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Climate Activists Arrested at US Capitol

by Brandon Loomis

Six Utahns associated with climate activist and convicted energy lease auction imposter Tim DeChristopher were among 30 arrested in and around the U.S. Capitol in recent days for disrupting government activities, including House floor debate.

An undaunted and defiant Tim DeChristopher rallies his supporters after being found guilty of crashing a federal oil and gas lease auction outside the Frank Moss Federal Courthouse in Salt Lake City March 3. (AL HARTMANN | Tribune File Photo) DeChristopher wasn’t among those arrested, though he and 12 other members of Salt Lake City’s climate-action group Peaceful Uprising are in Washington for a “Power Shift” clean-energy conference. DeChristopher spoke to activists at the conference and said that “the climate-change movement has done too much compromising,” said the group’s co-director, Flora Bernard.

That message echoes an impassioned defense of civil disobedience that he gave on the U.S. District Court steps in Salt Lake City after his felony conviction for placing bogus bids at a U.S. Bureau of Land Management lease auction.

“If we’re going to achieve our vision,” he said when his trial ended March 3, “many after me will have to join me as well.”

At the time, members of Peaceful Uprising and his First Unitarian Church congregation said they were willing to face arrest to challenge the fossil-fuel economy that they believe is quickly destroying the planet.

On Friday, Utahns Deb Henry and Steven Liptay were among nine arrested for taking turns singing in protest from the U.S. House gallery, disrupting a budget debate for about 20 minutes. On Monday, Cori Redstone, Joan Gregory, Jacob Hanson and Krista Bowers were among 21 arrested during a sit-in at the U.S. Department of the Interior lobby. More than 100 protesters peeling off a permitted street march had entered the building, home of the BLM’s parent department.

Asked about the disruption, or the message behind it, Interior spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said only that the department “appreciates hearing from stakeholders from all sides of various issues.”

Bernard said the lawful march, organized by the Energy Action Coalition, involved more than 1,000 people protesting outside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a British Petroleum office and other energy-production interests.

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