We spend the hour with Tim DeChristopher who is most known for his action as “Bidder 70” to stop the illegal sale of public lands for oil and gas. For that act he served 21 months in prison. DeChristopher continues to work on climate justice with front line groups and youth. He also works to support those who are preparing for nonviolent civil resistance and those who are going to trial or their actions. He is currently studying at Harvard Divinity School. We talk about climate justice, how to shift power, electoral politics and more.
Listen live at 11 am Eastern here:
Relevant articles and websites:
Why Tim Dechristopher went to Prison for His Protest by Bill Moyers
Tim DeChristopher is a climate justice activist and co-founder of the environmental group Peaceful Uprising. Tim was born in West Virginia and grew up in Pittsburgh. He moved to Utah in 2005 where he worked as a wilderness guide for troubled and at-risk youth. His involvement in this program strengthened his already strong respect for the natural world, and led him to question a political and economic system that concentrates wealth and power in the hands of a privileged few, ostracizing the rest of society. This led Tim to pursue obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Utah in 2009.
On December 19, 2008, Tim disrupted a highly disputed oil and gas lease auction of 116 parcels of public land in Southern Utah’s red rock country. Invited to register as a bidder up on his entry, Tim became Bidder 70, pushing prices from $2/acre up to $240/acre and ultimately winning over $1.8 million in land parcels. Upon review of the parcels in question, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar dismissed the auction, declaring that the BLM had cut corners and broken many of its own rules. But DeChristopher was still indicted on two charges of felony, and after 3 years of delayed trial dates, was found guilty on both counts and sentenced to serve two years in Federal Prison. Tim’s action garnered a great deal of media and public attention, and catalyzed an overwhelming influx of support and applause for his creative, effective, and nonviolent act of civil disobedience, which ultimately safeguarded thousands of acres of Utah public lands.
Tim’s bold act, coupled with his personal charisma and the gravity of his motivation, brought enthusiastic activists out of the Utah woodwork who began the climate justice organization Peaceful Uprising; a group dedicated to defending a livable future through non-violent, direct action. While Tim awaited trial, he ran a candidate for Utah’s 2nd Congressional district by posting a Craigslist ad that garnered national attention and challenged Utah’s “blue-dog” incumbent, Jim Matheson. As a keynote at Powershift 2011, Tim called on 10,000 students to take action, and led the march on the occupation of the Washington DC’s Department of the Interior the following day. Released on April 21, 2013 after serving 21 months in Federal Prison, Tim does not regret his action, and is currently attending Harvard Divinity School to pursue a degree in Unitarian ministry.