Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher, who was given a two-year sentence in prison for making fake bids in a Utah public land auction that was later found to be corrupt, has been moved out of solitary confinement. He has been put back in the minimum security camp where he was being held before a member of Congress had him moved.
The news has been out for six or seven hours now. A press conference was held by Peaceful Uprising, a climate activism group DeChristopher helped co-found. A few dozen activists gathered at the Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah, to announce the development but continue to express outrage at the fact that DeChristopher was put in solitary confinement in the first place.
The Dissenter had a detailed post on this yesterday. Apparently, a member of Congress saw an email where DeChristopher expressed interest in giving money back that had been given to his legal defense fund. That member then had DeChristopher moved on March 9.
The identity of this member is still unknown, but what is pretty clear is that the order to put DeChristopher in solitary was inhumane. It was like something that would happen to a political prisoner being held in a fascist country.
The Rolling Stone’s Jeff Goodell posted a copy of the full email. It only made the transfer even more despicable because it dispelled any suspicion that DeChristopher had threatened anyone in the email (not that there ever was any suspicion that he had).
Essentially, as Goodell wrote, the email from DeChristopher addressed the fact that an “unnamed corporate donor who contributed to his legal defense fund” was “exporting US manufacturing jobs and laying off workers.” He said he could not in “good conscience” accept the money if donor was “screwing their workers.” He planned to “send a letter to the owner of the company that made the donation” and explain why it bothered him. And he threatened to “wage a campaign against them if they don’t reverse course and keep the plants open.”
The punitive act that the Congress member took against DeChristopher was to send a message to DeChristopher to not target this donor. This donor is likely someone the Congress member relies on to fill his campaign coffers. The donor is also an entity that has or is in the process of laying off a number of workers because it is outsourcing the jobs to other countries.
It wasn’t just that DeChristopher wanted to give back money. That would be fine. It was that all of a sudden a benevolent entity that had provided a level of support was now engaged in questionable business practices. DeChristopher was going to uncloak this donor and challenge the integrity of this business.
Peaceful Uprising is not about to ignore what happened. They rightfully ask, “Why was Congress involved in moving Tim into isolated confinement, and who ordered the investigation?” The group adds, “This abuse of power must be exposed in it’s [sic] entirety if we are to safeguard our own personal liberties.”
Finally, DeChristopher has an upcoming date for an appeal to his conviction: May 10, 2012.