By Natasha Lennard – The Intercept_
A panel of three Trump-appointed judges this week upheld an excessive eight-year prison sentence handed down to climate activist Jessica Reznicek, ruling that a terrorism enhancement attached to her sentence was “harmless.”
The terror enhancement, which dramatically increased Reznicek’s sentence from its original recommended range, set a troubling precedent. Decided by a lower court in 2021, it contends that Reznicek’s acts against private property were “calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government.” The appellate justices’ decision to uphold her sentence, callously dismissing the challenge to her terrorism enhancement, doubles down on a chilling message: Those who take direct action against rapacious energy corporations can be treated as enemies of the state.
Reznicek, an Iowa-based member of the Catholic Worker Movement and a participant in the Indigenous-led climate struggle, engaged in acts of property damage in an attempt to stop the completion of the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016 and 2017. Along with fellow activist Ruby Montoya, Reznicek took credit for various acts of sabotage, which harmed no humans or animals but burnt a bulldozer and damaged valves of the pipeline. The damaged equipment was property not of the U.S. government, but of private pipeline and energy companies.
Following Reznicek’s guilty plea to a single charge of conspiracy to damage an energy facility — which brought a recommended sentencing range of 37 to 46 months — Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger, in allegiance with prosecutors, added the terrorism enhancement. This increased her sentencing range to 210 to 240 months, making the eight-year sentence Reznicek ultimately received fit comfortably below the accepted range, though it’s more than double the previous recommendation. (Montoya, who also pleaded guilty, has filed a motion to withdraw her plea, claiming that it was coerced.)
Read the whole article at The Intercept_
Cover image: Dhance6033
Article’s original cover image: Jessica Reznicek sits at the entrance to the drilling site in Sandusky, Iowa, where the Dakota Access pipeline goes under the Mississippi River on Aug. 10, 2016. Photo: Courtesy of Joshua Smith