Media roundup: UU 'valve turner' sentenced to prison for climate activism

Media roundup: UU 'valve turner' sentenced to prison for climate activism

A weekly guide to stories about Unitarian Universalists from other media sources.

Rachel Walden


Michael Foster, a Unitarian Universalist from Seattle who shut off the Keystone XL Pipeline in 2016, was sentenced to three years in prison (with two years deferred) for his act. A passionate activist for climate justice, Foster used media coverage of the sentencing to urge more people to take action to save the planet. ( Oregon Public Broadcasting- 2.6.18)

In an in-depth profile of Foster and the four other climate activists now known as the “valve turners,” the reporter described the group of white, middle-aged individuals as quiet people who, while deeply concerned about climate change, are not immediately threatened by its worst effects. “All say that it is this relative safety—and the relative advantages of age, race, education, and wealth—that makes them feel they have a particular responsibility, as climate activists, to push the boundaries of civil disobedience.” (New York Times - 2.13.18)

More coverage:

“'Valve turner' sent to prison for shutting down pipeline” ( Valley News- 2.6.18)

“Valve Turner Michael Foster Sentenced to 3 Years Prison (2 Years Deferred)” ( UU Ministry for Earth- 2.6.18)

As communities targeted, sanctuary movement grows

In response to the Trump Administration’s crackdown on immigrants, representatives from multiple churches in the Ann Arbor, Michigan, area came together at First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor to declare themselves sanctuaries for immigrants under threat of deportation. The Rev. Lindasusan Ulrich, assistant minister at First UU, ground her congregation’s commitment in the UU Seven Principles and said, “There’s no ‘them,’ only ‘us.’” ( 2.14.18)

When Syed Jamal, a Bangladeshi father of three, was taken from his family in front of his home as he prepared to drive his children to school in Lawrence, Kansas, his detention triggered an outpouring of support from the community. All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Kansas City held a “Free Syed” rally where Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver attended after visiting Jamal in detention in El Paso, Texas. Jamal has since received a temporary stay of removal. He is still being held in detention in Hawaii and the timing of his return to his family in Kansas City remains unclear. ( KCUR 89.3- 2.12.18)

In a profile of Sandra Lopez, an immigrant mother living in sanctuary in Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist Church in Carbondale, Colorado, she described the difficulty of having to live inside a building every day, never able to leave. For those who would criticize Lopez’s decision to seek sanctuary, Liam Devlin, the immigration attorney handling Lopez’s case, noted that Lopez has no criminal record and left her country of origin because of violence and to seek better opportunities. “People wanting to comment on Sandra being here, I think it would be good for them to try and put themselves in Sandra's shoes," said Devlin. ( 2.14.18

More sanctuary coverage:

“Kansas Republican introduces bill to keep Syed Jamal, arrested by ICE, in U.S.” ( Kansas City Star- 2.14.18)

“More Washtenaw congregations join sanctuary movement” ( Michigan Radio- 2.14.18)