July 26, 2013 • Knoxville, TN Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire today released a letter written to Judge Amul Thapar asking him to listen to “the law, your mind, and also to your heart,” as he prepares to sentence Michael Walli, Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed for their July 28, 2012 Transform Now Plowshares action at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, an action described by the Truman National Security Project as “the worst security breach in the history of the U.S. nuclear program.”
The three peace activists conducted a nonviolent civil resistance action, breaching the ultra-secure, use-of-deadly-force-authorized zone at the Y12 facility where nuclear weapons cores are produced and painted “The Fruit of Justice is Peace” and “Transform Now Isaiah” on the sides of a warehouse storing weapons grade highly enriched uranium. They were found guilty of sabotage in May 2013 with penalties reaching up to 30 years; they are scheduled to be sentenced by Thapar on September 30.
Maguire’s letter to the judge says, “We recognize these people as colleagues in the struggle to create a more just and peaceful world and commend their action, carried out in a spirit of hope and compassion for the earth and all its inhabitants.”
Maguire, who along with her colleague Betty Williams received the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work in Northern Ireland, wrote: “We appeal to you to consider the nature and intention of these three who stand with dignity in a long line of men and women who have taken nonviolent actions throughout history to appeal to the conscience of society and its institutions for the advancement of justice, freedom and peace.”
“During the final stages of the trial of Greg, Megan and Michael, Judge Thapar determined they could not be released on bail while awaiting sentencing because they were guilty of a crime of violence,” noted Ralph Hutchison of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance. “This ruling came despite testimony even by the guards who arrested them that they were peaceful throughout. Ms. Maguire’s letter encourages the judge to try to reattach the legal process to some kind of rational mooring. It clearly came untethered in May.”
The Transform Now Plowshares activists selected Y12 as the site of their action, citing the ongoing production of nuclear weapons components there and plans to build the $11.5 billion Uranium Processing Facility to continue weapons production for decades to come.
Rice, Boertje-Obed and Walli are currently incarcerated in the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia, awaiting sentencing.
for more information
Ellen Barfield: 410 243 5876
Ralph Hutchison: 865 776 5050
Paul Magno: 202 321 6650
Mairead Maguire Letter to Federal Judge on Sentencing of Oak Ridge defendants