They are Mike LaPointe, Patrick Mazza, Jackie Minchew, Liz Spoerri and Abby Brockway, and they call themselves the “Delta 5.” They will appear before Judge Anthony Howard in Lynnwood’s Snohomish County South District Court at 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 11.
The five face charges of trespass and blocking a train stemming from a Sept. 2, 2014 protest at the BNSF Delta Yard in Everett. During the protest, they positioned themselves in the path of a mile-long oil train and erected a metal barricade across the tracks, effectively blockading the train for eight hours.
Members of the Seattle chapter of the worldwide climate action group Rising Tide, the Delta 5 defendants hope their the trial will provide a forum to explain their deep concern with oil and coal trains and the need for civil disobedience in the climate movement.
“There came a point where I could no longer sit back and wait for the politicians to act. I had to put my body on the line to demand not talk, but action on a massive scale to rapidly replace fossil fuels,” said Delta 5 defendant Patrick Mazza.
On Thursday night Judge Howard reversed his earlier decision and will allow a necessity defense in next week’s trial.
According to Ahmed Gaya, spokesperson for the worldwide group Rising Tide, this will be the first time a U.S. criminal court has allowed defendants to argue their actions were necessary because of the threat of climate change.
“The defense will be calling expert witnesses including two rail safety experts and a climatologist, who will testify that the threat of oil trains, both to communities and the climate, justified the defendant’s actions last year,” said Gaya.
According to Gaya, a documentary crew and dozens of supporters are expected to attend, including some who have traveled across the country.
Concerned citizens are invited to join them outside the South Snohomish District Courthouse, 20520 68th Ave. W. at 8 a.m.
More information is available at the Delta 5 trial website.
-By Larry Vogel