Oklahoma City police charged environmental activists Stefan Warner and Moriah Stephenson with a "terrorism hoax" after they unrolled two banners covered in glitter last Friday.
Warner and Stephenson were part of a dozen activists from the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance who demonstrated at Devon Tower, the home to Devon Energy.
The activists were protesting Devon Energy's use of fracking, mining Canada's tar sands, and its relationship with TransCanada, which wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline in the US.
Warner and Stephenson hung two banners from the second floor of the Devon Tower. One of the banners included The Hunger Games “Mockingjay" logo. The film’s catchphrase, "The odds are never in our favor,” was written on the banner in harmless sparkly glitter.
While the other activists were arrested for trespassing, Warner and Stephenson were charged for staging a fake bioterrorism attack, which could mean a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Oklahoma City police spokesman Dexter Nelson told Mother Jones, "Inside the banners was a lot of black powder substance, later determined to be glitter."
Nelson added that police who responded to the scene mistakenly described the glitter as a "biochemical assault,” even though it was not.
"I've represented any number of political activists in Oklahoma for 35 years," said Doug Parr, an attorney for the activists. "This is the first time I am aware of that anyone has been arrested on terrorism-related charges for protest activity." Parr adds, "In my humble opinion, this is not at all an appropriate use of this statute."
Using terrorist charges against non-terrorist protesters seems to be the plan of action these days.
According to Eenews.net, TransCanada, a foreign oil company, pressured American police officers in the South and Midwest to charge non-violent environmental protesters with terrorist-related crimes.
In June, the environmental group Bold Nebraska provided a PowerPoint presentation created by TransCanada for American law enforcement. The presentation included includes names and photos of activists arrested for protesting Keystone XL, including actress Daryl Hannah.
The TransCanada presentation encouraged law enforcement to arrest Keystone XL protesters on terrorism charges and contact district attorneys for "information regarding the applicability of state or federal anti-terrorism laws prohibiting sabotage or terroristic acts against critical infrastructures.”
Sources: Mother Jones, E&E News