Environment Magazine

Keystone XL Resistors Headed to Trial

Posted on the 28 May 2014 by Earth First! Newswire @efjournal

from Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance

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The Southern Leg of the Keystone XL is in the ground, but Elisabeth Leja and Alec Johnson are still fighting! Elisabeth Leja and Alec Johnson both took direct action against the southern section of the Keystone XL pipeline last year with Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance in Oklahoma. Elisabeth is a 75-year-old, retired math teacher from Norman, Oklahoma. Elisabeth was the first person to risk arrest opposing KXL in Oklahoma when she locked herself to construction equipment with a bike lock in the whee hours of Feb. 4th, 2013. Alec Johnson is a climate justice organizer based in Nacogdoches, TX who took action last year on Earth Day in Atoka County, Oklahoma.

When Elisabeth isn’t busy shutting down industrial construction sites, she spends time playing with her companion dogs, Omni and Mega, in the beautiful woods near her home.  Elisabeth is a retired math teacher. Citing exponential theory to illustrate the rapid rise of carbon emissions from tar sands exploitation, Elisabeth explains that the Keystone XL just doesn’t add up. “I have nothing to lose personally if the pipeline is completed and used incessantly by Trans Canada. If there were to be a spill, I wouldn’t be directly affected. I live too far away. So why protest? Because I love the earth, our planet. I live on it, and we need to take care of it. Why sit back and let greed run the world?”  Determined to put the KXL and the whole tar sands industry on trial, Elisabeth has taken a No Compromise stance in her ongoing legal defense. Elisabeth is now scheduled for trial at 2pm on June 26th in Ofsukee County. She is facing a charge of trespass. She would love to have community support as she defends herself and individuals’ rights to raise their voices through nonviolent acts of civil disobedience.

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Alec Johnson is also  refusing plea deals and going to trial in order to defend his actions. The prosecutor in Alec’s case is pursuing two charges of Obstructing an Officer, each of which carry a possible one year sentence in Atoka County Jail! Recently an Atoka County Judge overruled a pretrial motion to dismiss Alec’s charges. When asked about his upcoming jury trial, Alec had this to say:

The KXL Pipeline is a clear threat to our children’s futures. Those promoting tar sands exploitation are engaged in a crime against humanity. My action sought to prevent the expansion of the tar sands industry. The fact that the Keystone XL is even being considered represents a stark failure by federal, state, and local government to protect the atmosphere that all life shares. I am NOT GUILTY by reason of necessity. I am defending a right to life that depends on a habitable atmosphere. I am protecting that right to life for future generations. I look forward to the opportunity to present the facts of global warming to a jury and to highlight the urgency and necessity that we all face in fighting global warming and the destructive tar sands industry.”

Alec has been scheduled to go to trial, possibly September or October, no definite date has been set. Stay tuned for updates!

We need your help packing the court room to show support for Elisabeth and Alec! Supporting resisters like Elisabeth and Alec through the court process is an essential part of building a nonviolent direct action movement in the Great Plains. Please let us know here if you’d like to support Elisabeth and Alec by attending their trial. Donations to help cover travel expenses, court costs, and fines are extremely appreciated. Thank you so much for your support!


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