It’s not every day that a story of global relevance happens so close to home. It’s not every day that we citizens can say justice was rightly served. And it’s certainly not every day that I can say I bore witness to a historic moment.
All that happened yesterday in Fall River, MA, where two climate activists, Ken Ward and Jay O’Hara, faced trial for a bold action they took to stop a coal shipment from being made to one of the Northeast’s dirtiest power plants. A year and a half later, the men were looking at a possible 5-year jail term for a variety of criminal charges. And though the Brayton Point Power Plant is slated to close in 2017, it’s still burning coal that’s been extracted through mountaintop removal from West Virginia, giving the people of Somerset, MA sooty roofs and asthma, and contributing significantly to the region’s greenhouse gas output. Because we live in a just world.
So it was a major victory for direct democracy yesterday when all criminal charges against Ward and O’Hara were dropped by Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter. Not only that, the DA basically took a stand that they were right to do what they did because of the government’s inability to create alternatives. This was actually the activists’ defense— that they were compelled to break they law because the consequences of not doing so were much more dangerous— but they didn’t even have to make that argument. Sutter— and the office behind him— already understood.
With Sarah Athanas of Maté Corazon Media, we’re producing a much more comprehensive video on the lobsterboat blockade and climate trial, but for immediate purposes, we were happy to contribute the above story to Democracy Now!