Transform Now Plowshares: SECOND ANNIVERSARY STATEMENT FROM MEGAN, MICHAEL & GREG

From Transform Now Plowshares:

OPEN LETTER FROM THE BROOKLYN METROPOLITAN DETENTION CENTER
from Sr. Megan Rice, on behalf of the Transform Now Plowshares
July 28, 2014

Our Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We send warm greetings and many thanks to all who actively engage in the transformation of weapons of mass destruction to sustainable life-giving alternatives. Gregory Boertje-Obed (U.S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas) Michael Walli (Federal Correctional Institution McKean, Bradford, Pennsylvania) and I are sending you some of our observations and concerns on the 2nd anniversary of our Transform Now Plowshares action.

On July 28, 2012, after thorough study of nuclear issues, and because of our deepening commitment to nonviolence, we engaged in direct action by cutting through four fences at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the U.S. continues to overhaul and upgrade thermonuclear warheads.

On that day, two years ago, when we reached the building where all U.S. highly-enriched (bomb-grade) uranium is stored, we prayed and also wrote messages on the wall, such as “The Fruit of Justice is Peace”. (Realistically, the higher and stronger fences built as a result of our nonviolent incursion can never keep humans safe from inherently dangerous materials and weapons.) We acted humbly as “creative extremists for love”, to cite one of our most important and revered leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are a number of reasons for what we did. We three were acutely mindful of the widespread loss to humanity that nuclear systems have already caused, and we realize that all life on Earth could be exterminated through intentional, accidental, or technical error.

Our action at the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge exposed the storage of weapons-making materials deliberately hidden from the general public. The production, refurbishment, threat, or use of these weapons of mass destruction violate the fundamental rules and principles by which we all try to live amicably as human beings. The United States Constitution and the Laws of War are intended to ensure the survival of humanity with dignity. However, it is abundantly clear that harmony and cooperation among nations can never be achieved with nuclear weapons. (These arguments, we assume, will be made on our behalf during the eventual appeal of our convictions that accused us of sabotage, though it was never our intention to harm our country.)

Our “crime” was to draw attention to the criminality of the 70-year-old nuclear industry itself and to the unconscionable fact that the United States spends more on nuclear weapons than on education, health, transportation, and disaster relief combined.

We three Transform Now Plowshares consider it our duty, right, and privilege to heighten tension in the ongoing debate of Disarmament vs. Deterrence because history has repeatedly taught us that the policy of deterrence doesn’t lead to security, but rather to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. During our trial, the U.S. prosecutors and the U.S. courts accused the wrong people when they claimed that we violated the law, because what we did was to make America’s citizens aware of egregious preparations for mass murder.

We took action because we were acutely aware that our government has failed to keep its long-standing promise to pursue nuclear disarmament. (As Ramsey Clark testified during one of our pre-trial hearings, the U.S. entered into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the 1960’s because our country was finally facing up to the severe human and environmental consequences of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as to the hideous results of countless nuclear tests conducted by the U.S. government within and beyond our own borders.)

One of our pressing concerns is that U.S. prosecutors and the courts adhere to an obsolete view of security with no cognizance – or consciousness – of the horrific effects caused by nuclear weapons. Greg, Mike, and I believe that, undeniably, the U.S. is in a state of denial. It’s what Hannah Arendt called not evil, but the banality of evil. “There’s nothing deep about it. It’s nothing demonic! There’s simply the reluctance ever to imagine what the other person is experiencing, right?” (Hannah Arendt, “Eichmann was Outrageously Stupid” in The Last Interview and Other Conversations, Melville House, Brooklyn 2013, p. 48).

We citizens cannot permit ourselves to be rendered passive and mute by the banality of evil! Only complete nuclear disarmament can save humanity. At stake is the honor and dignity of the Hibakusha, along with the physical, environmental, emotional, and psychological trauma long suffered by victims of the nuclear system, from uranium miners to down-winders. (From 1946 to 1958, Marshall Islanders were bombarded with 67 atomic and thermonuclear tests that were carried out by the United States.)

Michael Walli, Greg Boertje-Obed and I are in U.S. prisons because, ironically, our action at Oak Ridge was based on the common sense reality that we human beings have endured more than enough destruction and exploitation. We believe that we citizens can exercise our collective power to consciously transform our nation’s priorities. We all need to actively insist on more humane uses for the billions of dollars now budgeted for the nuclear weapons/industrial complex.

Two years ago, as we neared the building in Oak Ridge, we were extremely surprised by the ineffectiveness of the system that supposedly guarded our nation’s most important National Security Complex. We believed that we were about to expose the source of unfettered violence that has led to the chronic spiritual and economic decline in the U.S. As it turned out, it was the laxity of the security system at Y-12 that caught the attention of the courts and the mainstream media. Security weakness became the big story. There was no mainstream acknowledgement that the national security complex is rotting from its own irrelevance.

Most surprisingly, our July 2012 action and our court cases have revealed that it is not the U.S. government that is in control of the nuclear weapons complex, but in reality it is the corporations that are in control through their solicitation and manipulation of endless funding for the refurbishment of unlawful thermonuclear warheads. We three are incarcerated because we stood up to a nuclear weapons industry that is kept thriving by the interlocking and obsolete institutions that subscribe to the long-discredited notion that law and security can be enforced by ever-greater force.

Regarding the 22.8 billion dollar contract recently awarded for the operation of the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge and the Pantex site in Texas for the refurbishment of thermonuclear warheads and a new Uranium Processing Facility (UPF), the relevant corporations don’t actually operate under the long-discredited myth of “nuclear deterrence”. Rather, corporations such as Babcock and Wilcox, Lockheed, and Bechtel operate under limited liability subsidiaries, joint ventures, consortiums, and partnerships for the main purpose of making profits by engaging in huge nuclear weapons production/refurbishment contracts. By this time, Congress certainly is aware that valid contracts can be issued only for the dismantlement of all nuclear weapons and for the environmentally-sound treatment and disposition of all nuclear materials.

In order for the U.S. to negotiate for nuclear disarmament in good faith, we say it is essential to peaceably transform these very corporations so that they are no longer able to violate the most basic moral and legal principles of civilized society by deliberately precipitating planetary self-destruction.

We thank you for your letters and your concerns. We ask you to support the Republic of the Marshall Islands in their current legal actions against the United States in U.S. federal court and against the U.S. and all the other nuclear weapons states in the International Court of Justice, for failure to eliminate their respective nuclear arsenals. You can learn more and add your support by signing the petition at http://www.nuclearzero.org.

Blessings,
Greg, Michael and Megan

More news about the Transform Now Plowshares:  
Appeal filed for Transform Now Plowshares seeks reversal of convictions (Aug. 5, 2014)

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Petition for sr. Megan Rice

Sixteen years in prison is not enough? Sister Megan Rice and her friends, all peace activists, already face 16 years in prison if convicted for a nonviolent peace action. Sister Megan, Greg Boertje-Obed, and Michael Walli went to Oak Ridge, Tennesse, to say NO to nuclear holocaust. Instead of dropping charges, the US Attorney General and the Department of Justice are considering two additional charges against this 82-year-old nun and two U.S. veterans, both sabotage charges. One carries 20 years and the other 30 years in prison. With the new charges, the defendants would face a maximum of 65 years in prison. This is the equivalent of a death sentence.

Megan, Greg, and Michael called their action “Transform Now Plowshares,” and brought nothing more dangerous than flashlights, binoculars, bolt cutters, bread, flowers, a Bible, and household hammers to Oak Ridge. They hammered on the walls of a storage facility to symbolize the disarming and abolition of nuclear weapons. The real danger to society is not this nun and two veterans, but instead the facility they want to transform. This unconstitutional facility holds enough weapons grade uranium to make more than 10,000 nuclear weapons, far more than what scientists say is needed to destroy life on earth.

Please join in this petition to the Attorney General of the United States asking him to refuse to authorize additional charges: 16 years in prison for revealing the criminality and insecurity of nuclear weapons production smacks of killing the messenger for the failings of the king.

For more see here.
To contribute to this work for nuclear disarmament, click here.
To sign the petition: here.

More on the case: Woe to the empire of blood, part II and part III.

From A Pinch of Salt.

Transform Now Plowshares action at Y-12 nuclear weapons complex

[See for further updates: http://transformnowplowshares.wordpress.com/ ]

From: Nuclear Resister, July 28, 2012:

Before dawn on July 28, 2012, Michael R. Walli (63), Megan Rice shcj (82), and Greg Boertje-Obed (57) carried out a disarmament action at the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear facility.

Calling themselves Transform Now Plowshares, they hammered on the cornerstone of the newly built Highly-Enriched Uranium Manufacturing Facility (HEUMF), splashed human blood and left four spray painted tags on the recent construction which read: Woe to the empire of blood; The fruit of justice is peace; Work for peace not for war; and Plowshares please Isaiah.

Under the cover of darkness they intermittently passed beyond four fences in a walk for over two hours through the fatal force zone. “We feel it was a miracle; we were led directly to where we wanted to go” said Greg.

After navigating through the complex they came to a long, white, windowless building marked HEUMF. “It was built like a fortress”, Greg said describing the four guard towers.

Unimpeded by security, they attached two banners to pillars of the building. “Transform Now Plowshares” read the first with a green and black icon showing part bomb part flower. A second stated “Swords into Plowshares Spears into Pruning Hooks–Isaiah”. In addition, between the pillars they strung red crime tape.

When confronted by a guard they read aloud their statement. “He was on his walkie-talkie but he heard it” Megan confirmed. Before receiving orders to halt they had opportunity to offer guards bread, and display a bible, candles and white roses. Though initially forced to endure a kneeling posture for an extended period, guards responded to complaint and allowed the activists to stand off and on. Meanwhile they continued singing.

Later that day, they were interviewed by the DOE investigative unit and given conditional charges of two felony counts for vandalism and trespass. They spoke to supporters from Blount County Jail at 12:30 pm saying they had not been processed yet. All are scheduled for arraignment in Blount County Court on Monday.
“We’re still opposing the filthy rotten system” Michael said. “Jesus has no nukes in heaven and no torture in heaven.”

Please send letters of support.

RETURN ADDRES MUST HAVE FULL NAME AND FULL ADDRESS OR INMATE WILL NOT RECEIVE MAIL.
[money order only, if mailed]
INMATE’S FULL NAME: _____________
BLOUNT COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
920 E. LAMAR ALEXANDER PARKWAY
MARYVILLE, TN 37804-5022

————-
From: Transform Now Plowshares, July 30, 2012:

Michael Walli, Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed made their initial appearance before federal magistrate Bruce Guyton in Knoxville, Tennessee at 11:15am today—Monday, July 30, 2012. The proceedings were nearly over before Greg required the judge to read the charges against them—the trio were charged with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor, for their Transform Now Plowshares action on Saturday, July 28 at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

In court, the defendants were calm and composed. They spoke clearly, answering the judge’s questions directly. It was a pro forma hearing until the judge asked them each if they had a chance to review the complaint against them.

“Yes,” answered Mike Walli, the first to be questioned. Do you have any questions, the judge asked. “I note the charge listed relates only to what I have done,” Mike said, “and does not include the illegal nuclear weapons production taking place at Y12.”

The judge moved on to ask Megan Rice the same series of questions. When he got to “Have you had a chance to review and do you understand the charges contained in the document?” Megan answered, “It is incomprehensible that our charge against the activities at Y12 is not part of this conversation.” Megan referred to the indictment against Y12 the activists carried with them (and which was released after the action by supporters).

The judge moved on to Greg, asking him if he understood the complaint. Greg, who was representing himself, said, “I thought you were going to ask me if I wanted the complaint read first.” The judge smiled and said, “You’re right, I should do that. You are representing yourself quite well.” Then he went on to ask Greg the question he had already put to Mike and Megan, who had waived the reading. Greg answered that he normally prefers to have the charges read publicly. It was only then the public heard the formal charge— “that you willfully and without authorization entered the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Y12 Complex…” The language of the charge mirrors the authorizing statute—the three were charged with simple trespass, a criminal misdemeanor charge punishable by a fine of up to $100,000 and a sentence of up to one year imprisonment and one additional year of post release supervision.

No charges for destruction of property or defacing property were entered at the hearing, though they could come later.

The judge assigned Chris Irwin to represent Mike Walli, a reunion of sorts. Chris represented Mike during the proceedings following the July 5, 2010 action at Y12. Francis Lloyd was appointed to represent Megan Rice —Francis represented Jean Gump during the 2010 proceedings. Greg Boertje-Obed was given permission to represent himself, and the public defender, Bobby Hudson, was assigned to be “elbow counsel.”

When the prosecutor, Melissa Kirby, listed reasons for denying bail to the defendants (they all waived their rights to a hearing), she noted they had “bragged about their action to the media,” and were flight risks, etc. Mike Walli noted for the judge that he had been released in 2010 and appeared “under my own steam as agreed,” for all hearings and the trial. Francis Lloyd noted the defendants had made no statements to the media that were not protected under the first amendment; Greg noted that Plowshares actions are carried out in obedience to Isaiah’s prophecy that swords shall be turned into plowshares, that Ms. Kirby was wrong to characterize Plowshares as “an organization,” and noted that in similar actions in other jurisdictions, judges had permitted testimony about international law and some juries have found defendants not guilty.

In all, the proceedings took about half an hour and concluded with the scheduling of a preliminary hearing on Thursday, August 2, at 1:30pm EDST, in East Tennessee District Court in Knoxville, TN. Until then, it is expected the defendants will be held at Blount County Detention Facility. You can write to them at:

INMATE’S FULL NAME: _____________
BLOUNT COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
920 E. LAMAR ALEXANDER PARKWAY
MARYVILLE, TN 37804-5022

RETURN ADDRESS MUST HAVE FULL NAME AND FULL ADDRESS OR INMATE WILL NOT RECEIVE MAIL.

Our history with Blount County is pretty sketchy with regard to mail. The 2010 Y12 protestors were denied mail because “we don’t have the staff to screen the quantity of mail you are getting.” So we encourage mail, but be aware it may come back to a month later, unopened, at the whim of jail authorities.

A STATEMENT FOR THE Y-12 FACILIITY

“Come let us go up

to the mountain of God

to the house where God lives.

That God may teach us God’s ways

That we may walk in God’s paths….

For God will bring justice among the nations and bring peace between many peoples. They will hammer their swords into plowshares

and their spears into pruning hooks. Nations will not lift swords against nations. No longer will they learn to make war.

Come, let us walk in the light of God.” Isaiah 2

Brothers and sisters, powers that be, we come to you today as friends, in love. We, like many of you, are people of faith, inspired by many who have gone before us, people like the prophets, Isaiah and Micah, Jesus as well as Gandhi, and the countless who call us ‘to beat swords into plowshares’. May we now transform weapons into real, life-giving alternatives, to build true peace.

We come to the Y-12 facility because our very humanity rejects the designs of nuclearism, empire and war. Our faith in love and nonviolence encourages us to believe that our activity here is necessary; that we come to invite transformation, undo the past and present work of Y-12; disarm and end any further efforts to increase the Y-12 capacity for an economy and social structure based upon war-making and empire-building.

A loving and compassionate Creator invites us to take the urgent and decisive steps to transform the U.S. empire, and this facility, into life-giving alternatives which resolve real problems of poverty and environmental degradation for all.

We begin together by preparing our minds and hearts for this transformation. And so we bring gifts to symbolize this transformation, instruments that serve life, peace and harmony, truth and healing to this nuclear weapons plant and everywhere.

We bring our life-symbols: blood, for healing and pouring out our lives in service and love. Our very humanity depends on lives given, not taken. But blood also reminds us of the horrific spilling of blood by nuclear weapons.

-our hammers, to begin the transforming work of deconstructing war machines, creating new jobs which address real problems, eliminate poverty, heal and foster the fullness of life for all.

We bring our truth-symbols: candles, for light transforms fear and secrecy into authentic security;

-flowers, the White Rose of forgiveness, acceptance of friendship and genuine reconciliation.

-the crime tape and an Indictment, which point out truth and end lies which have blinded and dulled the very conscience of nations, and serve the interests of justice for healing global relationships.

-a Bible, to remind ourselves to become sources of wisdom and to inspire our acts of conscience as we carry on.

Lastly we bring food, symbolized by this bread, strengthening us as we build this new world where people do not feel compelled to build nuclear weapons in order to feed their families. So may we break and share this bread together in joy and genuine friendship as we work together, empowered by our Creating God

TO TRANSFORM NOW!

Michael Walli Greg Boertje-Obed Megan Rice shcj

Transform Now Plowshares