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Court reports

Arraignment of Transform Now Plowshares

Knoxville Federal Courthouse, photo by Frank Kehren

Arraignment proceedings took place this morning in Knoxville Federal Court for plowshares activists Michael Walli, Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed. In a concerted effort all three declared that charges facing the Y-12 were not addressed.

“Blessed are the peacemakers!” said Erik Johnson of Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA), audibly, as they entered the courtroom. After more than 48 hours detention not one appeared shaken.

They currently face one charge of federal trespass which carries a potential sentence of not more than one year imprisonment and not more than one year of supervised release as well as a maximum fine of $100,000. Preliminary information had indicated that a second felony charge of vandalism would be brought. Additional charges are possible as the legal process unfolds.

When asked if he understood the charge Michael said, “I see the document only relates to my behavior” and, “This is not related to the Government’s illegal criminal activities at Y-12”.

Megan also found the absence of charges against Y-12 “incomprehensible”.

Greg underscored the concern: “We brought an indictment explaining our action’s legal justification and it is not mentioned”.

All objected to the prosecutor’s characterization of them as “members of the Plowshares organization” with “no respect for the law” who “have been bragging about their actions in the media”, as well as the assertion that they are a flight risk.

Greg clarified “There is no such thing as a Plowshare organization, only individuals who attempt to fulfill the Isaiah prophecy: beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks”. And countering the characterization that they had “no respect for the law” he added: “Juries have found [plowshare activists] not guilty and judges have ruled [so] on international law. There are precedents that juries do agree with these actions”.

Megan wore a long-sleeve thermal shirt, appearing to have found remedy from the cold Blount County Detention Center. She stated that she had no access to medication she should have, but was unimpaired functionally to participate in the proceedings. Reporters took note of her calm smile.

–Please Circulate Widely–

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