United States: Climate activist avoids jail for banner drop

Climate change activist Ted Glick. Photo: Tedglick.com

A Washington DC court convicted a repeat-offender in May for a crime that could have seen him spend years in prison.

The offender was not a BP executive found guilty of criminal negligence over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Nor was it any other environmental vandal.

It was climate change activist Ted Glick.

His crime was to hang two banners off the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in September last year.

The banners were intended to send a message to the Senators, urging them to vote for climate change legislation that had already passed the House of Representatives, said Baristanet.com on June 16. The banners read “Green Jobs” and “Get to Work”.

Glick is a long-time environmental activist and writer. He is policy director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

Glick’s convictions were for “displaying a banner in a public building” and “disorderly conduct”.

The US Attorney General’s office pushed for higher penalties on the grounds that Glick had been convicted on two other occasions after peaceful sit-in protests at government buildings, said the July 2 New Jersey Star-Ledger.

Prosecutors said Glick could face up to three years jail.

At the July 6 sentencing hearing, Judge Frederick Weisberg decided not to give Glick a jail sentence. He received a 30 day suspended sentence and a year’s probation.

He will also have to carry out 40 hours of community service and pay a US$1100 fine.

Glick said he was pleased with the judge’s decision.

“I don’t regret the action in any way”, he told the July 6 Star-Ledger. “The action was needed. If anything, it’s a shame it took the Senate so long to finally focus on the issue of climate change.”

Hundreds of supporters sent letters to Weisberg to urge a lenient sentence.

Chesapeakeclimate.org said on July 2 that Glick’s supporters included actors Susan Sarandon and Danny Glover, NASA climate scientist James Hansen, climate campaigners Bill McKibben and Gus Speth, science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson and Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton.

Before his May trial, Glick rejected an offer from the Attorney General’s office to plead guilty and serve a 30-day sentence. “There's no way I would accept that anyone should go to jail for 30 days for hanging a banner”, he told Baristanet.com on June 16.

Glick’s laywer, Ann Wilcox, accused US authorities of double standards over the case, said the Star-Ledger. “Why put someone in prison for dropping a lightweight silk banner when BP is polluting the Gulf and taking away peoples’ livelihood?”, she said.

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.