activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: christopher wahmhoff

year-end wrap-up: updates on 2014 posts

NATO 3: On February 7, the jury in the NATO 3 trial acquitted the defendants of all the terrorism charges and the solicitation to commit arson charge. The jury found the defendants guilty of mob action, possession of an incendiary device with the intent to commit arson, and possession of an incendiary device with the knowledge that another intended to commit arson. On April 25, Brian Jacob Church was sentenced to five years, Brent Betterly to six years, and Jared Chase to eight years. Church is now in a halfway house.

Debbie Vincent: Following the conviction of SHAC activist Debbie Vincent in March, she was sentenced to six years in prison in April.

Robert Birgeneau: After Haverford students planned to protest former UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, who Haverford College invited to speak at commencement, Birgeneau backed out in May. Condoleezza Rice, who Rutgers University invited to speak at commencement, also backed out this year after students and faculty organized a campaign citing her role in the Iraq war. International Monetary Fund Director Christine Lagarde, who Smith College invited to speak at commencement, backed out too after nearly 500 people signed an online petition.

Holly Nguyen and Maya Land: On September 8, Holly Nguyen and Maya Land, the two UC San Diego students who allegedly set fires to prevent a Starbucks from opening on campus, pled guilty to reckless endangerment. They were ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluations and spend 20 days in jail. They will also be on probation for 18 months and have to spend 30 days doing “public service.”

School of the Americas Watch vigil: Although Fort Benning officials and the Columbus police tried to shut down the 25th annual School of the Americas Watch Vigil in November, they backed down following a coordinated grassroots pressure campaign.

Food Not Bombs: After Ft. Lauderdale approved an ordinance outlawing most food sharings in public parks, people protested, tried to meet with city officialswere cited for giving out food, temporarily stopped eating, and crashed Ft. Lauderdale’s website. On December 2, the day after Anonymous crashed the city’s website, a judge in Florida issued a 30-day ban on enforcement of the ordinance.

Procter & Gamble protest: Initially charged with two felonies and facing up to nine and a half years in prison, most of the activists who protested against rainforest destruction at Procter & Gamble headquarters this past spring pled guilty to misdemeanor trespassing on December 12. They were sentenced to complete 80 hours of community service. (One of the activists accepted a previous pleas deal, and another, Tyler Wilkerson, passed away on October 6.)

November 2011 Occupy Cal lawsuit: On December 12, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers dismissed claims against several police officers and one UC Berkeley administrator in a lawsuit regarding excessive force during the November 2011 Occupy Cal protests. Claims against other officers and administrators, including former UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, will proceed.

No-Tav: On December 29, the additional charges recently brought against three No-TAV activists currently in custody were dropped. This court decision followed disruption of rail services last week in many parts of Italy after an arson attack, blamed on protesters, on Bologna’s Santa Viola station. Four other activists facing similar charges were recently convicted and sentenced to prison terms of three years and six months each.

Christopher Wahmhoff: After spending approximately 10 hours inside an Enbridge oil pipeline in June 2013, Christopher Wahmhoff was convicted on December 16 of trespassing and resisting police. On December 29, Wahmhoff was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay fines and costs of $908. Restitution has yet to be determined. According to one of the protesters outside the courthouse before Wahmhoff’s sentencing,

When the state convicts people who are protesting for the health of the community, … it’s betraying the community.

appeals court reverses dismissal of charges against activist who spent hours in pipeline

On January 13, the trespassing and resisting charges against Christopher Wahmhoff, who spent 10 hours inside a new oil pipeline in Michigan last June, were dismissed. Circuit Judge James Kingsley ruled that officers did not order Wahmhoff to leave the pipeline. According to today’s Battle Creek Enquirer article,

Wahmhoff entered a section of Enbridge Inc. pipeline near Division Drive and 16-Mile Road in Fredonia Township on June 24 to protest construction. The company is installing a new line to parallel one that broke and spilled about a million gallons of oil onto the ground and into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River in 2010.

This week an appeals court reversed Judge Kingsley’s decision to dismiss the charges. The appeals court ruled that there was evidence to establish probable cause that Wahmhoff committed the offenses. The case will now return to Judge Kingsley for trial.

charges against activist who spent hours inside an oil pipeline dismissed, if only temporarily

On June 24, Christopher Wahmhoff spent 10 hours of his 35th birthday inside a new oil pipeline in Michigan to protest Enbridge Inc., the company that built it. He was charged with trespassing and resisting police. Today his charges were dismissed, although the prosecutor claims the charges will be reissued.

Enbridge is responsible for the largest onshore oil spill in U.S. history. The company’s Line 6B ruptured along a Michigan riverbank in July 2010, spilling more than a million gallons of toxic, tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek, a tributary. According to a post by Ben Jervey on DeSmogBlog,

It was the most expensive pipeline oil spill in the country’s history, the fallout from which still plagues the local communities, and government investigators have found that it was entirely preventable. … Last year, a joint report … spotlighted the specific threats of tar sands crude to pipelines. It warned that pumping DilBit at high volumes, common practice in the industry, could cause corrosion and cracking — exactly what was found to have caused the spill from Enbridge’s pipeline 6B.

Earlier in 2010, Enbridge’s Line 2 pipeline spilled more than 3,000 barrels of crude oil near Neche, North Dakota. In July 2012, Enbridge was forced to shut down Line 14 after more than 1,000 barrels of crude oil spilled onto a Wisconsin field. In November 2012, 900 barrels of crude oil leaked from an Enbridge pipeline near Chicago. And in April 2013, a couple months before Wahmhoff’s Fearless Summer action in June, Enbridge’s Line 2 pipeline, which has a history of spills, leaked roughly 600 gallons of crude oil at its pump station near Viking, Minnesota.