“This is an all hands on deck moment for our climate, when we have to stand up and do what’s right. Tar sands extraction is devastating and wrong. Shutting it down is right. We all have to find ways to show the fossil fuel industry that we do not consent to their reckless destruction of our futures. The valve turners found one. Peaceful resistance and direct action are the only things that might save us.” — John Sellers, Other98
In Ken’s two (count ‘em, two!) hung juries, and conviction on one relatively minor count, judge and jury learned why Ken’s action was justified, and witnessed loving support from Ken’s community. Now Emily, Annette, Michael, and Leonard (along with two supporters and one documentarian) are going to court to argue that shutting down 15% of US oil supply was not only morally necessary, but is legally justified as they are prosecuted by the states of Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota for their action on October 11, 2016.
Trial Dates Set:
November 21st, Leonard Higgins - Montana
December 11th, Emily Johnston, Annette Klapstein, Ben Joldersma, Steve Liptay - Minnesota
The first of these trials started on January 30th in Skagit County, Washington, where Ken Ward was tried for closing a safety valve on Kinder-Morgan's TransMountain Pipeline. After three days the proceedings ended in a hung jury, where at least one of the jurors was unwilling to convict Ken despite video evidence of him taking the action, and a mis-trial was declared. Ken was tried a second time in June and was convicted of burglary on June 7th. Michael Foster and Sam Jessup stood trial in North Dakota and on Friday October 6th were convicted. Both will be sentenced January 18th.
The valve-turners took a huge risk for all of us, and we want to be there to have their back and share our love. Packing the courtroom is also going to show the judge, the jury and the media that these brave women and men aren't some lone wolves, but speak for all of us who know that we need dramatic and swift change.
Trials are notoriously difficult to plan around: trying to get the schedules of courtrooms, judges, prosectors and lawyers to line up. We haven't heard anything about Minnesota scheduling. To find out more about how to be present in the courtroom to support the valve turners when they stand trial, sign up on the appropriate RSVP page - linked from the top of this page. We'll keep you up to date as the legal calendar becomes more clear.
The Legal Arguments
Our legal team, which includes the Climate Defense Project and the Civil Liberties Defense Center in collaboration with the Climate Disobedience Center, is preparing a full fledged necessity defense, bringing high-profile expert witnesses on climate change and social change to make the case that the valve turners actions are legally justifiable.
“We are now fully immersed in the climate crisis, with the earth’s ice melting and its oceans turning ever more acid. Hence it is reasonable and necessary that people take nonviolent but increasingly firm action to try and address this emergency. Those who have acted will be considered great heroes by future citizens.”–Bill McKibben