truth high, illuminating the dusty shadows of our broken legal system.
We’ll be sending out daily email updates, and you can also follow Climate Direct Action on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our trial blog for all the latest twists and turns from the trial.
With bold, unyielding hope,
Nicky Bradford and Alec Connon