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.
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.
Ken Ward with his legal team Ralph Hurvitz (L) and Lauren Regan
Looking steadily at the jurors she summoned Edmund Burke, reminding this jury of Ken’s peers that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” And among the jurors there were several assenting head nods. “This is not your ordinary criminal case,” the judge, prosecutor, and defense repeated again and again. And as the fullness of the case set over the jury, one then another would sneak a measured peek at Ken and his supporters.
Evidence was admitted, the finest among it, Lindsey Grayzel’s loosely cut footage of Ken the morning of October 11th. Again the morning sky and serene, purposeful gait. The singing of the valve on that still morning as Ken turns the valve steadily, again, again. Ken waiting in his safety vest for the officer’s arrival.
“Why are you here?”
“To turn down this valve here and stop this pipeline.”
“As an activist?”
The sunflowers Ken left chained to the valve again made an appearance, the officer smiling along with the pageantry of identifying these dried flowers.
“In the other burglary cases you have investigated, is it typical or atypical for the person you are investigating to wait for the police to come?” co-defense attorney Ralph Hurvitz asked the witness.
“Is it typical or atypical for the person who did the burglary to leave flowers behind.”
“Atypical,” responds the officer, again with a smile on his face.
The defense will continue with their last witness Tuesday morning and then Ken will take the stand. Please join us if you can, 9am tomorrow, Tuesday June 6th at Skagit Superior Court, 205 W. Kincaid, Mount Vernon, WA 98273.