Protesting oil and coal shipments in the BNSF Railway yard in the Delta area of north Everett on Sept. 2, 2014, the “Delta 5” attached themselves to a large metal tripod and were subsequently arrested by Everett police. The five were Patrick Mazza (center), Abby Brockway (on top), Mike Lapointe (left) and Liz Spoerri (tied to pole back-to-back with Jackie Minchew, far right). (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Protesting oil and coal shipments in the BNSF Railway yard in the Delta area of north Everett on Sept. 2, 2014, the “Delta 5” attached themselves to a large metal tripod and were subsequently arrested by Everett police. The five were Patrick Mazza (center), Abby Brockway (on top), Mike Lapointe (left) and Liz Spoerri (tied to pole back-to-back with Jackie Minchew, far right). (Dan Bates / Herald file)

Court affirms trespassing convictions of Everett’s ‘Delta 5’

Climate-change protesters who blocked an oil train say they might appeal to the state Supreme Court.

EVERETT — State Court of Appeals judges have upheld trespassing misdemeanors for activists who blocked freight trains four years ago in an effort to draw attention to climate change.

A three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that Snohomish County District Court handled the case correctly. The arrests received national attention in progressive media outlets, who dubbed the defendants the “Delta 5” — for the Delta train yard in Everett where their act of civil disobedience took place.

“I don’t think anybody has any regrets or concerns about what we did,” Jackie Minchew, a retired teacher from Everett, said earlier this week. “We feel good about the whole action.”

Minchew was among the four activists who pursued the appeal. They included fellow Everett resident Michael Lapointe, as well as Abigail Brockway and Patrick Mazza, both of Seattle. A fifth woman who was convicted in the case dropped out of the appeal.

The remaining appellants are considering whether to pursue the case — and a disputed defense strategy at the center of it — to the state Supreme Court, Minchew said.

On Sept. 2, 2014, more than two dozen activists entered the Delta yard of BNSF Railway in north Everett without permission. They set up a tripod over an at-grade crossing, idling a long train of oil tank cars.

Police arrested five people — the future “Delta 5” — who were on the tripod or attached to it. Prosecutors charged them with obstructing or delaying a train and second-degree trespassing, both misdemeanors.

The case went to trial in early 2016. Dozens of spectators packed the small courtroom daily in Snohomish County District Court in Lynnwood. TV cameras recorded the proceedings. Bloggers, national reporters and two documentary film crews chronicled the events.

The accused had hoped to use a so-called necessity defense, arguing that civil disobedience was their only option for addressing the harm that fossil fuels are causing the planet. They also sought to highlight dangers to railroad workers.

District Court Judge Anthony Howard allowed testimony to support the use of a necessity defense. Witnesses included a retired chemistry and oceanography professor, a physician who works as a public health officer and a director from the Seattle-based Sightline Institute.

In the end, Howard refused to allow the jury to consider a necessity defense. The judge ruled that the defendants failed to demonstrate they had no reasonable alternative to breaking the law.

A jury acquitted the defendants of obstructing a train but found them guilty of trespassing. They were sentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution. Four of them later lost an appeal in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@herald net.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Hay Look Me Over, a Biewer terrier, with her handler, Molly Speckhardt, left, and owner Lynn McKee, of Lake Stevens. The 2-year-old terrier won a Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show ribbon for second, or next best, among the girls in her class. (Submitted photo)
Hairy Lake Stevens pooch wins classy ribbon at Westminster

Hay Look Me Over competed in the new class of Biewer terriers. A Pekingese stole the whole show.

Lake Stevens High School graduate Madelynn Coe will be attending Northeastern University and participating in a study abroad program in Greece her first semester. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Madelynn Coe spent senior year helping others learn online

The pandemic changed everything for the class of 2021. For one young woman, it was a time to give back.

Jackson Emerick, 4, of Shoreline, tosses candy out to crowds lining Main Street in downtown Edmonds during the Edmonds Kind of Fourth Parade on Tuesday. (Ian Terry / The Herald)
Edmonds needs entries for July 4 parade or it may not happen

“An Edmonds Kind of 4th” parade is at risk of being cancelled if there aren’t more entries by June 21.

Supporters march Wednesday afternoon across from Providence Medical Center in Everett on May 5, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett nurses threaten to strike as contract talks stall

Union leaders say Providence’s latest offer includes low wages and cuts to benefits and paid leave.

A house fire displaced seven people and killed one dog Saturday, June 12, 2021, on Chain Lake Road in Monroe. (Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue)
7 displaced as family escapes Monroe house fire, dog killed

People honked to alert three occupants of the home to flames Saturday morning.

DanVo'nique Bletson-Reed, president of the Snohomish County Black Heritage Committee, was given the Everett Community College Diversity and Equity Center's Malcolm X Day 2021 Community Awareness Award. (Snohomish County Black Heritage Committee)
EvCC recognizes SnoCo Black Heritage Committee leader

The Everett Community College Diversity and Equity Center bestowed DanVo’nique Bletson-Reed with… Continue reading

Esco Bell (City of Marysville)
Marysville has a new public works director after long search

Esco Bell brings more than two decades of experience in the field to his new post.

Report: Racial comments targeted Mariner basketball players

Investigators found Lakewood fans’ behavior created a “racially charged” situation during tense May contest.

Parolee accused of raping stranger on way to work in Everett

Bail set at $250,000 for James Spitzer, who served time for a shootout with a Nevada sheriff’s sergeant in 2011.

Most Read