FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 8, 2019, 1:00 p.m. CT
Iowans argue climate necessity defense for arrest at Trump rally
Dressed in black and wearing adult diapers, Bold Iowa supporters were arrested while holding a sign reading, “Climate Denier in the White House scare the S#*T outta you? IT DOES US!”
DES MOINES, IOWA— The Iowa Climate Defenders Five (Todd Steichen, Martin Monroe, Miriam Kashia, Kathy Byrnes, and Ed Fallon) will appear before a judge on Thursday, October 10 at 2:00 at the Polk County Justice Center, Courtroom #110, 222 5th Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50309. At 1:30, they will hold a press conference outside the building.
On June 11, 2019, President Trump visited Hy-Vee’s Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines for a GOP rally and fundraiser. Thirty Bold Iowa supporters called out the president’s climate denial to him and the attendees. Initially, protestors blocked one of the entrances to the facility’s parking lot. Later, five carrying a banner approached the building, hoping to enter and bring their urgent message to the attention of the president and the audience. At that point, they were arrested by West Des Moines police for simple misdemeanor trespass.
“Given the absolute urgency of the climate crisis and our concern about a million species that will soon be extinct if we don’t act to reverse this crisis immediately, we felt totally justified to be there and to confront Republican donors and the president himself to take action to address climate change, before it’s too late,” said Miriam Kashia of 100 Grannies for a Livable Future, one of the five arrested.
“We risked arrest because it’s urgent that we capture the attention of politicians, the press, and the public in this unprecedented moment where saving human life and the planet is on the line,” said Bold Iowa director Ed Fallon. “We wanted to emphasize to those gathered at the rally and fundraiser that climate change threatens our very survival, and a president who denies the problem — whose policies in fact greatly exacerbate the threat — must be called out and challenged.”
“This was a difficult action to plan and implement, and yes, it was a little embarrassing, too, to wear a diaper in public,” said Kathy Byrnes, a grandmother of three who lived on the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline. “While we would have preferred to share our message with the president’s audience and not be arrested, our upcoming trial is an important opportunity to prove that non-violent action in defense of our very survival is justified.”
Because of the worsening climate emergency, the Iowa Climate Defenders Five feel called to act in the interest of present and future generations and the planet. Similar cases across the country have seen judges responding more sympathetically to the climate necessity defense:
— On March 13, 2018, a district court in Washington allowed a defendant who participated in a protest blocking a freight train transporting coal and oil to present a necessity defense.
— On March 27, 2018, a Massachusetts district court judge acquitted 13 defendants who protested the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline.
— On October 9, 2018, a Minnesota trial court dismissed felony and misdemeanor charges against three activists in connection with their participation in a “valve turner” pipeline protest.
The urgency of climate change is also shared by Iowa scientists in the Iowa Climate Statement and in a report by the Iowa DNR. Both warn about the harm being done because of our dependence on fossil fuels.
Furthermore, earlier this year, the Iowa Supreme Court stated in its ruling in Puntenney vs the Iowa Utilities Board (the Dakota Access Pipeline case), page 37, “We recognize that a serious and warranted concern about climate change underlies some of the opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline.”
Bold Iowa’s mission is to build rural-urban coalitions to (1) fight climate change, (2) prevent the abuse of eminent domain, (3) protect Iowa’s soil, air, and water, (4) defend the rights of farmers, landowners, and Indigenous communities, and (5) promote non-industrial renewable energy.