The Transform Now Plowshares, Three nuclear “abolitionists” have been sentenced from 3 to 5 years in prison following their conviction on charges of sabotage and criminal damage at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Federal Court Judge Amul Thapar imposed prison terms of 35 months for Sr. Megan Rice (84 years old), and 62 months for Michael Walli (64 years old) and Greg Boertje-Obed (59 years old), followed by 3 years of supervised release, less than what federal guidelines recommend and prosecutors asked for. The three Transform Now Plowshares activists must also pay restitution totaling $52,953.
Early on the morning of July 28, 2012, the three veteran activists hiked over a ridge and cut through four fences to reach the United States’ new storehouse for bomb-grade, highly enriched uranium at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex.
At the base of the concrete fortress they strung crime scene tape between the pillars, poured blood on the walls, lit candles and hung two banners reading “Transform Now Plowshares” and “Swords into Plowshares, Spears into Pruning Hooks – Isaiah.” With their hammers, they began chipping away at the building’s foundation. When the first security officer arrived on the scene, the trio broke bread to share as a peace offering. They took action in the 33-year Plowshares tradition of more than 100 predominantly faith-based acts of direct disarmament around the world.
Their arrest led to a temporary shutdown of Y-12 operations, oversight hearings in Congress, and on-going security overhauls throughout the nuclear weapons enterprise.
“If all that energy and passion was devoted to changing the laws, perhaps real change would’ve occurred by today,” said U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar, after praising the three for their consciences and good works. The judge, who imposed sentences that were lower than what the government requested, said that perhaps the threat of significant jail time “will lead people back to the political process I fear they’ve given up on.” (Washington Post:
Ralph Hutchinson, Coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliane (OREPA) responded to the Judges statement with this highly recommended Memo to Judge Thapar:
Readers can read Megan Rice’s Sentencing Statement here .
Read full report, including reports from the court room from Art Laffin (Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Washington DC, and Ralph Huthchinson (Oak Ridge Envirnonmental Peace Alliance) here.
Perhaps the witness of these three facing 3 – 5 years in prison should be a spur to our resistance to nuclear weapons. UK Trident is part of the US system. When was the last time we properly exposed the insecurity of reliance on nuclear weapons for our security as these three have done?