Spokane Train Blockaders’ Necessity Defense, Expert Testimony & Presentation, & Sandpoint Talk


Pre-Trial Motion Hearing: Necessity Defense & Expert Testimony

In late August and September 2016, Raging Grannies Margie Heller, Nancy Nelson, and Deena Romoff and Veterans for Peace Maeve Aeolus, Rusty Nelson (husband of Nancy), and George Taylor protested oil and coal trains moving through Spokane and the contribution of those pipelines-on-wheels to global climate change [1-6]. Police handcuffed and booked into jail these Spokane Climate Protectors assisted by Direct Action Spokane, and cited them with the misdemeanor charges of second degree trespassing and obstructing or delaying a train on Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) rail lines.

At their pre-trial motion hearing on Monday, June 26, at 1:30 pm in Room 5 of the Public Safety Building, at 1100 West Mallon Avenue in Spokane, Washington, their attorney Eric Christianson will argue, before Spokane County District Court Judge Debra Hayes, that the six activists have exhausted all other legally viable options, and that their direct actions were thus necessary to halt climate change [7, 8]. Judge Hayes will decide whether she will allow their “necessity defense.”  Recent, Northwest climate activist, court cases of the Delta 5 oil train blockaders in Everett, Washington, and the first of five multi-state, tar sands pipeline valve turner trials in Skagit County, Washington, have rejected this motion.  After a previous postponement and if Judge Hayes assents, three nationally recognized experts on climate change plan to testify in court about the dangers and impacts of transporting volatile oil by rail through Spokane.

On January 31, 2017, activists of Direct Action Spokane, along with physician Gunnar Holmquist and the six arrested Spokane Climate Protectors, filed a lawsuit against the federal government for violating Spokane citizens’ fundamental, constitutional rights to a stable, livable climate and local self-government, by allowing oil and coal trains to pass through the city [9]. They claim that the federal Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 unconstitutionally prevents local governments from urgently enacting regulations to stop climate change, such as ballot measures banning crude fossil fuel transportation through Spokane.  In a similar, Oregon, federal case, 21 youths from across the country assert that government actions cause climate change, defying the “obligation to hold certain natural resources in trust for the people and for future generations,” and thus violate younger generations’ rights to “life, liberty and property.” [8]

Public Presentation: Witnesses for the Climate

Canceled since May 19, when the Spokane County court postponed, without explanation, the motion hearing to consider the necessity defense of the Spokane Climate Protectors, the Witnesses for the Climate public presentation has rescheduled to 7 pm on Monday evening, June 26 [10-12]. At the Community Building, 35 West Main Street in Spokane, three experts will speak about the necessity to defend rights to a healthy climate, through non-violent, direct actions stopping coal and oil train traffic.  They may testify at the hearing earlier in the day, on behalf of the necessity defense of the fossil fuel train-blockading Spokane Climate Protectors.

* Fred Millar is internationally recognized as an environmental safety advocate, researcher, and consultant, and credited with significant federal legislation to limit corporate destruction of the environment.

* Steven Running is an expert on climate change, teaches global ecology at the University of Montana, and chairs the NASA Earth Science subcommittee.

* Tom Hastings is a long-time activist and author of several books.

Event organizers of Direct Action Spokane request that supporters attend this free event instead of the court hearing, in deference to the judge’s disposition. Please share this event alert, and participate in Sandpoint carpools departing without a lead volunteer from the northeast corner of the free, downtown Sandpoint, parking lot, across from the Farmin Park clock, at 5 pm sharp on Monday, June 26.

Sandpoint Talk: Raging Grannies & Veterans for Peace

On Saturday, July 29, from 11 am to 1 pm, North Idaho Resistance Movement, 350Sandpoint, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) will host the Spokane Raging Grannies and Veterans for Peace who peacefully blocked BNSF rail lines in Spokane last fall [13]. Their presentation held in the Rose Room of the Gardenia Center, 400 Church Street in Sandpoint, will discuss their arrests and court case, and will include a question-and-answer session followed by a potluck.  Please bring a food item to share at this free event, open to the public and welcoming donations to cover expert witness expenses.  For more event information, contact Sparrow Ivy at 208-627-9084.  WIRT will post and send another announcement, closer to the date of this event, with further descriptions and a flyer.  Thanks!

[1] Direct Action Spokane (Edited) Media Release: Three “Raging Grannies”…, August 31, 2016 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[2] Three ‘Raging Grannies’ Arrested for Blocking Oil and Coal Trains, August 31, 2016 Spokesman-Review

[3] Rage On, Grannies, September 1, 2016 Praxis Podcast

[4] Three Grannies of Raging Grannies Spokane Arrested, September 1, 2016 Spokane Coalition Builders photo album

[5] KRFP Radio Free Moscow Station Manager Leigh Robartes Interviewed Kai Huschke of Direct Action Spokane…, September 3, 2016 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[6] Spokane Blockade Now: Veterans for Peace…, September 29, 2016 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[7] Spokane County Court Viewer, June 25, 2017 Spokane County, Washington

[8] The ‘Necessity Defense’, Pacific Northwest Inlander, June 22, 2017

[9] On January 31, Activists of Direct Action Spokane, Raging Grannies, and Veterans for Peace…, April 16, 2017 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[10] Sandpoint Carpools for Friday, May 19 Event! May 15, 2017 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[11] Postponed! Thanks to Raging Granny Nancy Nelson,… May 17, 2017 Wild Idaho Rising Tide

[12] Events/Resources: Events: Witnesses for the Climate, Direct Action Spokane

[13] Spokane Raging Grannies & Veterans for Peace Event in Sandpoint, June 11, 2017 North Idaho Resistance Movement, 350Sandpoint, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide

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