Climate activists have won a vistory. While certain states aim to prosecute pipeline protesters as eco-terrorists, a Massachusetts judge decided yesterday that pipeline protesters are doing their duty.
…Judge Mary Ann Driscoll of West Roxbury District Court decided it was necessary for the protesters to engage in civil disobedience to block the construction of Spectra Energy’s high-pressure fracked gas pipeline and acquitted the activists of civil infractions…
The judge made the decision after hearing each defendant’s testimony. They argued the threat of climate change necessitated their civil disobedience…
~ Lorraine Chow
Director of Center for Earth Ethics Karenna Gore (daughter of environmentalist Al Gore), and one of the acquitted activists, gave a brief statement following the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline #ClimateTrial decision on Tuesday. You can listen to what she had to say in the video below.
What happened today was really important.
~ Karenna Gore
Such a legal decision would have landed an even stronger impact, if the case had gone to a jury trial. But prosecutors avoided that possibility.
…The prospect of a jury trial was rendered moot when prosecutors reduced the defendants’ charges from criminal misdemeanors to civil infractions (like a parking violation). Interestingly, the decision came after the prosecutors saw the list of expert witnesses prepared to testify for the defense — folks like world-renowned climate scientist James Hansen, former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute, and… [environmentalist Bill] McKibben.
Not to be dissuaded, Judge Driscoll went ahead and found the defendants “not responsible” for the infractions — “by reason of necessity.” That decision in itself may be unprecedented, but it hardly carries the same weight as a jury’s verdict in a criminal trial…
~ Wen Stephenson
Civil Disobedience is Responsible