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Support Jailled Florida EF!ers

Absurd sentences given to Earth First!ers in Palm Beach County for misdemeanors. Please support them.
Two activists in Palm Beach County were given sentenced to serve time for misdemeanor convictions yesterday. Panagioti (Peter) Tsolkas and Lynne Purvis were given max sentences for their involvement in an action against Florida Power and Light's plan to build West County Energy Center. Please support them by writing a letter if you can.

Peter Tsolkas #0273636
Palm Beach Detention Center
PO Box 24716
West Palm Beach, FL 33416

Lynne's address is not know at this time. Please post if you know it.

From Palm Beach Post:
 link to www.palmbeachpost.com

"Two get jail time for FPL protest


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Monday, February 02, 2009

WEST PALM BEACH The activists claimed they acted in good conscience, linking themselves together with chicken wire and PVC pipe at Florida Power & Light's planned West County Energy Center to raise awareness of the devastating effects they contend the plant will have on the environment.

Panagioti Tsolkas, Lynne Purvis and five other environmentalists with Everglades Earth First! faced a judge Monday afternoon for their penalty after jurors in December convicted them of unlawful assembly, trespassing and resisting an officer without violence misdemeanors.

Their protest in February 2008 shut down Southern Boulevard for hours and prompted a special force of an estimated 100 sheriff's deputies to respond.

Tsolkas appeared unchastened, telling County Judge Laura Johnson moments before she sentenced him that he had "every intention" of leaving the court and continuing his protests.

He left instead for a holding cell, handcuffed, sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Johnson adjudicated Tsolkas guilty and sentenced him to a maximum of one year probation on each charge.

Purvis, 29, received 30 days in jail, along with the sentence of probation.

Johnson jailed Tsolkas and Purvis because they had previous criminal convictions for nonviolent offenses.

As the two were handcuffed, an onlooker wearing peace sign earrings blurted out, "This is the United States of America!" A bailiff warned her he would escort her from the courtroom if she called out again.

"It's unheard of ... jail time! Don't forget these are misdemeanors," said Tsolkas' partner, Lake Worth Commissioner Cara Jennings, outside court. "They clearly don't want people protesting in Palm Beach County."

The five others with no criminal history - Noah Wilson, Brandon Block, Richard Halsted, Marc Silverstein and Russell McSpadden - all were adjudicated guilty and sentenced to probation for a maximum of one year.

"It wasn't a play date out there with the police officers," Johnson told one. "These were serious offenses."

All seven could face staggering fines as well.

Assistant State Attorney Danielle Croke told Johnson that the defendants should each pay the more than $21,000 in investigative costs the sheriff's office incurred after deploying its Emergency Field Force to handle the protest. Croke was intent on recovering the money, calling sheriff's office officials to the witness stand to detail the costs.

Croke argued case law allows the judge to fine each defendant for the full amount.

"That's a lot of fund-raisers," the woman with the peace sign earrings whispered to Jennings.

Johnson said she will make a written ruling on the fines at a later date.

Assistant Public Defenders Erich Taylor and Charles Fountain II argued unsuccessfully at trial a "necessity" defense, that the crimes were necessary to prevent imminent harm to the environment.

Jurors heard experts testify about rising oceans caused by carbon dioxide emissions and of the 13.5 million gallons a day of contaminated water from the plant that will be injected into underground aquifers.

At sentencing, Taylor emphasized the "chilling effect" jail and the steep fines will have on free speech.

After court, the activists' supporters had to figure out what to do with Tsolkas' and Purvis' bikes.

They rode them to the courthouse, presumably expecting to be riding them home."