Environmental activist, Tim DeChristopher, was released Monday after serving a 21 month sentence for violating two counts of federal law.
In December 2008, DeChristopher entered false bids in what would later be deemed as an illegal land auction in downtown Salt Lake City, designed to lease land to oil companies wishing to drill for oil and natural gas. DeChristopher admitted to intentionally running up the price on the land and having no intention to payout his bids – in essence making it more expensive to legitimately purchase, and therefore drill, on wild land had the auction been legal, a fact that only came to light months after DeChristopher’s initial arrest.
Though DeChristopher’s actions were spur of the moment, the environmental movement has treated his actions as a premeditated action, quickly sparking the “Bidder 70″ (DeChristopher’s actual bidding tag) movement in the environmental community. This organization also galvanized the group Peaceful Uprising, who take a radical stance on environmental protection.
Activists have called his imprisonment unjust, and drew attention to what they considered an injustice when DeChristopher was placed in solitary confinement. They have claimed that the elevated sentence was the result of DeChristopher using the word “threat” in a letter, saying that the “threat” was DeChritopher threatened to return funds to a donor whom DeChristopher disagreed with ideologically.
The last months of DeChristopher’s sentence were spent in a halfway house in suburban Salt Lake, and the official release is being heralded by his supporters. DeChristopher intends to answer questions this evening in person and via Twitter after the screening of a documentary praising his actions.