Update: The Delta 5 were found not guilty of obstructing a train -- a big victory for climate activists everywhere. But they still need our help to fight Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) from collecting tens of thousands of dollars in fines from them. Click here to support the Delta 5 and the work of climate activists.
Last week I had the honor and pleasure of spending time with Mike LaPointe, Patrick Mazza, Jackie Minchew, Liz Spoerri and Abby Brockway, known as the Delta 5. They blocked a "bomb train" shipment of volatile Bakken crude from departing a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) rail yard in Everett, Washington, just north of Seattle.1 My time with the five included attending their week-long court trial, which was historic because it was the first time that a judge allowed defendants to utilize the "necessity defense" in a case like this. The necessity defense permits a person to act in a criminal manner when an emergency situation compels them to avoid greater harm -- like breaking a window to rescue a baby from a burning building.
The Delta 5 were found not guilty of obstructing a train, but they were found guilty of trespassing on BNSF's property. You can bet BNSF will seek to rake them through the coals to get financial restitution, especially because their actions have inspired activists globally. The Delta 5 are ordinary, everyday people who did an extraordinary thing for us all. They don't have the means to pay BNSF thousands of dollars, and they still very much need our help and support.
Thousands of us have already signed a thank you card to the Delta 5. Now, will you chip in $15 or more to help our friends who risked everything to protect our climate and stop a bomb train?
Last weekend, I presented the Delta 5 with awards and the title of "Knights and Defenders of the Climate." It's the first time we have given such an award, but because of their action is inspiring climate activists locally, nationally, and globally it may not be the last. I saw first hand the power of the Delta 5's action when three jurors from the case spoke to them after the verdict. A juror embraced Abby Brockway and told her how moved they all were by her testimony, her faith, her morality and her cause. One of them even signed her petition to block bomb trains! I also spoke with one of the jurors who told me that the trial had transformed his casual attitude about climate change, and that he now planned to get involved in some way to "act on climate." Now that's what I call transformational change.
The Sunday before the trial, Abby Brockaway said, "We did not do this to become the hero or to become the savior we did this because we saw trouble. We were compelled to move toward the trouble so that we could tell the truth. We felt we had to trespass on those who are trespassing against us because we saw no other thing we could do to stop what is happening to the generations that come after us. Each of us have come to points in our lives where we simply could not be complicit any longer."
The Delta 5 knew what they did would come with risk, sacrifice and a price. They have done all they could and more to pursue climate justice for all of us -- now it's our turn to help them out. Please click here to chip in whatever you can to assist them, and activists like them, with desperately needed funds to support their valiant work.
Thanks for Standing With the Delta 5,
Anthony for Environmental Action
PS - you can read my whole (longer) summation of the trial in the blog post below - Thanks!
1 - Anthony Rogers-Wright, To Justice: My Week With The Delta 5, Environmental Action Blog, January 20, 2016