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Eco-activist who blocked BLM auction in Utah is convicted

A federal jury in Salt Lake City on Thursday convicted environmental activist Tim DeChristopher of two felony counts for using bogus bids to block the auction of 22,000 of federal land near national parks in southern Utah.

The jury deliberated for five hours before reaching its verdict. DeChristopher, 29, had infiltrated the Bureau of Land Management's auction in December 2008 as a protest against the move in the waning days of the Bush administration to open up the land to oil and gas exploration. He bid nearly $1.8 million for the 13 parcels with no ability to pay for them.

Weeks later a federal judge blocked the sale and the new Obama administration pulled the parcels from the auction block, contending their sale was improper. But the U.S. attorney's office still filed charges against DeChristopher, contending he took civil disobedience a step too far. He could face up to 10 years in prison when he is later sentenced.

Thursday afternoon, U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen praised the verdict in a statement. "We recognize that individuals have deeply held opinions when it comes to the use and management of our public lands," she said. "As citizens of this country, we are free to hold and express these differing views. However, there are ways to express these opinions and advocate for change without violating the law, disrupting open public processes, and causing financial harm to the government and other individuals."

Supporters kept a steady vigil outside the federal courthouse during the three-day trial. DeChristopher was unrepentant when he emerged after the verdict.

"We now know I’ll have to go to prison," DeChristopher said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. "That’s the job I have to do."

"If we want to achieve our vision," he said, "many more will have to join me."

The judge in the case had ruled that DeChristopher's defense could not raise civil disobedience or the controversial history of the leases as an explanation for the illegal bids. On the witness stand, DeChristopher testified that “I was there to raise a red flag. I wanted to delay [the auction] so that the government could take a second look, and make sure they were following their own rules.”


Trial begins of activist who punk'd BLM

No cash, but he bid anyway

BLM halts round-up of wild mustangs

-- Nicholas Riccardi

Photo: Tim DeChristopher, now 29, after he won bids in a BLM auction on 13 parcels that he couldn't pay for as a protest against the Bush administration's sale of lands in southern Utah. Credit: Courtney Sargent / Deseret News

Comments () | Archives (15)

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This guy got what he deserved. The leases and lease sales are part of a legal democratic systems of leasing mineral rights on public lands for extracting oil and natural gas so you can eat hot food from around the world and you can take hot showers in your homes and so you can drive your huge cars that you think are cool.

There was nothing illegal about this lease sale, they have happened every 1/4 of the year for the last century. Oil and gas companies nominate lands for exploration, the govt ecologists review the environmental impact and provide an inpact statement and remove leases that are in wild lands. These lease sales are not some new illegal scheme and have no relation to some outgoing president. That is ridiculous and a bold faced lie.

Way to go Tim! Good job!


Thank you for what you have done! It brings my heart great sadness that the Obama administration has been doing this to you considering that they recongized that these auctions were coducted incontravention with the law and that you raised the down-payment. You are a hero and we hope the appeal goes well for you! Sending lots of love from our family to you!

To thoughts who send mean wishs to Tim, I find it very cowardly that you don't even identify yourselfs and I hope that you spend sometime reflecting on this and on why you would wish someone like Tim be harmed. Its ok to disagree but what kind of person wishes something bad on someone else and hides their true identiy? No doubt you likely work for big oil.

Love, your fellow non-violent activist Heather (Wylie), Eric and Luke

NB: Mr. DeChristopher raised funds to make initial payment on the parcels after they were auctioned off to him:

An additional point is that he did raise the money to buy the land, but BLM would not accept it so that they could make an example of him.

AMERICAN HERO #15 (after the Wisconsin 14)

Final Score: Good Guys 1 - Chicken Little 0

The guy is a hero. Whatever time he serves will be his badge of honor. Anyone who engages in civil disobedience must be prepared to do time. Hopefully, the Judge will be merciful and take into account the greater good and the fact that those lands were ultimately protected by the goverment validating DeChristopher's actions in the end.

This guy was able to take advantage of the government's incompetence. They were acting like ebay, letting anonymous bidders put in bids.
How about holding an auction where the bidders have to show that they have funds before they bid? If you buy a foreclosed house on the courthouse steps you have to have the money in your hand right? Why is our local government smarter than the feds?
I say give the government 10 yrs for being stupid and give this guy a whistleblowing award for exposing them.

Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon get billions more in bonuses after stealing billions from us, and THIS is who our "socialist" President goes after? Disgusting. Truly unforgivable.

I hope he appeals, because the judge's denial of his rights to explain the corruption of the process and his act of civil disobedience is clearly reversible error.

Personally, inspired by Mr. DeChristopher, I will double my efforts to stop Big Energy from slaughtering America's taxpayer-owned wilderness to sell more oil to China, and to centralize solar power which belongs in the built environment. I know thousands of others will as well.

A hero, walking in the footsteps of Henry David Thoreau.

Hope he serves time on a drilling rig.

I hope he gets the full 10 years.

For shame. Once again the corrupt BLM and the Big Corporations have their way. I had hoped one juror had some integrity. But then they were not allowed to know his 'motives' were they?

Was it so long ago when that offshore oil rig exploded and people died and the ocean cried? Did anyone go to jail then? As I recall the guy in charge complained about how he "wanted his life back".

What crime did this young man commit? He stopped an illegal oil mining auction of our public lands. How is it illegal to stop an illegal act? President Obama stopped this lease auction. So- what crime was committed?

Well, this is a great time for a Presidential Pardon.
This young man is a HERO and I am so sick at heart and tired of this corrupt twisted Government that is allowing Corporations to kill our planet....
Tim DeChristopher ought to be our President.

So now we must organize and fight back.
I suggest everyone start by reading Derrick Jensen.

Hope he gets a 1 day sentence


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