Citing climate change concerns, prosecutor drops criminal charges against coal protesters
A Massachusetts prosecutor has dropped criminal charges against two environmental activists who blocked a coal shipment to a power plant, saying he agreed with their point about climate change.
Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter dropped a conspiracy charge against protesters Jay O’Hara and Ken Ward and downgraded other charges to civil infractions as part of a plea deal, report the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald and the Taunton Daily Gazette.
Sutter spoke with reporters after dropping the criminal charges on Monday. “Climate change is one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced,” Sutter said. “In my humble opinion, the political leadership on this issue has been sorely lacking.” Sutter also issued a statement saying that the plea deal appeared to satisfy the parties, the police and people who sympathized with the activists.
The protesters had blocked the coal shipment with a lobster boat carrying a banner reading “coal is stupid.” They had planned to assert a necessity defense at trial. If the defense was allowed, they planned to call expert witnesses including NASA climate scientist Jim Hansen and environmental activist and author Bill McKibben.