Call it Portland justice.
Five climate radicals arrested for sabotaging train tracks used by Zenith Energy to transport crude oil are free today because Portland, Ore., jurors just couldn’t bring themselves to convict the earth’s saviors. The five jurors believed the defendants’ “climate necessity defense,” which argues you can break the law if you’re saving the planet. The case ended in a mistrial.
We’ll give you a second to game-out the ramifications if that becomes the norm.
The five defendants, who belong to the group “Extinction Rebellion,” put a “garden” on top of train tracks in Portland last April to stop Zenith Energy from transporting crude oil and were charged with trespassing. They also built a small shed alongside. Eleven people were arrested, five were prosecuted.
The faux garden was put on top of the tracks to cause a potential derailment. Protesters at times sat on top of the tracks.
There’s a group of, at this point, 25 or so people on NW Front, at a “Victory Garden” protest blocking part of railroad tracks used by, among others, Zenith Energy. pic.twitter.com/8ItOclxUYj
— Kristi Turnquist (@Kristiturnquist) April 21, 2019
Even though the district attorneys presented video showing the trespassing, only one juror voted to convict the direct-action monkey-wrenchers last Thursday. Five other jurors were persuaded that the sabotage was “necessary” to save the environment. The case ended in a hung jury and now the notoriously left-leaning district attorneys office will decide whether to retry the five.
One of the defendants, Ken Ward, who was convicted in Washington State for turning a valve to shut down an oil pipeline, which could have ended in catastrophe, told Common Dreams that the verdict in Portland was “a vindication of our call for climate activists to use a climate necessity defense. When citizens are told the truth about the climate crisis—which is the first of Extinction Rebellion’s demands—they take appropriate and responsible action, as our jury did, and we thank them.”
An appeals court has overturned Ward’s conviction in that case, ruling that he was denied the “right” to use the “climate necessity defense” in his case.
The Oregonian reports that the climate necessity defense is a last-resort defense:
The climate necessity defense is an argument defendants use to justify illegal actions taken on behalf of the planet. Until last year, the defense had never been successfully used.
“So much of the necessity defense centers around exhaustion of all other avenues,” [spokesman for the group “Extinction Rebellion” Dylan] Plummer said. “There are people here who for 40 years have been picking up litter, who have been planting trees.”
Defendant Margaret Butler said, “We need to take note of the lessons learned by the labor movement—mass civil disobedience works. The climate crisis is a workers issue, we need to unite to shut down business as usual. Right now.”
— Extinction Rebellion PDX (@XR_PDX) February 28, 2020
Lauren Regan, lead attorney for the group of activists, said, “The jury’s inability to convict the activists reflects the prevailing community consciousness which is unlikely to punish climate defenders for acts of nonviolent resistance.” [emphasis added]
Indeed, this so-called “community consciousness” has made rule of law in Portland a fungible commodity.
Self-defense and gun rights were put to the test and destroyed in the case of Michael Strickland in the previously gun-tolerant Portland.
Strickland, a videographer covering an Antifa and Black Lives Matter rally and march on a public street in July of 2016, was surrounded, roughed up, and ordered to leave by masked thugs. When he didn’t, a mob of masked Antifa thugs and allies converged on him again, whereupon he pulled out his legal, concealed pistol and backed them off without firing a shot. A Multnomah County (Portland) judge convicted him of drawing his gun on his Antifa “victims.” He went to jail and is appealing his case. He was threatened with a 50-year prison term. Most of the prospective jurors were anti-Second Amendment, so the defense opted for a bench trial. A Multnomah County judge threw the book at Strickland.
Mark Dickerson, in downtown Portland for a meeting, was confronted by a group of protesters who tried to block his car on Halloween of 2018. “Directing traffic” – read: blocking it – is getting to be a regular occurrence and tolerated by Portland Police and the brass at city hall.
A protester, hoping for a drama his group could exploit, walked in front of Dickerson’s slow-moving vehicle, allowing himself to be bumped. Police arrested Dickerson. Had he not had video proof, thanks to his dashcam, he’d be sitting in a jail cell right now. As it is, the ongoing legal battle has wiped out his savings and caused harm to his reputation. He continues to try to sue the media for dragging his name through the mud in their Charlottesville redux coverage. A first lawsuit against media outlets was tossed out by a Multnomah County judge last week. He’s sued successfully for the entire incident to be expunged and he’s not done fighting yet.
The point of this is to say that “law-abiding” appears to be an ever-morphing term in the City of Portland. When juries nullify the rule of law and allow “community consciousness” to rule the day, as happened in this sabotage case, there is – to say the least – confusion for actual law-abiding citizens.
Imagine these activists operating with impunity.
Here’s one of their tweets from July: “There are too many people in this world. We need a new plague.”
— The Portland Fox (@portland_fox) July 26, 2019
What could possibly go wrong?