Tim DeChristopher released:
The Letterman Interview
Tim DeChristopher is an American climate activist and co-founder of the environmental group Peaceful Uprising. On December 19, 2008 he protested a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction of 116 parcels of public land in Utah's formerly protected redrock country, by successfully bidding on 14 parcels of land (22,500 acres) for $1.8 million with no intention to pay for them. DeChristopher was removed from the auction by federal agents, taken into custody, and questioned. DeChristopher served 21 months in prison, from July 2011 through April 2013.
The U.S. Attorney's office issued a memorandum addressing DeChristopher's case that stated, "To be sure, a federal prison term here will deter others from entering a path of criminal behavior." DeChristopher responded to this statement during his court address:
"The certainty of this statement not only ignores the history of political prisoners, it ignores the severity of the present situation. Those who are inspired to follow my actions are those who understand that we are on a path toward catastrophic consequences of climate change. They know their future, and the future of their loved ones, is on the line. And they know we are running out of time to turn things around. The closer we get to that point where it's too late, the less people have to lose by fighting back. The power of the Justice Department is based on its ability to take things away from people. The more that people feel that they have nothing to lose, the more that power begins to shrivel. The people who are committed to fighting for a livable future will not be discouraged or intimidated by anything that happens here today.
And neither will I. I will continue to confront the system that threatens our future. Given the destruction of our democratic institutions that once gave citizens access to power, my future will likely involve civil disobedience. Nothing that happens here today will change that. I don't mean that in any sort of disrespectful way at all, but you don't have that authority. You have authority over my life, but not my principles. Those are mine alone."
Saying they had been rushed into auction with insufficient environmental and scientific review, the Interior Department cancelled many of the leases shortly after the auction and a subsequent court injunction.