The Monkey Wrencher Goes to Jail

DeChristopherMug Tim DeChristopher, the 29-year-old Utah activist who disrupted a 2008 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) oil-and-gas auction, received his sentence yesterday: two years in federal prison, three years supervised release, and a $10,000 fine. That’s about what his supporters, who packed the Frank E. Moss U.S. Courthouse in Salt Lake City, were expecting from the two-count conviction for making false statements and violating the Federal Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act. What the supporters didn’t expect, and what caused no small amount of outrage, was DeChristopher being led out of the hearing in chains to begin serving his time. (The defense expected DeChristopher to be allowed to self-report to prison.)

“This court is broken!” shouted Ashley Sanders, a member of DeChristopher’s activist nonprofit Peaceful Uprising, who was in the gallery. “Is this a corporate court or our court?” DeChristopher’s supporters responded, “Our court!” and began singing protest songs.

After U.S. marshals dragged Sanders and Peaceful Uprising codirector Ashley Anderson from the courtroom, another DeChristopher supporter stood up and yelled, “This judge is a spineless bastard!”

Those protests, however, were mere theater compared with the 35-minute statement DeChristopher read to the court prior to his sentencing. The activist knew it could be his last public speaking gig for a while, and he made the most of the opportunity.

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