Two years ago today, the valves were turned and the flow of Canadian tar sands crude oil stopped, for nearly a day. The Valve Turners demonstrated for that day, a different future. It was the most beautiful, hopeful thing: a reminder that the flow of oil can be stopped; a reminder that we can change course; that we can step forward into a different future.
Yesterday, after a wholly tumultuous week, Valve Turners, Annette and Emily, appeared on Democracy Now! alongside one of the world's preeminent climate scientists, Dr. James Hansen, and Climate Defense Project attorney Kelsey Skaggs.
All three parts of the full uncut interview are are now available:
It has been a long, emotional week. Three days before trial, we were bitterly disappointed when the Judge appeared to eviscerate our case by prohibiting all of our expert witnesses from giving testimony. Then, at the last minute, some of them -- including a health professional, a climate scientist and a pipeline safety expert -- were back in. And then the biggest surprise of all: Our lawyer files a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the prosecutor failed to provide sufficient evidence that the Valve Turners had damaged a pipeline. And the judge agrees.
The Valve Turners damaged a chain and a padlock, he said. They did not damage a pipeline, and the state had provided no evidence that they had. Case dismissed.
We were stunned, baffled, unsure what to think. There were hugs, tears, relief, and disappointment in almost equal measures. Our friends had so dearly wanted to tell the jury the story of why shutting down tar sands pipelines is necessary. And they never got that chance.
And now we are heading home. As we do so, driving through the long, open roads of Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, we know two things. We know that White Privilege likely played a role in getting our friend's charges dropped; that where the Valve Turners are coming home, many activists of color and Indigenous activists would not have got off so lightly. We know that while our friends have had their charges dropped many activists from Standing Rock are being sentenced to jail and extraordinarily punitive sentences.
And we know one other thing. Now, more than ever -- even more than two years ago -- we need climate disobedience.
Nicky and Alec