March 6, 2011
I am writing to thank you for being such a great example to our generation. I’m an intern at the Finding the Good Traveling Semester Program in Nevada City, California. I first heard of you when I arrived to start the semester. The other intern, Annabelle, gave me a briefing of who you are and what you did, and mentioned that our group had interviewed you for the past three years at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival. Then she told me our directors, Tom and Debra, were considering taking our group to Utah for your trial. Let me tell you, I pushed so hard to make sure we went, especially after watching your interviews and being so impressed with your resolve to make our future a livable one.
Peaceful Uprising was great—they put on a phenomenal summit, organized a peaceful march and rally, and found us a couple willing to let us stay in co-housing. I really commend Peace Up’s efforts in working tirelessly to make the week a success. It is not an exaggeration to say that the ten days I spent in Salt Lake City were some of the most intense days I’ve ever experienced. On Monday, during the singing at the march, I felt such solidarity and strength with the rest of your supporters. I even joked to our group that this particular rally was the solution to our energy problem—if we could just harness all of the energy that crowd generated, we could sell it to the grid!
On Thursday, I also felt strong solidarity. I’ve never had such an intense emotional experience before. The courtroom was charged with anticipation. I felt as though it were me and my future standing on trial, and in a sense it was. Before the jury even reached a verdict, I was grieving at the unfairness of it all: the judge so restricted your defense, as to allow the prosecution to try to paint you as a villain, out to “harm others.” The idea was laughable.
I grieved because the twelve jurors of our future were largely not our “peers.” There were a couple of younger jurors, but the majority of them were from an older generation—the very ones from whom we’d inherited such a messed-up world. And that was unfair.
I grieved because I live in a country that punishes a man for standing up to protect his future, while allowing a few bureaucrats to continue to pillage the land for their own profit. And that was not fair. That is not justice.
I had braced myself for a guilty verdict, but it still pained me to hear it. But when we all gathered outside afterward, and we were all singing, I felt that solidarity again. And when you gave your speech, you gave us all hope again, because there will be many more after you. It’s no easy walk to freedom, but you’ve paved the way.
I want to thank you again for your courage to act and to do the right thing. I have no doubt that your story has, and will continue to inspire others, including myself, to take control of our future. We’ll do great things, because we’ll respond to intimidation with joy and resolve. Best of luck, and much love from the social justice movement!