On December 19, 2008 Tim DeChristopher disrupted a highly disputed Utah BLM Oil and Gas lease auction, effectively safeguarding thousands of acres of pristine Utah land that were slated for oil and gas leases. Not content to merely protest outside, Tim entered the auction hall and registered as bidder #70. He outbid industry giants on land parcels (which, starting at $2 an acre, were adjacent to national treasures like Canyonlands National Park), winning 22,000 acres of land worth $1.7 million before the auction was halted.
Two months later, incoming Interior Secretary Ken Salazar invalidated the auction. DeChristopher, however, was indicted on two federal felonies with penalties of up to 10 years in prison and $750,000 in fines. Patrick Shea, former BLM Director for Clinton, represented DeChristopher pro-bono.
With the threat of prison looming, DeChristopher stepped up his activism and evolved into a charismatic and ingenious climate justice leader. He co-founded Peaceful Uprising, a grass-roots group dedicated to defending a livable future through empowering non-violent action.
After two years and nine postponements, his trial began on February 28, 2011. Outside the courtroom, hundreds rallied in solidarity with Tim. Inside, Judge Dee Benson disallowed every defense his lawyers put forth. After a five-day trial, DeChristopher was found guilty. His sentencing was scheduled for summer 2012.
Refusing to back down, Tim flew to D.C. in April 2011 to give a keynote speech at Power Shift 2011 in front of 10,000 students. He then led students to occupy the Department of the Interior. Tim wisely avoided arrest, but dozens of others were arrested for this mass act of peaceful civil disobedience. On July 26th Tim was sentenced to two years in federal prison and removed immediately from court in chains.
Bidder 70 centers on an extraordinary, ingenious and effective act of civil disobedience demanding government and industry accountability. In 2008, University of Utah economics student Tim DeChristopher committed an act which would redefine patriotism in our time, igniting a spirit of civil disobedience in the name of climate justice.
Follow Tim, Bidder 70, from college student to incarcerated felon. Redefine justice for yourself. Choose your side.