A nuclear facility was defaced by three activists including an elderly Catholic nun, a house painter and a Vietnam War veteran and were each sentenced to prison time for the incident. The protest included splashing blood and painting biblical phrases on walls of a nuclear bomb facility in Tennessee that houses weapons grade uranium for the nukes, enough for about 10,000 of them according to the Washington Post. The activists wanted to clearly state their opposition to what they view as the immoral use of weapons that are against international law to use, as the Post reported. The activists included 65-year-old war veteran Michael Walli, 84-year-old Catholic nun Megan Rice and 58-year-old house painter Gregory Boertje-Obed.
The activists have already served just under nine months in jail awaiting trial for their acts of protest at the nuclear site. They were charged and subsequently convicted of breaking into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in July 2012 by way of cutting through a fence, which reportedly embarrassed the United States government. Security measures were ramped up after the nuclear protest episode, according to Reuters news service.
The judge was more lenient with the nun, according to the report from Reuters, which stated that U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar explained that her crimes were “minimal” when compared with the other two male activist counterparts. The three activist musketeers, who will all likely appeal the sentence, call themselves Transform Now Plowshares. The nuclear facility that was defaced by the nun, the war vet and the painter activists had several reported damages. It was also reported that when confronted by a guard, they simply tried to offer food and began singing. Thapar said the activists could have achieved a solution lawfully to inspire changes in nuclear policies. It was also reported that he hoped the sentences would deter others who have lost faith in the system from similar actions.
The two men were sentenced around five years. The nun got around three years for her involvement in the nuclear site incident that annoyed the establishment. The incident allegedly took place at the tail end of July 2012.
The two courtrooms were filled because the activists were supported by about 100 people, according to the Post. The judge reportedly struggled to find an appropriate sentence within sentencing guidelines given the history of the activists and the nature of their crimes. The nun reportedly did not want the judge’s leniency and said she would be honored to spend the rest of her days in prison for what she had done in protest of nuclear weapons.
All of the activists cited political reasons for their actions, one quoting Martin Luther King Jr. at one point in court. One of the men also said that abiding by the international non-proliferation treaty would promote more respect for the law.
The nun, war vet and painter (activists) who participated in this stunt that left a nuclear facility defaced effectively shut the site down for a couple weeks, prompted several congressional hearings and exposed security flaws that reportedly cost $150 million per year to update.
By Robert Lawson