In a victory for both the climate and basic decency, a federal judge today refused to put a global warming organizer in jail for simply hanging activist banners in a U.S. Senate office building.
Judge Frederick H. Weisberg rejected a request from U.S. attorneys to sentence Ted Glick to 40 days in jail for two misdemeanors related to peaceful civil disobedience. Last September, Glick, Policy Director at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, unfurled two large banners in the Hart Senate Office Building saying, “Green Jobs Now” and “Get to Work.”
After receiving hundreds of letters from concerned citizens ranging from NASA’s Dr. James Hansen to actor Danny Glover, Weisberg told an overflowing courtroom audience in D.C. Superior Court that he saw “no useful purpose served by incarceration.” He sentenced Glick instead to a week of community service and a year of probation, plus a $1,000 fine.
The audience cheered and applauded when Weisberg announced his decision.
At the start of the hearing, Glick read a brief statement explaining why he unfurled the banners last September 8th. “Faced with a planetary emergency,” he said, “and as citizens of a democracy, we must nonviolently urge, in the best ways we know how, our elected representatives to do the right thing. That is what I did on September 8th of last year.”
Glick has only two previous convictions related to peaceful acts of civil disobedience.
Weisberg acknowledged the great tradition of nonviolent struggle in America from Thoreau to King. He finally made clear, however, that — by law — it wasn’t the message of global warming that was being sentenced, it was the delivery of that message.
“But on the great scale of things, I don’t think a meaningful punishment would include incarceration here,” Weisberg said.
CCAN director Mike Tidwell said he was very pleased with the decision.
“We’re still not sure why the U.S. Attorney’s office wanted to