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2010-07-06

Environmentalist Facing 3-Year Prison Sentence for Unfurling Banners in Senate Office Building

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Environmentalist Ted Glick will be sentenced today and faces up to three years in jail for hanging two banners inside the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill that read "Green Jobs Now" and "Get to Work." Glick was convicted in May of two misdemeanors: displaying a banner in a federal building and disorderly conduct, each of which carries a six-month jail sentence. But the US Attorney’s Office has asked the judge to triple Glick’s sentence because of his two previous convictions, both of which also related to nonviolent protests. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The environmentalist Ted Glick will be sentenced today and faces up to three years in jail for hanging two banners in a government building last year. Last September, the day the Senate returned from summer recess, Ted Glick and over two dozen other peaceful demonstrators unfurled two banners saying “Green Jobs Now” and “Get to Work” inside the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. They say they were trying to pressure the Senate to pass climate change legislation that had already passed the House.

Glick was convicted in May of two misdemeanors: displaying a banner in a federal building and disorderly conduct, each of which carries a six-month jail sentence. But the US Attorney’s Office has asked the judge to triple Glick’s sentence because of his two previous convictions, both of which also related to nonviolent protests.

Ted Glick is sixty years old. He has been arrested sixteen times, spent time in prison in 1971 for resisting the draft. He’s the policy director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and joins us now from Washington, DC, just a few hours before he’s sentenced for taking part in this protest, the banner hangs.

Ted Glick, welcome to Democracy Now! Explain your motivation for what you did.

TED GLICK: Thanks, Amy. I appreciate this opportunity.

I have been active since 2003 on the issue of the climate crisis. I do believe that it is the overarching issue of our time and that we have to take this very seriously.

This action was, quite frankly, not a major commitment of mine. I had other projects I was working on in my capacity as the policy director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, but I certainly supported this, as my organization worked with others to make it happen. I believe that it was important to send a message to the Senate when they came back last September, that it was on their plate now, they needed to step up to the plate and get serious about passing strong climate legislation, actually, better legislation than what the House passed. The House-passed bill was not that good; it was problematic in many ways. So I agreed to help to drop these two banners from the seventh floor of the Hart Senate Office Building.

I knew there was a risk involved, a risk of arrest. I actually did not expect that if the police saw us dropping these banners, that I would be arrested. I’ve had some experience in the same building with a banner hang back during the first week of the invasion of Iraq, and at that point, the police told us to pull up the banners, and they escorted us out of the building. But that isn’t what happened in this case.

The bottom line is that people, in whatever ways they are moved to do so, have to take action on this issue. And now is, quite frankly, a really good time to do it, given that the Senate, ten months after this action that we took, is finally getting to the issue of the climate crisis and our energy policy, linking it to what’s going to be done about the BP blowout disaster, as far as legislation governing, regulating deepwater drilling, in particular. So, we need actions. This was one of a number of actions that I’ve undertaken.

What’s going to happen today, I don’t know. We’ve had lots of letters that have been sent to the judge. We estimate probably 250 letters that have gone in to the judge.

AMY GOODMAN: Ted Glick —-

TED GLICK: There will be people in the courtroom.

AMY GOODMAN: I just wanted to clarify, since we just have a minute. I mean, you are now facing three years in prison.

TED GLICK: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: We just had a conversation about the BP oil spill. It’s entered its seventy-seventh day. The heads of BP certainly have not been indicted, though there is a criminal investigation into them. It’s not clear exactly what that means in terms of holding them personally responsible. This is the worst environmental catastrophe in US history.
Massey, West Virginia, the head of Massey Energy, the coal company whose explosion led to the deaths of twenty-nine workers -— in the Gulf, it was eleven workers — has not been indicted. How do they justify you facing three years in prison for a banner hang saying “Green Jobs Now”?

TED GLICK: You’d have to ask the US Attorney’s Office why they are prosecuting this case like this and why they have made it very clear that they have the right to triple the maximum sentence because of these past convictions and to ask for three years in jail. Why they are wasting time, energy and resources on this, I don’t know.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, the issue of the time being now, with the BP oil explosion and the legislation in the Senate. You did this before the Copenhagen conference that led to a failure.

TED GLICK: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you want to happen right now? You have thirty seconds.

TED GLICK: Well, people need to put pressure on the Senate, you know? There should be a — the Senate should be flooded right now. They come back from their recess next week. They should be flooded in this month of July with demands that they get serious about the climate crisis, which they’re not yet being serious about. Same with President Obama. President Obama needs to give leadership on this right now, the kind of solutions that are going to do the job. That’s what we need. And they need to hear from us. We need a grassroots uprising, demanding action on climate change right now, this month by the Senate.

AMY GOODMAN: Ted Glick, thank you very much for being with us, policy director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, faces three years in jail for the banner hang last September. Two banners: “Green Jobs Now,” the other one saying “Get to Work.” They hung them inside the US Hart Office Building, the Senate Office Building.

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