Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Mapping our Connections - Looking to the Future"

32nd Annual Alternative New Year Gathering
 Celebrate Life Instead of Nuclear Madness. For over 3 decades Southern peace and justice activists have gathered on New Year's Eve at the gates of Kings Bay Trident Nuclear Submarine Base to protest this Cold War, Offensive First Strike Thermo-nuclear Weapons System. Each sub having 24 Trident Missles, each Missle having 8 warheads makes this the center of nuclear madness and an unneccessary risk to life on this planet....
Monday, December 30, 2013 to New Year's Day, January 1, 2014!  
We are expecting a good crowd with folks coming from FL, GA, AL, NC, SC.

Gathering is at the Crooked River State Park,  located 7 miles north of St. Mary's, GA on Spur 40.  Go to for more details on all that is offered in this beautiful state park.   (see directions below)  

There is still cottage/bed space available.  Please call or email now if you want to reserve your place call  828.301.6683 or  Email New South Network

ARRIVAL: Monday, December 30th.  Check-in starts at 4 p.m.  Upon arrival, purchase a parking pass for your vehicle ($5) at the Office. Cabin fees will be settled with the Cottage Contact in your cabin.
  COST:  Space in a shared cottage is approx. $20 per night, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on how many share the space.  Please make arrangements to pay your Cottage Contact your share of the expense.

ACCOMMODATIONS:  Each cottage is furnished with two or three bedrooms with two queen size beds in each bedroom. Linens, some towels, a living room, and a furnished kitchen with stove, refrigerator, and some pots and pans and utensils (including coffee maker and toaster).


Clothing:  Check the weather for Camden County, GA and bring clothes appropriate.  It can get pretty cool at night, especially for our Candlelight Peace Ritual at the Gate to the Base on New Year's Eve.
 Towels:  An extra towel or two is a good idea
Food:  We will have a community potluck dinner on Monday evening (6:30 p.m., Cottage #2 - O'Byrnes are bringing the turkey) and a community potluck dinner on Tuesday evening before the New Year's Eve ritual.  Please bring side dishes, casseroles, vegetables, etc. to share for these 2 meals.
 For breakfasts and lunches, coordinate with your Cottage-mates as to what each of you can bring for those meals in each of your cottages.

CANDLE HOLDER for Tuesday night Candlelight Peace Ritual at the Gate:  Cleaned-out gallon or half-gallon plastic milk container works well.  Simply cut off the bottom of the plastic jug, leaving the handle and screw cap in which to drip wax and hold the candle.  

LITERATURE or MERCHANDISE from your Peace Group:  We will have a table for these.

MUSIC, POETRY, READINGS:  Please bring your instruments, CD's and other creative offerings to share with the group on New Year's Eve. Bring a CD player if you need one, as they are not provided in the cottages.


Monday, Dec 30th
3:00 - 5:00 P.M. - Stimson Gate -- signs and leafleting against nuclear weapons
4:00 P.M.  -  Check-in begins
Storytelling time: Listening to Movement Elders
6:30 P.M.  -  Community Pot Luck Dinner and Group Sharing -- Cottage #2

Tuesday, Dec 31st
Breakfast in Cottages
Various speakers and topics throughout the day - Times and Locations To Be Announced: 
  •  John and Martina Linnehan -- The Great March for  Climate Action 
  • Ann and Haven Whiteside -- Israel/Palestine Trip 
  • Frank and Lucy Fuchs and Anne Richter -- El Salvador trip 
  • Clare Hanrahan & Coleman Smith -- "From Atomic Appalachia to Kings Bay: Connecting the Nuclear Dots in the Southeast" 
  • Sam Marshall --  How to exist In a world in  economic collapse--a discussion 
  • Open Source Scheduling for Other Interests ( Sign up when you get there) 

6:00 P.M.  -  Community Pot Luck Dinner -- Cottage #2
7:30 P.M.  -  New Year's Eve Candlelight Peace Ritual at the Gate
 Wednesday, Jan 1st
Breakfast in Cottages
9:00 A.M.  -  Wrap-Up, Evaluation, Planning for Next Year's Gathering -- Cottage #2
11:00 A.M. -  Check out

 DIRECTIONS:  Crooked River State Park is located 7 miles north of St. Mary's, GA on Spur 40.  Go to  for more details on all that is offered in this beautiful state park, located at 6222 Charlie Smith Sr. Highway, St. Marys, GA 31558.

1.  Take I-95, Exit 3
2.  Take Georgia State Highway 40 towards St. Mary's
3.  Turn left onto Kings Bay Road (This will take you to the intersection of Kings Bay Rd & Spur 40 where the Stimson Gate and our Monday leafleting will take place 3:00-5:00 p.m.)
4.  Turn left onto Spur 40.  Crooked River State Park is impossible to miss as Spur 40 ends right there.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Under a Blue Sky in Tennessee

We followed the back roads from the great Appalachian Mountains to the Mighty Mississippi, this Fall with presentations in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, finding hospitality along the way with friends and family.

In August, New South Network activists Clare Hanrahan and Redmoonsong visited with Bro. Utsumi & Sr. Denise of the Nipponzon Myohoji Buddhist Order at the Great Smoky Mountains Peace Pagoda near Newport, Tennessee.  Work is underway with dedicated volunteers and, when completed, the Peace Pagoda will be visible from miles around, including to those traveling through East Tennessee on Interstate 40. Bro. Utsumi & Sr. Denise will be leading their 11th annual peace walk to Fort Benning and the SOA Watch vigil November 16th through 24th. 

Sign-painting table in Johnson City
In September Coleman and Clare were up around Johnson City, in the Eastern mountains of Tennessee for an activist picnic with Everyone Acting Together in Solidarity. EATS is an outgrowth of the Tri Cities Occupy Movement and is doing great work on issues of social justice, environmental activism and community building.

 In October at the Appalachian Public Interest and Environmental Law Conference in Knoxville we joined with several hundred eco-minded and socially conscious activists, attorneys, students and scientists working to achieve environmental and social justice throughout Appalachia and surrounding areas.
Brethern Pastor Ken Edwards of Jonesboro, Tenn.

Keynote speaker Tom Butler of the Foundation for Deep Ecology, editor of Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth made a compelling presentation as a voice for the inherent rights of wild nature, challenging the view of the natural world as "commodity."
While there we connected and reconnected with folks working on many fronts for environmental and social justice, including Ken Edwards, Brethren Pastor and member of the Appalachian Peace Education Center and Aerojet Action Project. We met with Ken in Jonesboro, Tenn. in August when he hosted the Christian Peacemaker Teams in town to raise awareness of the environmental and human rights impacts of  Aerojet/Rockedyne, a Jonesboro based plant manufacturing "depleted" uranium weapons and polluting the soil and water with uranium.

OREPA Sunday vigil outside gates of Oak Ridge bomb plant
The climate for environmental activism in Tennessee has its challenges.  In June 2013 Huffington Post reported on the chilling remarks of the deputy director of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's (TDEC) Division Of Water Resources who warned a public assembly: " need to make sure that when you make water quality complaints you have a basis, because federally, if there's no water quality issues, that can be considered under Homeland Security an act of terrorism."  Nothing new there. The Green Scare rears its head everywhere people speak and act on behalf of the Earth.

Educating & Activating along the road
In Oak Ridge, Tenn. we joined with friends from Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance at their long-standing Sunday vigil at the gates of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)nuclear bomb plant. The 35,000 acre site contains hundreds contaminated areas and contaminated surface water and sediment outside the boundary fence,  including the Poplar Creek, the Clinch River, and lower Watts Bar Reservoir of the Tennessee River. From EPA Superfund info. We appreciated the overnight hospitality of Eric & Libby Johnson in Maryville.  On the way to Nashville we passed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Kingston Fossil Plant in Harriman. On December 22, 2008, a failure of the  dike used to contain fly ash spilled over one billion gallons of fly ash sludge into Watts Barr Lake and the Emory River. The environmental catastrophe was 100 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, which released 10.9 million gallons of crude oil.

In Nashville we were hosted by the Nashville Peace Coalition to present our PowerPoint:  Environmental Impact: Atomic Appalachia & the Militarized SouthEast.We appreciated the warm welcome at the Nashville Friends Meeting and the overnight hospitality at Nashville Greenlands, a Catholic Worker Urban Agriculture community, home to legendary war tax resister Karl Meyer.

Traveling West we detoured to Milan, Tennessee, and the WWII era Army Ammunition Plant. The 22,540-acre site is on the EPA Superfund list of most contaminated sites. It has a ground water contamination plume that continues to spread. The once thriving ammunition plant is now a desolate-looking wasteland.  Primary include 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) and RDX, also known as cyclonite.

Janice Vandarhaar with Atty. Jeribu Hill 
We were in Memphis for the 10th Annual Gandhi-King conference organized by our long time friends at the Mid South Peace & Justice Center. The Keynote speakers were two powerful voices for justice:  Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, speaking on the dangerous use of weaponized  Drones, and Attorney Jeribu Hill, orator and organizer extraordinaire of the Mississippi Workers Center, fighting for the human rights of low-wage workers. Both women spoke with compelling urgency and a call to action.

Setting the Record straight
Memphis is Clare's hometown, and while there we visited the Viet Nam Veterans memorial in Overton Park, taking action to add the names of her two brothers, Dan & Tom, and remembrance of all the victims of PTSD, Agent Orange and Suicide whose names have yet to be etched on the war memorials.  Clare has joined the VFP working group on an alternative/accurate/counter commemoration of the American war in Viet Nam.

We took time out to spend an evening on Beale Street with VFP's Elliott Adams and enjoyed warm Memphis hospitality with Clare's brother Robert and family.

Visiting family & discussing the persistence of racism in Memphis
Coleman Smith & Rev. Charles Utley of S.C. at NRC hearing
 Back home in Asheville, we took the bus to Charlotte, North Carolina to testify before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to emphatically say:  "No More Nukes: We have no confidence in the NRC to safely manage 70,000 tons of existing nuclear waste. Don't make any more! There is no safe level of radiation.

Tennessee is the only state that incinerates nuclear waste, and the state accepted into municipal landfills 38,343,961 lbs of radioactive waste. In 2000, Tennessee accepted 75% of the nations' so-called low-level radioactive waste. 

We're back on the road in November where Clare will be presenting our Powerpoint on Atomic Appalachia and Militarism's environmental impact in the South at the Drone Summit and Coleman will be in Columbus, Ga. at work with the Puppetista Collective for the SOA Watch vigil at the gates of Fort Benning.  In December we've been asked to present at the U.S. Human Rights Forum in Atlanta.  Stay tuned for reports.

Thanks to the ongoing support of our local friends for helping to keep us on the road.  Your support is welcome and much needed to keep us on the ground weaving connections in the Southeast. We especially need help to get to Fort Benning for the annual SOA Watch vigil at the gates.

Photos & Story by Clare Hanrahan

Folks I've just been down, down to Memphis town,
That's where the people smile, smile on you all the while.
Hospitality, they were good to me.
I couldn't spend a dime, and had the grandest time.

The Memphis Blues  (1912)
by W. C. Handy (music) and George A. Norton (lyrics)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"A Rose by any other name..."

New South Network of War Resisters' eclectic table of literature and info.
Dateline Johnson City, Tenn.
September 14, 2013

"A rose by any other name would smell 
as sweet."

Shakespeare's Juliet argues that the names of things do not matter, only what things "are."

The folks in Johnson City are demonstrating the truth of that adage.  They are keeping the best of the Occupy movement alive, building friendships throughout the mountain region, strengthening activism and  "promoting healthy communities through mutual aid."

Everyone Acting Together in Solidarity (EATS). put out the call to all comers for a "Free To You BBQ" on Saturday afternoon. And eat we did!  As a line up of talented mountain musicians kept the music flowing, a team of volunteers cooked up a feast seasoned with wide smiles and hearty hellos.

EATS organizer Lou P. on task at the BBQ
The picnic was held at the Old Kiwanis Park, a block or so from the James H Quillen V.A. Medical Center, so our assortment of literature from our Veterans for Peace 099 Chapter in Asheville was well received. 

Smiling servers at the "Free to You BBQ"
Many folks picked up copies of the War Crimes Times! which we distribute throughout the region, and keychains with the GI Rights Hotline Number. In the Volunteer State of Tennessee, there are many, many veterans struggling with the emotional and physical consequences of going to war.

Johnson City is just over the mountains from Asheville, NC. We crossed over the Appalachian Trail and past beautiful farmland and breathtaking mountain scenery.

"Mr. Paintman" mixing up colors
The beauty of Atomic Appalachia belies the nuclear dangers: We passed Erwin and the Nuclear Fuel Services Uranium enrichment facility that supplies fuel for the first-strike Trident Nuclear Submarines. We also drove  past the nearby road leading to the story-telling city of  Jonesborough, where one story is kept far too quiet: the presence of the Aero-Jet Ordnance weaponized uranium bullet factory, components of the widespread Military Industrial Complex that has such a devastating impact in the South.
Kevin, the Irish Balladeer

There were nice people everywhere in the park, sharing information, mountain music and art.

Coleman, who the kids came to call "Mr. Paint man"  brought cardboard and paint and set up a poster making table.  The kids loved it!
Something for Everyone at the EATS picnic

Clare was happy to see her old friend and fellow Irish traveller Retha Ferrell, who entertained us with mountain music under a shade tree, followed by Irish balladeer Kevin.   Inside, as folks shared the meal, two more lovely mountain musicians added their lilting voices to the day.

Thanks to  Everyone Acting Together in Solidarity( EATS!) and all who had a hand in making the gathering so fun.

Story and photos by Clare Hanrahan
On the Ground in the Southeast

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Weaving the Fabric of Resistance in Southeast

We've been asserting First Amendment rights in Asheville and throughout the Southeast this year, building relationships and alliances across issues and campaigns - working to stimulate strategic discussion on the environmental, economic, and cultural impacts of the Military Industrial Complex on the Southeast.

Backbone Campaign's Bill Moyers: Arrest  Rumsfeld!
In April we traveled to Dallas to join others who brought some truth telling to the ceremonial opening of the G.W. Bush "Lie-bury" at Southern Methodist University. It was good to be with such a feisty group of committed and capable organizers in Dallas. It was especially fun to have the opportunity to play in the streets and practice the craft of projection art with tactical arts master Bill Moyer of the  Backbone Campaign.

Clare and and her friend Kit Jones, a Fort Worth activist on the Move-On council and a sister SMU alumna, shared some luminous direct action, projecting "Arrest Bush" messages on the side of a downtown Dallas building.

New South Network's presentation War On Earth! Atomic Appalachia and the Militarized Southeast: Environmental Impact was well received,  both in Dallas and later back in Asheville at the National War Tax Resisters May gathering. As members of the local planning group, we organized and hosted this four day national convergence, providing local hospitality and program for scores of long-time war tax refusing activists, those just beginning war tax refusal and other interested persons.
NWTRCC Activists take to the streets in Asheville: Resisting War and Redirecting Resources

Linda Modica, Jerry Condon, Helen Jaccard & Coleman Smith
Following the NWTRCC gathering we welcomed to Asheville, Jerry Condon and Helen Jaccard, of VFP's Environmental Costs of War & Militarism National Working Group.  Linda Modica of nearby Jonesborough, Tenn. came to Asheville to talk about the work to expose Aero-Jet Ordnance DU weapons making and its environmental impacts in the tiny mountain community of Jonesborough.

As veteran peace activists and associate VFP members, we are collaborating with the VFP working group and others as we continue our travels in the militarized Southeast presenting on militarism's environmental impact. We are always appreciative of any help to keep us on the road.

 Asheville rally against Genetically Engineered Trees.
In May we participated as Legal Observers supporting a rally and week long series of events protesting Genetically Engineered Trees. The week of education and resistance, energized by  Earth First!, Global Justice Ecology Project and the STOP GE Trees Campaign, took place in conjunction with the International Tree Biotechnology 2013 Conference.

In mid July, we joined with Linda Modica, and other members of Erwin Citizens' Awareness Network to welcome the Chicago-based Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT ) Jonesborough, Tenn. for a week of research, canvassing, and action to draw attention to the environmental costs of depleted uranium weapons production at Aero-Jet Ordnance. CPT places teams at the invitation of local communities that are confronting situations of conflict, often in war zones. The DU munitions factory is located in the small mountain town of Jonesborough, Tennessee, known as the Storytelling Capital of the World. 
CPT: Telling the story: Weaponized Uranium in Jonesborough

There is a very dark story unfolding in Jonesborough. It is disconcerting to realize that this lovely, peaceful community  not only has DU contaminated water and soil within it's limits, and contributes to 95 miles of downstream and multi-state downwind radioactive contamination, but is also the site of an ongoing War Crime due to the nature of Depleted Uranium weapons' radioactive contamination of battlefields around the globe. Some of this radiation persists for billions of years affecting future generations with a silent killer. This is in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions which prohibit the use of weapons with Inter-generational impact.  

With so many current sabres rattling to carry on the War Mongering Profiteering, where does a war resister turn next? 

Bro. Utsumi helps launch Peace Lanterns on Nagasaki Day
We remembered Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance in early August. On the same day we could have been at a related Vigil at the gates of the Kings Bay Trident Nuclear Submarine Base in St. Mary's, Georgia. We had to miss the 30th year remembrance of the actions against the School of the Americas at the Gates of Fort Benning, Georgia on the same day.      
With Sr. Megan Rice at Courthouse

Sentencing in Knoxville is September 30th for the three Disarm Now Plowshares who took bold action to reveal the inherent insecurity of the Oak Ridge Nuclear Weapons Y-12 complex. 

Now there's Syria .... Please look us up again for more reports from the militarized Southeast and all the people rising to End This Perpetual War.

Report and Photos by Hanrahan & Smith: On the Ground in the Southeast

Saturday, May 11, 2013

“Woe Unto the Empire of Blood” – Transform Now Plowshares Convicted and Jailed

Mike Walli, Sr. Megan Rice & Gregg Boetje-Obed, & wife Michelle

“We’re here fighting every day,” 
Shelly Wascom, a longtime organizer with the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA) said as people from fifteen states, and as far away as Arizona and Vermont, gathered at the First Presbyterian Church in Knoxville in support of the Transform Now! Plowshares. Sister Megan Rice, 83, Michael Walli 64, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, faced felony charges of injuring the national defense and damaging government property for their protest inside the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

In the pre-dawn hours of July 28, 2012, unarmed, undetected and undeterred, the three elders walked on to the Y-12 bomb plant in a symbolic act of nonviolent resistance to the continued production of nuclear weapons. In the tradition of the Christian Plowshares movement, they carried hammers, blood, Bibles, and bread as they inched their way down a wooded slope inside the perimeter fence of the bomb plant. Carrying white roses and wielding yellow and red-handled bolt cutters, they cut through three more fences, defeating the so-called  “perimeter intrusion detection and assessment system.”   

In a zone posted with the warning that “deadly force is authorized,” they lit candles, unfurled banners, scattered leaflets, poured the frozen blood of a deceased Plowshares activist, painted “Biblical graffiti,” and hammered on a corner of the concrete guard tower. 

In courtroom testimony, Sr. Megan Rice said she felt led by the Holy Spirit, and was “more and more surprised” to find herself reaching the highly enriched uranium materials facility, HEUMF., where they spray-painted on the bunker’s northwest corner, “Woe Unto the Empire of Blood.”  The HEUMF stores as much as 400 tons of the radioactive material, shipped from throughout the U.S. and the world, to a facility referred to several times in the courtroom as “the Fort Knox of uranium.”  No one was there to greet them, despite a security apparatus costing as much as $150 million dollars a year.

In Knoxville on May 8, after two days of argument and testimony and with just 2 1/2 hours of deliberation,  the federal jury of nine men and three women found the three seniors guilty of both charges: damaging government property over $1,000, and injuring the national defense, a sabotage charge levied by the prosecution after the defendants refused a plea agreement on a trespass charge and asserted their right to a trial.  The real damage, as testimony would later reveal,  was to the credibility of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Y-12 and the U.S. government.

After the guilty verdict, and at the request of the prosecution, the three defendants were immediately taken to the Knox County Sheriff's Detention Facility for the night.

According to reports from supporters who found a seat in the small courtroom on May 8, a frustrated District Judge Amur Thapar asked the prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Kirby and  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Theodore, "Don't you find it a little troubling that Congress would write a law that wouldn't let me distinguish between peace activists and terrorists?"  According to the law, the conviction of “injuring the national defense,” is a sabotage charge and considered violent, thus mandating incarceration prior to sentencing.  

The defendants were returned to the courtroom in shackles and tan prison garb May 9 and again on May 10 as defense attorneys Bill Quigley, of New Orleans, and Knoxville based Chris Irwin, and Francis Lloyd, Jr. discussed case law with the judge and prosecutor, arguing that the prosecution had not produced evidence of sabotage nor had they proved the "intent" of the three defendants was to injure, interfere or obstruct the national defense.

On May 10, according to Frank Munger, writing on his Atomic CityUnderground blog , the judge ruled that “defendants will be held until sentencing,” on September 23, 2013.  They each face a maximum of 30 years.

"It is very humbling to be in touch with folks like this who put so much on the line for what they believe,” said Knoxville resident and longtime OREPA supporter Todd Shelton. He credited his conservative parents’ teaching of “fairness and justice” for his support of the Transform Now Plowshares trio. 

Atomic Appalachia
Among the close to 200 supporters present throughout the trial, fifteen people traveled over the mountains of Atomic Appalachia from Asheville, N.C., following a National War Tax Resistance conference. Asheville is at the nuclear crossroads for radioactive materials transport. Another carload came from the Jonesborough and Erwin, Tennessee, where AeroJet Ordnance produces “depleted” uranium bullets and Nuclear FuelServices processes highly enriched uranium fuel for the Trident first strike submarines.

Linda Cataldo Modica, an environmental activist from Jonesborough, Tenn., who organizes and educates with Erwin Citizens' Awareness Network about the uranium contamination in the area, said she “came to support sister and her colleagues in our effort to halt nuclear weapons production.”  Linda works with others in the region, including New South Network of War Resisters, on the Atomic Appalachia Project to support and network residents threatened by the nuclear military and industrial facilities in the Southern Appalachian area.

OREPA member Bill Myers showed we new arrivals where we could bed down for the night on the First Presbyterian church floor. OREPA member Rev. Erik Johnson of Maryville said he had approached the church pastor. “We have a need,” Johnson told him. “We kept engaging them,” and they agreed to help. As we spoke, folk musician Charlie King was singing,  Somos el barco, somos el mar.  “I sail in  you, you sail in me,” Rev. Johnson said, smiling. The cooperation of many in the Knoxville area and the “renewal of friendship with the First Presbyterian Church,” provided vital support throughout the trial, and Bro. Utsumi and Sr. Denise of the The Great Smokey Mountain Peace Pagoda, helped provide nourishing meals.
Sr. Denise & Bro. Utsumi lead the procession to the courtroom

Since 1988, Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance has been building relationships educating and organizing non-violent direct action protests at the Y-12 Complex in an effort to close down the nuclear weapons plant. The group has maintained thirteen years of uninterrupted Sunday vigils on a grassy field outside the gate. The previous Sunday the group stood in pouring rain confined to a swampy roadside across from the Y-12 gate, according to OREPA supporter Lee Session. Knoxville resident Larry Coleman who had been arrested April 6 as he stepped off the curb during a peace walk to the Y-12,  was arrested again by police who arrived with his photograph in hand.  “He thought that previous charges had been dismissed,” Session said.  “The police have never been this ugly to us before.”

“I think the fact that there have been people out at Y-12 every week for years is powerful, and drew the action here to the most significant nuclear weapons site in the nation.” Felice Cohen-Joppa, of Tucson, an editor of The Nuclear Resister, a publication chronicling decades of nonviolent nuclear protest.

With over 200 arrests at Oak Ridge over the years, many have served prison and jail time as a result of peaceful protest when activists either crossed over the boundary fence or blocked the entrance road to the bomb plant. The July, 2012 action was the first time that Sister Megan, a member of the Holy Child Jesus Order of teachers, had been to Oak Ridge, and the first Plowshares action inside the nuclear weapons complex. "My regret was I waited 70 years," Sr. Megan later testified.

“It is invigorating to see people from so far away,” Shelly Wascom said. “People who have never been here before now know what is happening.” Shelly was  tasked with coordinating hospitality and transportation for the scores of out of town supporters.  Lisa McLeod, a puppetista and longtime OREPA organizer, speaking in front of the courthouse added, “It’s another step toward the transformation that has to happen.  It’s been a huge gift and chance for people to have conversations in this community that  have not happened before.”

 “We wanted to bring the truth,” Sr. Megan Rice said.  "Let's stop pouring our billions into false, impossible security....Nuclear weapons are war crimes."

Jeff Theodore, assistant U.S. attorney, told jurors in closing arguments "When you interfere with Y-12, you are interfering with the national defense." 
OREPA's Shelly Wascom, SaraMargaret  & Ralph Hutchinson

Steve Erhart, manager of the National Nuclear Security complex at Y-12 testified that Y-12 historically has received and stored nuclear materials recovered from vulnerable sites around the globe. "It will be hard to explain how protesters penetrated the plant's detection-and-assessment system to countries looking to give up their nuclear materials because of their own security concerns," he testified.

 “They were the thermometer,” Defense Attorney Bill Quiqley said. “They didn’t cause the fever; they exposed it. Don’t blame the thermometer.”

Quigley said there was abundant evidence, including testimony by Erhart, that security at Y-12 is significantly better now than it was before the July 28, 2012 security breach.

"The shortcomings in security at one of the most dangerous places on the planet have embarrassed a lot of people," said Knoxville Attorney Francis Lloyd, Jr. who represented Sister Megan Rice.  "You're looking at three scapegoats behind me."

Photos & Story by Clare Hanrahan