Surprise Acquittal in Minnesota Valve Turners Climate Trial
Photo from Shut It Down Today / Climate Direct Action
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"It has been a long, emotional week. Three days before trial, we were bitterly disappointed when the Judge appeared to eviscerate our case by prohibiting all of our expert witnesses from giving testimony. Then, at the last minute, some of them -- including a health professional, a climate scientist and a pipeline safety expert -- were back in. And then the biggest surprise of all: Our lawyer files a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the prosecutor failed to provide sufficient evidence that the Valve Turners had damaged a pipeline. And the judge agrees.
The Valve Turners damaged a chain and a padlock, he said. They did not damage a pipeline, and the state had provided no evidence that they had. Case dismissed.
We were stunned, baffled, unsure what to think. There were hugs, tears, relief, and disappointment in almost equal measures. Our friends had so dearly wanted to tell the jury the story of why shutting down tar sands pipelines is necessary. And they never got that chance.
And now we are heading home. As we do so, driving through the long, open roads of Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, we know two things. We know that White Privilege likely played a role in getting our friend's charges dropped; that where the Valve Turners are coming home, many activists of color and Indigenous activists would not have got off so lightly. We know that while our friends have had their charges dropped many activists from Standing Rock are being sentenced to jail and extraordinarily punitive sentences.
And we know one other thing. Now, more than ever -- even more than two years ago -- we need climate disobedience."
Nicky and Alec