What will protect citizens against corporate might?

A letter from Emily Lardner to the Community:

My son Sam Jessup will be sentenced in North Dakota in February for driving Michael Foster to a valve site so that he could turn off the pipeline bringing Alberta tar sands oil to the US. Sam filmed it. He’s been convicted of conspiracy charges because the action was planned in advance, and the prosecutor argued that Sam knew what Michael was going to do. I expect that Sam will be sentenced to a period of incarceration, in addition to living with the felony and misdemeanor charges he’s been saddled with. 

Prior to sentencing, the “victim”–the oil company TransCanada—was allowed to express its “feelings” about the crimes committed against it. In that letter, excerpted below, TransCanada asks the judge to incarcerate both Sam and Michael in order to deter other protestors. They argue that the action was coordinated. They also cite Michael Foster’s quoting of Ghandi as a sign that he lacks remorse for his action. They imply that Sam and Michael’s aim to get the climate necessity defense admitted was delusional.

TransCanada’s request follows the trajectory laid out by ALEC (described in the January WIP), to criminalize protests against the fossil fuel industry. It’s consistent with the “economic terrorism” bill re-introduced by Senator Doug Erickson this session in WA State. At the heart of the matter is whether the right of corporations to profit from fossil fuel extraction and production trumps our collective right to do all we can to stop it. Right now, the fossil fuel industry is winning. 

Coordinated legislative actions to criminalize climate protests are supported by ALEC’s “fill in the blank” templates so even newly elected legislators can draft comparable actions in other states, counties and cities. All this activity is funded of course, directly and indirectly, by the corporate interests that benefit from oil extraction in all its forms.  

Sam and Michael and the other valve turners and support people are present day Davids, fighting Goliath. At this moment in history, Goliath is likely to walk off the field and Sam and Michael will be put in prison. 

What are the rest of us going to do now? 

With love and respect and deep deep gratitude to Sam and Michael and the others.