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Activist Tim DeChristopher Found Guilty, Faces 10 Years in Prison After Trying to Save Public Lands From Oil and Gas Companies

Tim DeChristopher has been found guilty of bidding in a BLM auction on land he did not have the money to pay for.

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And then, there were 25 people in the last 3 years that have won leases without being able to pay for them, who had a profit motive, and none of them have been prosecuted. It seems that they are coming down particularly hard on me. So my judge has the opposite position of the judge in the Ratcliffe trials.  

TG: Where did the idea for your BLM auction action come from?

TD: A BLM staffer asked if I would like to be a bidder. I said, yes I would. So they signed me up. It was easier than signing up on eBay.  

TG: Did you have previous concerns about the environment?

TD: Yes, I was concerned about the state of the environment and how little people were doing. I was building up the commitment to do something to try to resist the climate crisis. I felt that writing letters and riding my bike was not enough. Part of the process was like a mourning process for my future.  

TG: What did you do before your undergraduate studies in economics?

TD: Before my undergraduate studies, I worked with Kids in the Wilderness. And what I was seeing there was that just about every kid was having a problem adjusting to society and that couldn't be a problem with human nature, it had to be a flaw with society and not the other way around. And I realized that I could be more effective changing the fundamental flaws. And I saw that most of those fundamental decisions were based on economics or used economics as a system.  

I certainly did not see climate change as an environmental issue. I don't see it that way now. I actually think that's why we fail to address climate change. Climate change is a human rights issue, an economics issue, a social justice issue. The issue with climate change is to protect human civilization.  

We need to look at ourselves to address climate change, rather than appealing to power (make phone calls and write letters). Rather than appeal to power, we need to assert power -- because we have the power to enact social change.  

The overwhelming message that we hear from the climate change movement is about who we are as consumers, but that's what got us into this mess in the first place. But we actually have the power to address climate change by taking action to address our needs. We demand perfection of ourselves as consumers but have far lower standards for ourselves as citizens.  

TG: Are you asking people to come to Salt Lake City?

TD: Yes, there's a " Countdown to Uprising Empowerment Summit." It begins on Friday, February 25, 2011. There will be workshops, concerts, art, demonstrations, speakers, theater, non-violent direction action training.


Tina Gerhardt is an academic and journalist. Her writing has appeared in Grist, the Huffington Post, In These Times and the Nation.

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