Tree sitter fights bill for waiting deputies
Carson McCann wants to hang on to $1,053. He also wants to make a case for civil disobedience.
McCann is the Yuba Nation activist who started a tree-sit on Sept. 10, 2001, to disrupt logging on Sierra Pacific Industry land near the Middle Yuba River. He climbed down Sept. 11 after the terrorist attacks.
McCann agreed in November to pay $1,053 to cover wages and benefits of Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies who waited around the clock for him to climb down.
The environmental activist has had second thoughts since then.
McCann’s attorney Kevin Hoeke filed a legal brief this month in Nevada County Superior Court challenging restitution and defending McCann’s civil disobedience as an act of free speech.
“Passive resistance to arrest is a traditional cornerstone of political expression and civil disobedience in this country, having been committed by such criminals as Patrick Henry, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.,” Hoeke wrote in his legal brief.
No court has ever recognized that lawbreakers need to pay officers’ salaries, regardless of whether they resisted arrest, Hoeke wrote.
Meanwhile, Nevada County District Attorney Michael Ferguson maintains that people don’t have to break the law to get their point across.
“Law breaking is not protected speech,” he said Friday. “If his actions are his form of speech … and these actions are breaking the law, that’s not protected speech.”
Ferguson thinks it will discourage future tree-sitting if activists know they’ll have to pay restitution to deputies who wait for them to climb down.
On Friday morning, Ferguson and Hoeke appeared in Nevada County Superior Court for a hearing on the case. But it was postponed one week until 11 a.m. March 29.
McCann is not contesting other elements of his November sentencing: $500 in restitution to SPI, a $370 court fine and eight days’ work release.
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