activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: no-tav

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.

three no-tav activists currently in custody will soon face additional charges

Lucio Alberti, Graziano Mazarelli, and Francesco Sala were arrested last year related to protests against a high-speed railway being built between Lyon, France and Turin, Italy. Currently in custody, they face charges of producing dangerous weapons and carrying them in a public place. Following investigations by national anti-terrorism squads, the three will soon face additional charges related to an attack in May 2013 at a railway work site. According to an Italian news agency article,

Police at the time said roughly 30 hooded vandals broke into the construction site under the cover of nightfall and tore down fences and blocked machinery. In a nearby incident, several other activists confronted police with fireworks and Molotov cocktails. The incident “was an attack on the State, its choices and basic interests,” prosecutors argued.

At last month’s trial of four other activists facing similar charges, prosecutors sought sentences of up to nine years. The railway has sparked protests since 1994 due to its high cost and damage to the environment. Italian activist Riccardo Carraro wrote in October 2013 that the government has “cracked down on the protests, wounding many, indicting more than 900 activists,” and heavily militarized the valley “while deploying thousands of policemen and soldiers to defend the construction.”

six members of the no-tav movement sentenced for crimes during protests, but two acquitted

Six activists were sentenced yesterday for crimes during protests in 2010 against a high-speed railway being built between Lyon, France and Turin, Italy. They were each sentenced to five months. Two other activists were acquitted. According to an Italian daily newspaper article,

No-TAV activists have organized a series of protests against the high-speed rail link throughout Italy over the last few years. Some have included violent clashes with police and disruption of highway traffic. Opponents of the project contest its high cost and impact on the environment.

Rail projects, though often perceived as a form of progress, are enormously expensive and not cost-effective compared to buses. In addition, buses can easily be re-routed if riders change their minds over time about where they want to go. Instead of funding an ever-expanding rail system, which benefits private contractors and people who own commercial property near rail stations, governments should improve existing pubic transit for those who depend on it (e.g., elderly people, people with disabilities, and low-income people) by adding bus shelters, evening and night-time service, and greater access to doctors and hospitals.

Improving existing public transit is also an effective means of protecting the natural world, because it removes some of the dirtiest vehicles from the road, reduces the number of motor vehicle miles traveled, and avoids the environmental destruction involved in constructing and maintaining new rail projects.