84-Year-Old Nun Jailed: Three Years for Nonviolent Anti-nuclear Protest

February 18th, 2014 - by admin

BBC News & Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com – 2014-02-18 23:53:22


Elderly Nun Sentenced over US Nuclear Site Break-in
BBC News

(February 18, 2014) — An elderly Catholic nun has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison for damage caused while breaking into a US nuclear defense site. Sister Megan Rice, 84, and two other protesters cut fences and entered the Oak Ridge, Tennessee, facility, which processes and stores uranium.

The other two, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, were sentenced to more than five years in prison. The July 2012 incident prompted security changes at the Y-12 site.

“Please have no leniency with me,” Sister Megan told the court at Tuesday’s hearing in Knoxville. “To remain in prison for the rest of my life would be the greatest gift you could give me.”

During the trial Sister Megan, from Washington DC, said her only regret was waiting so long to take action.

The peace activists, members of the group Transform Now Plowshares, had initially faced up to 20 years in prison after their conviction last May. Walli and Boertje-Obed received tougher sentences because they had longer criminal histories.

The trio were also found guilty of causing more than $1,000 (£643) of damage to government property. After cutting a fence to enter the site, the three walked around, spray-painted graffiti, strung out crime-scene tape and chipped a wall with hammers. They spent two hours inside.

The trio also sprayed the exterior of the complex with baby bottles containing human blood. When a guard approached, they offered him food and started singing.

US lawmakers and the Department of Energy later launched an inquiry and uncovered “troubling displays of ineptitude” at the facility. Top officials were reassigned, including at the National Nuclear Security Administration. WSI, the company providing security at the site, was dismissed and other officers were sacked, demoted or suspended.

84-Year-Old Nun Sentenced to 35 Months in Prison for Protest Break-In
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(February 18, 2014) — A US judge has sentenced 84-year-old nun and peace activist Megan Rice to 35 months in federal prison under the “Sabotage Act” for breaking into the Y-12 nuclear complex at Oak Ridge and spray-painting antiwar slogans on the exterior.

Rice, who has a long history of anti-nuclear activism, was initially charged with misdemeanor trespass, but the charges were ratcheted up to felony sabotage of a military facility by the Justice Department, who argued the nonviolent protest “endangered US national security.”

In reality, the Rice protest underscored ridiculously lax security at Y-12, where the US keeps its weapons-grade enriched uranium. That an 82-year-old snuck in totally undetected with spray paint and food (which she offered to the guard that finally caught her) was no small embarrassment to the administration, and likely the real source of the stiff sentence.

Rice had been arrested more than three dozen times before Y-12, usually on trivial charges related to other antiwar protests. She also twice served six months in prison for protesting against the School of the Americas in the late 1990s.

During her testimony in the trial, Rice said that “I regret I didn’t do this 70 years ago.” The Y-12 facility has supposedly undergone considerable security upgrades since, which will ideally keep future octogenarian nuns from infiltrating the site.

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