On the early summer morning of July 28, 2012, Megan Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli, the Oak Ridge Three, hiked down a wooded ridge to the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. At the complex the hikers cut their way through three fences using bolt cutters, stealthily moved past guard dogs and then made their way past a sign noting that trespassers could be met with deadly force.
Inside the compound they made their way to a facility charged with processing much of the nation’s weapons grade uranium (enough to manufacture 10,000 nuclear bombs) and then splashed human blood on the building. The three spent over two hours within the compound, painting biblical slogans of peace around the facility. No one had any clue; it would be hours until the Oak Ridge Three were in custody.
Rice, an 84-year-old nun, and fellow peace activists Boertje-Obed and Walli have all been sentenced to prison for their actions. This case has garnered a lot of attention. The United States congress has held special hearings over the protest because it raised a number of questions about how the United States government manages nuclear weapons and high-grade materials. Furthermore, the activists illuminated how poorly private security corporations protect high-grade sites such as nuclear power plants.
The protest has also given rise to a strong showing of solidarity among fellow peace activists, the no nukes movement and other sympathetic supporters. The three have received thousands of letters of support from around the world – including the Union of Concerned Scientists.
On February 18th, Rice was sentenced to 35 months behind bars. Her comrades, Greg Boertje-Obed and Walli both received a sentence of 62 months.
Knoxville, Tennessee criminal defense attorney Chris Irwin represented the activist Michael Walli in the courtroom. Chris is a well-known criminal defense lawyer in the city – he is also a well-known, respected vocal political activist, community organizer and anarchist. When not in the courtroom, Chris can usually be found in the Appalachian coalfields – advocating the region move beyond coal. He has been taking the Tennessee Valley Authority and coal companies to task throughout the region for decades.
Read more via Center for a Stateless Society » The Oak Ridge Three.