On July 28, 2012, Sister Megan Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli entered the nuclear weapons factory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to draw international attention to the United States’ nuclear weapons program. The three members of Transform Now Plowshares were able to reach the center of the (supposedly) high-security site and sprinkle blood on a uranium storage site and take a hammer to the corner of one building.
They were arrested and initially charged with trespass and vandalism, as befits their crime. But officials at Oak Ridge were embarrassed by how easily the three reached such a critical component of the U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure, and by the time of the trial in May 2013, those charges had morphed into much more serious crimes including “intention to interfere, injure or obstruct the national defense,” carrying sentences of up to 30 years.
It turns out that the facility shut down for two weeks after the civil disobedience to address the serious security lapse, and prosecutors blamed the shutdown on the activists. Attorneys for the three asked the Judge to drop the charge of interfering with national security, but in an October 1, 2013 decision, he refused. He did however, indicate that he is willing to consider the non-violent nature of their action during the sentencing.
This is our opportunity to ask the Judge to recognize the difference between peace activism and sabotage and reduce the sentences accordingly. Sign the letter asking for leniency (note: action no longer available).
Our letter to Judge Thapar: