Two megaload protesters pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace for blocking a convoy of Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil shipments in Moscow on March 4, before being given the opportunity to explain how their perception of the environmental devastation tied to the Kearl Oil Sands project left them no choice.
James Prall, 67, and Cass Davis, 47, both of Moscow, had been facing obstruction charges, but a deal brokered with counsel Dana Johnson of the Northern Rockies Justice Center and city of Moscow prosecuting attorney Rod Hall amended the charges to disturbing the peace with the penalty being a $240 fine.
“I seem to always be disturbing the peace,” Prall told Magistrate Judge John C. Judge on Friday at the Latah County Courthouse. “I have tried to slow down, if only for one minute, our society’s rush to squeeze the last bit of oil out of an otherwise pristine place.”
Davis said his actions were morally justified and in the public’s best interest, condemning the Moscow Police Department and other law enforcement agencies that were reimbursed for shepherding the 78 shipments through the city and condoning environmental harm to the planet for the sake of commerce “by shredding the U.S. Constitution.”
“Its destructive power rivals that of a nuclear holocaust,” said Davis of the tar sands project. “Climate change is based on sound science. … Knowing the facts, I have no choice but to disturb the peace.”
Judge told the two defendants he admired their convictions prior to imposing the fines.
“I don’t think either one of you were irrational or insane for what you did,” he said. “I think nonviolent protest is one of the things that has made this country great. … Pay your fine and costs and keep standing for what you believe in.”
(Staff report, The Moscow-Pullman Daily News)