SALT LAKE CITY -- City prosecutors on Wednesday considered criminal charges for 26 people arrested after they blocked traffic and the light rail downtown while protesting the sentencing of an environmental activist who thwarted a 2008 government auction of oil and gas leases.
A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced Tim DeChristopher, 29, to two years in prison and three years of probation, and fined him $10,000.
DeChristopher was accused of running up bids at the auction of oil and gas leases on public land near Utah's Arches and Canyonlands national parks.
DeChristopher maintains his actions were an act of civil disobedience designed to bring attention to the problems of climate change.
The protesters had staged a sit-in outside two entrances at the federal courthouse downtown where the sentencing took place, then used plastic zip ties to link their wrists together to form a human chain.
They then sat in the street in front of the U.S. District Court building.
"We had to make sure that adequate attention was brought to this cause," said Ashley Anderson, the co-founder of DeChristopher's climate change activist nonprofit group and one of those arrested.
"Business as usual and the status quo was what we intended to disrupt. ... We wanted to show that business as usual is what is killing the planet."
Police Chief Chris Burbank offered protesters the options of leaving on their own, being cited and released on the spot, or being arrested and taken to jail, said spokeswoman Lara Jones.
"They wanted to be arrested," she said.
All 26 were cited for failing to disperse or comply with a police officer, obstructing the operations of a bus and traffic offenses.
Jail records show 19 were booked and released without bail. Seven others were cited, but not booked.
The records shows those booked in jail range in age from 20 to 66. Most were from Salt Lake City, with some from Arizona, Colorado and New York.
Assistant city prosecutor Scott Fisher said the charges include misdemeanors and infractions.
Prosecutors were reviewing the cases to decide whether the citations reflected sufficient charges or if different or more serious charges should be filed, Fisher said.
Court appearances are set for Aug. 9 at the Salt Lake City Justice Court.
DeChristopher was convicted on two felony counts of interfering with and making false representations at a government auction in March. He could have received a 10-year prison sentence.
Supporters reacted to the sentencing with tears, shouting and singing of protest songs.
"We've known for a really long time that he would probably go to prison, but when the judge actually said it and he was gone ... that was the shock," Anderson said.