April 21, 2013 - Tim DeChristopher, the climate justice activist who disrupted a BLM Oil and Gas lease auction in December 2008 has served his sentence and is scheduled for release on April 21, the day before Earth Day. Celebrations around the country are scheduled for Earth Day, April 22, along with screenings of the documentary film, Bidder 70.
On December 19, 2008 Tim DeChristopher disrupted a highly disputed Utah BLM Oil and Gas lease auction, effectively safeguarding thousands of acres of pristine Utah land that were slated for oil and gas leases. Not content to merely protest outside, Tim entered the auction hall and registered as bidder #70. He outbid industry giants on land parcels (which, starting at $2 an acre, were adjacent to national treasures like Canyonlands National Park), winning 22,000 acres of land worth $1.7 million before the auction was halted.
Two months later, incoming Interior Secretary Ken Salazar invalidated the auction because the BLM had not followed its own rules regarding these parcels. DeChristopher, however, was indicted on two federal felonies with penalties of up to 10 years in prison and $750,000 in fines. After two years and nine postponements, his trial began on February 28, 2011. Outside the courtroom, hundreds rallied in solidarity with Tim. Inside, Judge Dee Benson disallowed every defense his lawyers put forth. After a five-day trial, DeChristopher was found guilty.
On July 26, 2011, Tim was sentenced to two years in federal prison with a 10,000.00 fine, and taken immediately from the courtroom in chains.
On April 21, 2013, Tim will complete his sentence and be released.
Joining in Solidarity
Tim first came to the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City in January 2009 to speak about his action at the BLM auction. He returned in 2010 and 2011, prior to his incarceration. It was at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival that Tim met filmmakers Beth and George Gage, who subsequently made the film, Bidder 70, about non-violent civil disobedience as told through Tim's story. Bidder 70 won both the Spirit of Activism award and the People's Choice Award at Wild and Scenic 2013. He has many friends and supporters in this area.
To celebrate locally, there will be a screening of Bidder 70 at the N Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center on the San Juan Ridge on Monday, April 22 at 6 PM. Q&A with Tim DeChristopher streaming live from Salt Lake City will follow the film. After that, the San Juan Ridge Taxpayer's Association will give an update on the proposed San Juan Ridge goldmine, with a sneak preview of a new documentary about the impacts of the mine on the Ridge community.
The local event is presented by Finding the Good Traveling Semester, whose students attended and reported on Tim's trial in Salt Lake City in 2011. Students from that time will be present to answer questions. For more information and details about this event, see the Finding the Good facebook page and the YubaNet calendar.
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