activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: gregory boertje-obed

activists sentenced for politically motivated break-in at tennessee nuclear facility

In July 2012, Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli, and Gregory Boertje-Obed went through three fences at the Y-12 nuclear facility with bolt cutters, splashed human blood – including blood from activist Tom Lewis of the Catonsville 9 – on a building where enriched uranium was stored, and spray-painted antiwar slogans. They were found guilty in May 2013 of depredation of government property and injuring, interfering with, or obstructing the national defense. Today Rice was sentenced to 35 months in prison, and Walli and Boertje-Obed were each sentenced to 62 months.

The July 2012 break-in amounted to the biggest security breach in the history of the U.S. atomic complex. The overall cost to the government from the break-in will probably exceed $100 million.

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three activists found guilty for politically motivated break-in at tennessee nuclear facility

The three pacifists responsible for the biggest security breach in the history of the U.S. atomic complex, which occurred last July, were found guilty yesterday. Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli, and Gregory Boertje-Obed, who broke into the Y-12 nuclear facility to publicize threats related to nuclear weapons, expected to be convicted. Yet they thought the jury might acquit them of one of the two remaining charges, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel:

It apparently was a foregone conclusion at the two-day trial that they would be convicted of depredation of government property, but defense attorneys argued long and hard in hopes of getting an acquittal on the charge of injuring, interfering with or obstructing the national defense. That charge required the government to prove they intended to disrupt the U.S. defense with their actions, and the protesters’ attorneys said that wasn’t their intent.

After the jury convicted them, they were taken to the Blount County Detention Center. A hearing today will determine whether they are eligible for release until their sentencing in three or four months. For going through three fences with bolt cutters, splashing human blood – including blood from activist Tom Lewis of the Catonsville 9 – on the building where enriched uranium is stored, and spray-painting antiwar slogans, they face decades in prison.

break-in at tennessee nuclear facility was politically motivated, not just a security breach

The Y-12 nuclear facility, where the U.S. keeps enough highly enriched uranium for thousands of nuclear weapons, was supposed to be one of the most secure sites in the world. Yet on July 28, three pacifists at the facility achieved the biggest security breach in the history of the U.S. atomic complex. Sister Megan Rice, 82, Michael Walli, 63, and Gregory Boertje-Obed, 57, went through three fences with bolt cutters, splashed human blood on the new building where enriched uranium is stored, and spray-painted antiwar slogans.

For trespassing and destroying government property, federal prosecutors charged each of them with two felonies and one misdemeanor, which together carry penalties of up to 16 years in prison and up to $600,000 in fines. They pled not guilty and their trial is set for October 10.

While media coverage has focused to a large degree on the security breach, the activists broke into the facility to publicize threats related to nuclear weapons, not the facility’s vulnerability. According to their communiqué,

This program is an ongoing criminal endeavor in violation of international treaty law binding on the United States… For the sake of the whole human family threatened by nuclear weapons, and for the sake of our Planet Earth, which is abused and violated, we indict the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear weapon facility and all government officials, agencies, and contractors as responsible for perpetuating these war crimes.