At 8:30 am on Thursday, December 13, the Kootenai County Court in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, will hold a full jury trial of Highway 95 tar sands megaload monitor Helen Yost, community organizer of the Moscow, Idaho-based climate change activist group, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT). Idaho State Police (ISP) Corporal Ronald Sutton charged Yost with an infraction for failure to use a vehicle safety restraint and a misdemeanor of resisting and obstructing an officer early on August 27, 2011, when she refused to present ID and identify herself, citing Idaho codes regarding passenger IDs and seat belts in non-moving vehicles.
The incident occurred as Sutton covered his regular patrol route on Highway 95, about ten miles south of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, just before midnight on August 26. When he noticed a Toyota 4Runner parked for a few minutes near milepost 421, he approached its four female occupants who had been traveling for about an hour in the vicinity of an ExxonMobil/Imperial Oil tar sands transport and convoy of a dozen pilot trucks, flagger vehicles, and state trooper cars. On the previous night, six WIRT activists had sat, stood, laid down, and effectively blocked the same 200-foot-long, 413,000-pound, two-lane-wide megaload for a half hour, as it traversed a gauntlet of 150 protesters in downtown Moscow, Idaho.
Corporal Sutton accused driver and WIRT member Sharon Cousins of the infraction of stopping a vehicle in an emergency lane of a controlled access highway, a charge that a Kootenai County prosecutor dismissed on November 18, 2011. Sutton noticed that WIRT spokesperson Helen Yost and visiting activist Cici Claar were not wearing their seat belts in the back seat and requested their identification. Both passengers refused to present their IDs or give their legal names, stating that they had not violated any laws. Two ISP troopers on the scene issued infraction citations to all three women and arrested and jailed Claar and Yost for alleged obstruction. Continue reading