Throughout the process of waiting for trial, several folks have asked about sending letters asking for the charges to be dismissed. I was uncomfortable with the question for a while, and have finally clarified those thoughts.
We aren't asking for folks to write letters to anyone asking that the charges be dropped. In short, I don't want the charges to be dropped. I think part of the point of civil disobedience in this country is to take an issue in front of a jury. The way our system is supposed to work is for the government to bring someone who is civilly disobedient in front of a jury, who can then decide if the person's actions were justified. The injustice in this case isn't that I am facing a trial; it's that the jury is being denied the information to decide if my actions were justified.
The role of the jury
in our legal system has been severely minimized, and I think part of the way we bring it back is to take more cases of political dissent to jury trials.
I don't think it's inappropriate that I'm facing serious consequences in this trial. I think part of the power of civil disobedience is that an injustice has to be serious enough that someone is willing to risk serious consequences
if his or her fellow citizens don't agree that standing in the way of the law was justified. When someone suffers consequences such as a prison sentence for resisting injustice, the imprisonment is not the root of the injustice or the suffering. The prison sentence simply makes the existing injustice and suffering more tangible to a different class of people. In my case, the real injustice is that my generation is being condemned to an unlivable future. My imprisonment simply makes that injustice more real to folks like the First Unitarian Church community. But to focus on my prosecution is to fight against the shadow of injustice rather than the substance of it.
My hope is that the actions surrounding my trial
are not a protest against my trial, but rather a demonstration that my prosecution will not deter the commitment of others who struggle for a healthy and just world. Rather than a request to some authority above ourselves, it should be a statement about our joy and resolve in the face of intimidation. The audience is not any government official, but the body of citizens who wonder if they would be alone if they stood up in defense of a livable future. I have become increasingly convinced that there is no force of oppression in the world that can stand in the way of an empowered citizenry who believe in their power to create the world they want to see.
Instead of writing a letter of appeal to any government official or agency, write a letter to a friend asking them to join you in your willingness to make a sacrifice for a just and healthy world. I think it's time for our movement to stop trying to appeal to power and start creating power. I have been tremendously emboldened by the support I've received, and I really believe others are capable of powerful actions if they know they will receive that kind of support.