The trial of peaceful activists from Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) ended today with the jury finding Vicci Hamlin, Lisa Leggio, and Barb Carter guilty of both charges brought against them: trespassing and resisting and obstructing an officer. Supporters are deeply saddened that after deliberation for over 10 hours the verdict returned as guilty of all counts. The jury was split most of this time, returning to the courtroom several times for clarification. Sentencing was scheduled for March 5th and the defendants’ bail was revoked and immediately taken into custody.
On January 15th when a denied motion to quash was heard by Judge Collette, he told the MI CATS that they would not be allowed to argue that their actions were “environmentally necessary”. Collette said, “If there is somebody leaking oil on a piece of property and you race out in the yard, and you go in and you stop it, and they charge you with trespassing, I’d throw that case out in a heartbeat. That’s what I think of as ‘Environmental Necessity.” The judge obviously does not understand the severity of the looming climate crisis and that unjust laws allow for the destruction of communities and public health so corporations like Enbridge can maximize their profit. Moreover, the outcome of the case was especially discerning since Judge Collette previously stated that he wanted to make an example out of the three protesters.
This action in which Lisa, Barb, and Vicci were a part of, was not only aimed at stopping the expansion of a Enbridge tar sands pipeline before the next disaster, it was also to stand in solidarity with First Nations land being turned into a sacrifice zones to mine tar sands. They used their positions of relative privilege to support communities currently being poisoned in Detroit and others because of extraction industries that put profit before people. Their actions were nothing less than necessary. (more…)