Broward News

You're Invited! Environmentalist on Trial for Chaining Herself to Tree

Courtrooms can be such staid places -- so we love it when people treat judicial proceedings as interactive theater events.

This January, an environmental activist named Stevie Lowe went to the site of the Barley Barber Swamp, an ancient cypress forest, and locked herself to a tree. The reason? Florida Power & Light, which controls this land adjacent to its Martin County power plant, shut down access to the area after September 11, 2001, citing security concerns. Lowe and her friends from Everglades Earth First protested to draw attention to the fact that public access has never been restored. They also claimed that the power plant uses so much water that the underground water table is getting dangerously lowered beyond the reach of the roots of the trees, threatening the ancient forest. Lowe was one of 17 activists arrested.

In an email, Earth First! activists say Lowe "stood up to the Martin County Sheriff's and FPL security and she dealt well with the gators and snakes of the swamp she was protecting. But now she faces the legal system. People who put their bodies on the line to protect wildlands deserve support."

The email continues with an invitation to the trial's kickoff on July 13, beginning with an 8:30 a.m. rally. Observers are looking forward to hearing Lowe's "necessity defense" -- she'll argue that trespassing was necessary to prevent a greater harm. Lowe's legal team will call as a witness Dr. Sydney Bacchus, a hydroecologist who can explain the ins and outs of FPL's alleged evil ways to the jury. 


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Deirdra Funcheon