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Group plans peaceful protest during DeChristopher trial

By John Hollenhorst | Posted - Feb. 15, 2010 at 4:06 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Environmental activists are trying to put Salt Lake City at center stage in the debate over global warming. They're inviting people from around the world for protests and street theater during a highly-watched criminal trial next month.

The trial is for Tim DeChristopher, a University of Utah student arrested in 2008 for disrupting a BLM auction of oil and gas leases. His supporters rallied last year when DeChristopher was indicted, now they're planning an even more ambitious event.

Tim DeChristopher
Tim DeChristopher

The group, Peaceful Uprising, is planning marches, protests and a mock trial with theatrical elements when the trial begins next month. They're spreading the word on the Internet, hoping to attract activists from around the world.

Four well-known environmental voices have lent their names to the invitation: authors Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, and Terry Tempest Williams, as well as NASA scientist James Hansen.

Organizers say their strategy stems from the judge's decision prohibiting DeChristopher from using the trial as a forum for the global warming issue.

"The judge said if DeChristopher wants to make this case, he needs to do it in the public sphere and not in the courtroom. So we intend to do that," says Peaceful Uprising activist Ashley Anderson. "When we take on the fossil fuel industry and its interests in a court, then we have to call out the crimes its committed and the consequences of its actions; and since that's not being allowed for what we believe are political reasons in the courtroom, we're going to have to do it ourselves outside."

The group says it's been getting calls and web hits from all over the country, and even from Europe. Members are hoping to turn the DeChristopher trial into an international media event.

DeChristopher's trial is scheduled to begin in federal court on March 15.

E-mail: jhollenhorst@ksl.com

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