What About Keystone South?

 Originally published by Tom Weis on Huffington Post

Obama in Cushing, OK to fast-track Keystone XL Southern Segment in March 2012You could feel it in the air during last April’s historic tipi encampment on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and the feeling is even stronger today: “We’ve got this. Keystone North is not going through.”

We cannot let up until Keystone North is vanquished, but all signs continue to point to the president nixing TransCanada’s cross-border permit. The latest flashing sign is a White House promise to veto a Keystone pipeline bill just passed by Congress.

During his recent State of the Union Address, President Obama did not mention Keystone by name. He didn’t have to. Everyone knew he was talking about Keystone XL’s northern leg when he called on Democrats and Republicans to “set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline.”

He also said “no challenge –  no challenge –  poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” For a president so clearly concerned about his climate legacy, he knows that approving Keystone North would destroy it.

There’s just one little problem. He already approved Keystone South.

Remember the 485-mile southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline the president gift-wrapped for TransCanada back in 2012? Well, TransCanada completed it about this time last year and has since used it to transport toxic tar sludge all the way from Alberta to Texas. TransCanada’s CEO, Russell Girling, boasted as much to a reporter last February:

“We just moved the first batch of Canadian oil right through the whole system from Canada right through the Gulf Coast.”

Please let that sink in for a minute.

The map above shows why Keystone South (the solid teal line at the bottom, completed in 2014) was an even bigger play for Big Oil than Keystone North (the dotted red line at the top). Linking Keystone South to Keystone 1 (the black line, built in 2010), gave TransCanada what they wanted most: a straight shot from the minefields of “Mordor” to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

With 70 percent of the capacity of Keystone North, Keystone South has the ability – even without Keystone North – to transport more than half a million barrels of toxic tar sludge daily from Canada to Texas.

In June of 2013, the president said, “Our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” Last week, the president’s own EPA informed him the pipeline would indeed cause a “significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions.” The climate test President Obama set for Keystone applies equally to Keystone North and Keystone South.

As if any more reasons were needed to shut down Keystone South, here are some:

• TransCanada’s built-to-spill Keystone South now lies buried in the backyards of pipeline fighters like David Daniel, Julia Trigg Crawford, Michael Bishop and Eleanor Fairchild, where a recent plague of earthquakes in Texas and Oklahoma could release its black venom into waterways and the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer at any time.

• Keystone South is perpetuating scorched earth extraction of tar sludge in Canada, where First Nations and the Métis are suffering what has been termed a “slow industrial genocide,” with many people dying from cancer caused by industrial heavy metal contamination of traditional foods.

• Keystone South was ruthlessly rammed through tribal and ancestral lands in Oklahoma without adequate consultation to protect sacred sites and other tribal interests.

• Keystone South’s toxic cargo will be processed in petrochemical refineries across the fence from where children play in Port Arthur and Houston, resulting in even more poison raining down on these communities of color.

It is not enough for President Obama to deny a cross-border permit for Keystone North. If he truly believes the greatest threat facing future generations is global meltdown, he must put forth a real climate action plan that includes shutting down Keystone South and all tar sludge pipelines crossing our border, and preventing the industry from establishing a beachhead in Utah’s red rocks country.

As the editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout reminded everyone in 2013: “When Obama approved what is known as the southern leg of the pipeline, the spigot was opened to transport the climate-killing tar sands oil to refineries and ports in Texas.” That spigot must now be closed.

Fortunately, President Obama is a smart and accomplished man. What he could figure out how to start, he can figure out how to stop.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/what-about-kxlsouth/

Texas Blockader Sues Police over Brutalization Suffered During Peaceful Protest

Benjamin and Shannon blockading an excavator in Wood County, Texas.

Benjamin and Shannon blockading an excavator in Wood County, Texas.

On Septmeber 25, 2012 Benjamin and Shannon locked themselves to Keystone XL construction machinery outside Winnsboro, Texas and delayed pipeline construction for most of the day. Police began using aggressive pain compliance tactics when a senior TransCanada supervisor arrived and actively encouraged it. Torture tactics included sustained chokeholds, violent arm-twisting, pepper spray, and multiple uses of tasers, all while blockaders were in handcuffs.

Immediately following a consultation with TransCanada supervisors, law enforcement handcuffed the protesters’ free hands to the excavator in a position behind their backs in stress positions, and then subjected them to repeated torture tactics. Four police officers participated while TransCanada employees stood by and watched.

For a long time since this incident Benjamin has been planning to sue the Wood County Sheriff’s Department for their brutal and unlawful behavior, and we are excited that his lawsuit is soon to be filed! Benjamin is in the last phases of raising funds for filing fees and other related expenses. The lawsuit has many parts, but it boils down to 3 basic issues:

  1. “Pain compliance” should never be used on anyone!
  2. Police should not take marching orders from corporations
  3. Tools need to be used for their intended purpose, not misused as improvised methods of torture

“Pain Compliance” is another term for torture. Even at face value, it means “we’re going to hurt you until you do what we say.” This is not how civilized people behave, as anyone who attended Kindergarden should be able to tell you. Second, the police officers in Wood County did not escalate the violence until the agents of Transcanada, a large Canadian corporation, arrived on the scene. Our police officers should not be taking marching orders from corporate middlemen who have no accountability to the general public. Third, tasers are tools for immobilizing someone who poses an immediate threat – not tools for “pain compliance” to convince protesters to stop protesting. Same can be said for pepper spray.

If you can donate to Benjamin’s legal fundraiser, please click here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/texas-police-brutality-on-nokxl-protestors-not-ok

LARGER500_LockShotHere is an account of the events as written by Benjamin in the days following his action in 2012:

My faith calls me to express my values through my acts and my relationship with others. I took part in a nonviolent direct action campaign against the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline because these extreme extraction projects always harm those already marginalized the most.

I will not allow my inaction to read as consent. That’s why I locked down to halt construction of KXL South and that’s why I’m suing Wood County for the actions of their police officers. I doubt that my treatment was the first time these officers abused those under their power but hopefully my lawsuit can help make it one of the last.

When I remember what happened, I remember the beauty first. The blue sky, the soaring hawk, the oak sapling mangled by the backhoe we’d stopped. That oak was very inspirational to us as we awaited our fate. By surviving TransCanada’s clear-cutting, it symbolized our own plans to weather the forces marshalled against us.

It was Tuesday, September the 25th. I was anchored to the back of heavy machinery with someone I’d just met. We’d both travelled to East Texas to help derail TransCanada’s massive tar sands pipeline. Climate change is a global problem, but this terribly destructive project was coming right to our backyard; how could I sit idly by?

For years now, TransCanada has been abusing eminent domain to expropriate Texans’ land for their phenomenally wasteful pipeline. Years of political lobbying had led to project delays, but had been insufficient to stop TransCanada from breaking ground. Despite multiple lawsuits, TransCanada was busy clear-cutting forests on disputed land, and so I joined TarSandsBlockade.org — a nonviolent direct action campaign dedicate to stopping the KXL Pipeline.

I joined the Tar Sands Blockade for three reasons. One: We hoped to prevent the tar sands carbon bomb from being released, with the goal of preventing catastrophic levels of climate change. Two: As a proud member of Occupy Houston, I felt I had a responsibility to help prevent a multinational company from perverting Texas law so it might misuse eminent domain for its own private gain. Three: A belief, rooted in my Unitarian Universalism, that I have a duty to assist nonviolent tactics and help demonstrate that they are a successful path to change.

Things began calmly enough. Around 10 a.m., a small group of us discovered a backhoe that was working on a path perhaps a thousand feet away from – and rapidly approaching – the trees containing our friends’ aerial blockade.

SMALL_zoomout_BunchMunchWe had a chance to delay the threat; we took it. At a run, we approached the machine. The driver stopped promptly, and Rain and I attached ourselves to the hydraulic arm at the back with a “lockbox” — in this case, a steel pipe modified so that we could latch via carabiners onto a center pin. Rain and I had known each other for less than a day, but now I can’t imagine enduring what happened without her.

TransCanada’s workers were upset when we locked ourselves onto their machine, but the situation remained verbal and stayed peaceful, if tense, for hours, until around two o’clock in the afternoon. Even after the arrival of the local police, we knew we were still in civilization; one of the TransCanada workers brought us water so quickly and quietly that the officers watching us didn’t even notice.

When things changed, they changed suddenly and with startling brutality.

It started with the arrival of TransCanada’s senior supervisor. The regular employees became scarce as the supervisor called for a huddle with the police. The huddle broke and a phalanx of officers marched on us to announce that we were under arrest. Failing to unlock immediately was resisting, which would result in additional charges and justify the officers’ use of “pain compliance.” I suppose TransCanada had grown tired of waiting.

If you can donate to Benjamin’s legal fundraiser, please click here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/texas-police-brutality-on-nokxl-protestors-not-ok

They started like schoolyard bullies – taunting us while twisting my arm behind me, and jumping on my back to put me in a choke hold.

The lieutenant asked, “Is your goal just to go to jail? You can go to jail without the pain; it’s your stubbornness that’s making us do this.”

I had to stop myself from replying, “I wish this cup would pass me by.”

I didn’t say it because I was sure they would misinterpret it as blasphemously casting myself as Jesus, but I meant it; I wished there was another way to accomplish our goals. I wasn’t looking forward to what my time with the ACLU led me to expect they would do to us. But I don’t believe in giving in to terrorism; to follow one’s moral compass in spite of extreme challenges is the way we move forward.

The lieutenant told us he understood – the state had just taken some of his land to build a freeway. I tried to explain that this was different; Transcanada was still in court to see if they even had the right to be there. Even though he admitted that he had never seen anything like this in his twenty-two years of law enforcement, I failed to get through.

Before breaking out the pepper spray, the officers handcuffed my unlocked arm to the backhoe. One officer then maneuvered my right arm so the nozzle of the can of pepper spray could be inserted into the lockbox anchoring us to the machine. Pepper spray is designed to be sprayed from a distance so the aerosol can dilute the active ingredients with air.

Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt badly at first, and I thought, “Oh, this is like peppers that gradually build up in intensity.” Then they repeated the spray on Rain’s side and I could feel it entering the cuts on my fingers.

I realized it would be a slow-building pain, and that’s when I remembered that I had known what to do when your hand is stuck in a pain-box since I’d read Herbert’s Dune as a boy; for ages I silently chanted, “Fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the little death.”

It was through a single finger each that Rain and I were linked to each other. The pepper spray made our fingers slippery, and Rain’s fingers were already numb from how our arms were twisted.  But compassion only needs a tiny connection to be more powerful than despair.

In a moment of dark humor, we discovered that we knew to hold our breath when the pepper spray was being dispersed, but the cops didn’t, so it was the aggressors who first felt the effect of it, coughing and choking. We had closed our eyes, sure that they were going to spray us in the face, but we were spared that.

The cops were surprised that we didn’t immediately let go, and they tried to joke away the wait. So when one of them said, “But Lieutenant, the pepper spray is expired!” I didn’t believe them at the time. The officers showed me the canister afterwards when we were in custody; it had expired in 2000. While the burn was building, the lieutenant assured the TransCanada supervisor he would buy a whole new crate for us protesters.

When the pepper spray failed to produce immediate compliance, they broke out the taser.

The police’s announced plan was to taser us repeatedly for increasing intervals until we detached. The older, plainclothes cop calmly explained that he was going to say “taser” three times, then engage for one second in my leg. Each repetition would be for an increased duration.

“Taser…  Taser… Taser…”


My voice in my head, quoting V for Vendetta’s famous torture sequence: “But for three years, I had roses. And apologized to no one.”

One second of intense pain takes you outside of time; nothing exists but the pain.

A taser is sold as a weapon-tool for halting controlled motion: to make someone stop. While the torture device was on, I was able to remain standing and silent, but the pain was intense. I could not have gathered the concentration required to detach the carabiner even if the pipe hadn’t twisted it out of my grasp.

I had a few seconds to clear my head, then he switched to my upper left arm – the arm where they had handcuffed me. It’s hard to describe. The world was pain, and I repeated Valerie’s quote from V for Vendetta to myself as I heard the lieutenant speculate to the TransCanada supervisor that my fat was insulating me, making it harder for the taser to “bite into the meat,” which is why it wasn’t hurting me as much as they were hoping. The pain was fluid, and by the fifth second, my left pectoral muscle was tingling. But like all things, it passed. The pain, like the fear, washed through. The taunting, however, continued.

bf rain releasedThe officers informed us that I was too “mule-headed” to be chivalrous and spare Rain the pain I had just experienced. When they moved on to torture Rain, the young Wood County deputy who had been selected to taser her was reluctant. He asked if he really had to; he interrupted his count to ask if she was sure she wouldn’t let go. I don’t know what combination of humanity and patriarchal programing was at work, but it was a notable difference from the officer who tortured me. Rain was clearly in more pain from her treatment than I was, and she has a health condition that made sustained tasering significantly more dangerous to her. Rather than have the police continue to dice with our lives, we decided to detach.

Throughout our ordeal, Rain and I were able to reassure each other by holding fingers inside our steel pipe; this human contact sustained us while we had to endure each other being tortured. It also allowed us to be sure that the decision to detach was mutual. Due to the earlier twisting of the tube and the effects of the torture, we were unable to untangle ourselves from the restraints without assistance from the cops.

As soon as we were fully in custody, the TransCanada supervisor thanked the Wood County lieutenant for “a job well done.”

The lieutenant’s reply?

“If this happens again, we’ll just skip to using pepper spray and tasing in the first 10 minutes.”

Benjamin Franklin

Unbowed. Unbent. Unbroken.

If you can donate to Benjamin’s legal fundraiser, please click here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/texas-police-brutality-on-nokxl-protestors-not-ok

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/suecops/

Blockadia on Trial: What the Jury Did Not Hear

Originally posted on Huffington Post Green


On Earth Day, April 22, 2013, I disrupted construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL Pipeline) and was arrested and charged with several offenses in Atoka County, Oklahoma. 18 months later I finally had my day in court before a jury of my peers on October 23, 2014. Although I was the only person who locked down the day I took action, I was, and remain, part of a team . I am not unique. Many have preceded me risking their safety and freedom fighting for our children’s future and I’m confident far more will follow.

Going into the trial we knew we had only about a 30 percent chance that the judge would allow us to mount our defense. As Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once said, “you will fail to make 100 percent of the goals you don’t attempt.” The chance to have a jury of my peers find me not guilty, setting a powerful precedent across the country, was absolutely worth all the perils associated with a criminal trial in a conservative Oklahoma county.

Judge Preston Harbuck had the reputation of being a prosecutor in robes. His hostility to our defense was evident from the outset and because of him the jury heard very, very little of what we had painstakingly prepared for them to hear. This is sad for a number of reasons ranging far beyond my guilt or innocence. So I will use this space to share what the jury would have heard had justice been served in that Atoka, Oklahoma courtroom.


2014-11-10-earthdaylockdown.jpgCitizens of the Jury:
I stand before you a 62-year-old father of two daughters. Becoming a father 33 years ago proved to be a profound transformation. For the first time in my life, I became an ancestor, taking my place in the river of time we call history. All of us alive today have an unbroken line of ancestors going back to the first humans who ever walked the earth. While I know only a small fraction of them, the ones I do know all did their best to leave the world in as good or better shape than it was when they enjoyed it. Many of my ancestors, like yours, risked their lives in major conflicts and fought for rights and liberties bequeathed to us with only one obligation: that we do the same, in turn, for our descendants. The debt we owe them we pay forward by protecting the future of our descendants, by looking out for our children.

This sacred and fundamental obligation defines a core responsibility that does not permit robbing resources from our children’s future. And yet this is precisely what’s happening. We are consuming resources, as much our children’s birthright as ours, with scant consideration for the devastation this will visit on our children. Nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to the “Commons” of our only atmosphere.

Scientists speak with commanding consensus and the body of knowledge, climate science, is at once sound, solid and most importantly, settled science. We can rely on it. We must act on it. Our children’s future requires nothing less. As Winston Churchill once declared, “It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.” The science is clear and calls on us to do what is required. Action is required and I took action that Earth Day in 2013.

The most compelling evidence driving me to act was Dr. James Hansen’s rock-solid conviction, based on veritable mountains of evidence that if the KXL Pipeline was built it would be “game over” for climate. Dr. Hansen is one of the foremost climate scientists on earth and I’m honored that he prepared testimony to share with you today.

Citizens of the Jury, I hope you will be given the time to read Dr. Hansen’s testimony prior to your deliberations. Let me draw your attention to his conclusion:

To allow further exploitation of Canada’s tar sands is akin to giving up, willfully ignoring the well-being of young people, future generations, and other life on Earth. It is absolutely necessary that we reverse our present course without delay in order to preserve a viable climate system for our children and their progeny.

Beyond the compelling scientific evidence the KXL Pipeline poses a colossal threat to our children’s future, I was also moved to act because I knew that every claim TransCanada, the builders of the KXL Pipeline made, was a lie. They lied about job creation: instead of tens thousands of jobs created, even the State Department admitted that there would be only about 50 permanent jobs generated and only about 3500 temporary construction jobs. Although they claimed that tar sands oil was intended for domestic U.S. markets, they would not make that claim under oath before Congress because the markets they seek are international ones. They lied about pipeline safety, dramatically understating the threat of pipeline ruptures. Hundreds of safety violations that plagued construction of the Southern leg of the KXL, inspired even the industry-friendly Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to impose new regulations on any northern leg construction should Obama approve it.

Looking beyond these facts that clearly establish that building the KXL Pipeline constitutes a violent assault on our children’s future, there is a bigger picture all citizens, parents in particular, must consider.

Bill McKibben’s article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” submitted as evidence for your consideration, makes it clear how big the problem is. Although the figures have changed since the article was written in 2012, the situation described has only gotten worse. Drawing on information from the Carbon Tracker Initiative, McKibben noted that we can afford to only burn another 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide before almost certainly triggering tipping points beyond which we can only expect civilization shattering runaway global warming. The fossil fuel industry, however, is determined to ignite 2,795 gigatons of carbon dioxide for profit, nearly five times the safe limit.

Courting the extinction of human beings and much of life on 2014-11-10-KXL_graphic.JPGearth for short term gain is a criminal enterprise of staggering and historic proportions. Resisting this attack on our children and their future shouldn’t fall to a handful of activists. In fact, a major reason I took action was to share these profound warnings, raise awareness, and help swell the numbers of those prepared to “do what is required.”

As I’m sure you can appreciate, citizens of the jury, the fossil fuel industry is one of the most powerful on earth. Using only a fraction of its vast wealth, this industry now effectively controls most governments at the federal, state and local level. Here in Oklahoma, Senator Inhofe received over $1.5 million from the industry and is one of their leading champions. He dismisses the honest work of thousands of scientists across the planet claiming instead that they’re engaged in the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated” on the American public. Oklahoma’s other Senator and Atoka’s member of congress have also received substantial sums from the industry and, not surprisingly, share Inhofe’s view.

In fact, members of the jury, this industry isn’t content to only dominate all the organs of governance, they have created a veritable climate denial industry that has polluted our nation’s media with their falsehoods and confused enough of our fellow citizens to forestall anything like the unity we must have to make the bold changes in our economy and culture that the climate crisis calls for. During voir dire [interviewing the jury], I couldn’t help but note how many of your harbored uncertainties about the overwhelming scientific consensus I felt compelled to act upon. Please consider this proof positive for the claims of industry influence just shared with you.

More evidence for the industry’s tremendous influence nationally is the fact that during the last presidential contest, neither candidate was ever asked any questions about or volunteered any discussion of the clear, present, and mounting danger posed by the climate crisis.

While President Obama has, of late, spoken strongly about the need to address Climate Change it is hard to take him seriously on this score. Revelations from Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks reveal that, under Obama, NSA assets were deployed at the 2009 Climate Conference in Copenhagen, not to help the world arrive at a historic agreement to reduce carbon emissions. On the contrary, they were used to ensure that U.S. corporate interests wouldn’t suffer from any outcomes. It’s hard not to agree with one commentator who regarded it as epic treachery.

So with the media silenced into sheepishness, the government’s response ranging between outright complicity and “epic treachery,” and the general population largely ignorant about the truth regarding the KXL Pipeline, nor the mounting threat of global warming, I felt compelled to take direct action. I felt compelled to bolt my body to a piece of heavy equipment on Earth Day and tell the world that this threat to our children’s future must be stopped.

I imagine some of you jurors might find yourselves becoming persuaded that the threat is serious but are concerned by the prosecutors claim that I broke the law and must be punished. I ask you to consider the case where someone breaks into a car to save the life of an unattended child overheating in a car. This isn’t hypothetical. On July 15 in Katy, Texas this happened. Two children were overheating on a sweltering day in a locked car. Several people on the scene didn’t hesitate to break windows to free the children. No charges were sought or pressed and video taken of the event shows that considerable force was used taking out several windows so the children could be freed.

In the unlikely event that charges had been brought, defendants could have easily claimed what is known as a “necessity defense.” Under a necessity defense if someone commits a lesser crime to stop a greater one, they are innocent under the law. So whatever crimes might’ve occurred freeing the children were far smaller than the crime of negligent homicide that could have been pressed had onlookers done nothing and the children perished.

Jurors, I stand here before you as someone who understands that our children are threatened by climate change. I can see clearly that powerful corporations, and their purchased politicians are conspiring to prevent effective action that might save them. Just as I wouldn’t hesitate to smash a car window to free an imperiled child, I felt compelled to act.

DSCN3998In Oklahoma a necessity defense requires that the harm be imminent and action required immediately. As for imminence, we need go no further than the most recent National Climate Assessment (NCA) which makes clear that people are already suffering, even dying, in this country and across the world, because of climate changes already under way. Its pages also reveal that human activity is the largest and most significant driver of these changes.

The prosecutor might argue that the worst of climate change impacts are decades away giving me and others concerned plenty of time to respond. Jurors, I would give worlds for that to be true. What drives my sense of urgency, beyond the science, is that I understand the tremendous difficulties associated with this challenge and have some idea how long it will take. My short answer is that it will take far longer than the time needed to punch out a car window.

A major implication of the Carbon Tracker Initiative study mentioned earlier is that in order to have any chance to save a habitable atmosphere for our children, about 80% of the proven reserves claimed by oil rich governments like Saudi Arabia or Russia, not to mention the boards of directors of powerful corporations like Exxon, Shell, BP, and Chevron must be left in the ground! Estimates vary, but we’re talking about $10 to $20 trillion worth of assets which “We the People” must compel current owners to abandon. Not only do the vast sums involved guarantee a very big fight will occur.

What I lose sleep over, citizens of the jury, is knowing that the science tells us we don’t have decades to work with. We have very little time, far too much of which has been squandered, and I refuse to delay taking bold, decisive action for our children’s for even a minute. We do not have a moment to spare.

Returning to the matter at hand, my counsel, Doug Parr, has already demonstrated to you that the prosecution has failed to make its case that I was guilty of obstructing a public official on either count. I will go further. I argue that I wasn’t breaking the law that day – I was enforcing it!

In American law there exists the concept of the “Public Trust Doctrine,” whereby the state serves as trustee on behalf of present and future generations of U.S. citizens. The government has an obligation to protect public natural resources on which we all depend. In its role as trustee the state has a strictly defined “fiduciary duty” to the citizen beneficiaries. Trustees of public commons, like our atmosphere, have to act solely in the citizens’ interest, a duty they must discharge with “the highest duty of care.” Nowhere in this doctrine, which has been described as “the slate upon which all constitutions and laws are written,” is any trustee allowed to harm their trust no matter if rich and powerful corporations bid them to do so. Instead, they are required to solely promote citizens interests and ensure, according to Dr. Mary Wood, “the sustained resource abundance necessary for a society’s endurance.”

Let me close by declaring that the fact that TransCanada was permitted to lay pipe in the ground where I chose that day to obstruct their construction efforts is proof that both the state of Oklahoma and the United States government were in dereliction of their obligations under the Public Trust. I was not in dereliction of my duty, my sacred obligation as a parent, and stand before you proudly innocent of the crimes I’ve been charged with.


[On October 23, 2014, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on both counts of obstructing a public official. Significantly, they imposed no jail time and only an unspecified fine. The prosecutor requested $250 for each of two counts, but Judge Harbuck imposed the maximum fine of $500 per count and imposed an additional $545.50 worth of court costs. What the judge didn't know was that supporters had already raised funds to cover all fines and costs before court began that day. Together with the jury's very light sentencing the whole trial experience felt like a victory.]

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/jurytrial/

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