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Judge Sends Transform Now Plowshares Resisters to Prison


Judge Amul R. Thapar passed sentence on Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice

and Michael Walli on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 in federal court in

Knoxville, Tennessee. The three were convicted in May 2013 for their

nonviolent action called Transform Now Plowshares at the Y12 Nuclear

Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on charges of depredation of

property and sabotage—the convictions carried possible maximum

sentences of 30 years in prison. Sentencing guidelines, based on

factors including history,  recommended sentences ranging from 6-10



Sentencing began at 1:30pm; the three were permitted to be in the

courtroom together by Judge Thapar.


Michael Walli received a sentence of 62 months on each count, to be

served concurrently, followed by 3 years of supervised release.


Greg Boertje-Obed received a sentence of 62 months on each count, to

be served concurrently, followed by 3 years of supervised release.


Megan Rice received a sentence of 35 months on each count, to be

served concurrently, followed by 3 years of supervised probation.


“Judge Thapar has tried to strike a compromise that reflects the

nature of this nonviolent action but satisfies the government’s

demand that Megan, Michael and Greg’s sentence send a deterrent

message to the wider community. For now, their bodies remain in

prison. But their voices are free, reminding us that the central

issue of this action and trial have not been resolved—as long as the

government continues to produce thermonuclear weapons of mass

destruction in Oak Ridge or anywhere, people are required to resist,”

said Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental

Peace Alliance.


At the hearing, each of the Plowshares resisters spoke, reminding the

court of the central purpose of their action—to call the court’s

attention to the ongoing violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation

Treaty at the Y12 plant in Oak Ridge. In testimony at hearings

leading up to the trial, former Attorney General of the United States

Ramsey Clark called the production of nuclear weapons components at

Y12 “unlawful,” and the work there “a criminal enterprise.”


Megan, Michael and Greg entered Y12 in the wee hours of the morning

on July 28, 2012, cutting four fences and traversing a lethal-force-

authorized zone, arriving at the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials

Facility, the nation’s warehouse of weapons grade highly enriched

uranium. They poured blood on the walls of the HEUMF and spray

painted “Plowshares Please Isaiah,” and “The Fruit of Justice is

Peace.” They also chipped a corner of the concrete wall with a small

hammer, a symbolic act reflecting the Old Testament prophecy of

Isaiah who said, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares.”


The statement issued at the time declared the United States in

violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and said Y12 was

chosen for the action because of plans for a multi-billion dollar

bomb plant to be built there—the Uranium Processing Facility. The

sole purpose of the UPF (pricetag now $19 billion) is to produce

thermonuclear cores for warheads and bombs. Y12 is an active weapons

production facility—workers today are performing Life Extension

Upgrades on the W76 warhead at Y12.


Supporters outside the courtroom said, “The United States is breaking

its own law when it builds bombs in Oak Ridge. Any goverment that

would lock up Megan, Michael and Greg is desperate to hide the truth.

By their actions, they have broken the silence; their sacrifice

challenges each of us to speak up for a safer world. In prison or

out, Michael, Greg and Megan will continue to pray and work to save

the life of the planet.”




21 thoughts on “Judge Sends Transform Now Plowshares Resisters to Prison

  1. fr dave eberhardt in baltimore- would have been there but for hip operation- sure Max represented- our hearts and prayers go out to the three and all of you in tenn. fighting the good fight- i personally ws relieved to hear- alto i know the sentences are awful-
    now- how does tenn elect a marsha blackburn? a bob corker? i mean- yes we have work to do here in md too- i am not going to preech at u (much as i love to)
    how’s tenn on stand yr ground?
    i get tired of being like the ancient Xtians- standing alone w a few comrades in windy coliseums as the lions (and maybe a few bobcats) advance (and you know the right wing romans starved those suckers)
    let’s change it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    yet and still, we stand with Saint Perpetua at Corinth (or was it Rhodes) And remember what she said!

    Posted by david eberhardt | February 19, 2014, 8:53 am
    • It’s This Way
      I stand in the advancing light,
      my hands hungry, the world beautiful.

      My eyes can’t get enough of the trees–
      they’re so hopeful, so green.

      A sunny road runs through the mulberries,
      I’m at the window of the prison infirmary.

      I can’t smell the medicines–
      carnations must be blooming nearby.

      It’s this way:
      being captured is beside the point,
      the point is not to surrender.

      Nazim Hikmet

      Posted by david eberhardt | February 19, 2014, 8:57 am
  2. Tennessee is not a very progressive state which is why we need people like Sister Megan Rice and her associates to spread the message of non-violence and tolerance. It’s not just Marsha Blackburn and Bob Corker–we also have backwards and very nasty people like Stacey Campfield and Scott Desjarlais. I’m not sure how they’re getting elected because no one I know is voting for them. I am ready to abandon my embarrassment of a home state and move somewhere less closed-minded. Does anyone know which federal prison(s) Sister Megan Rice and Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed will be kept? I want to write them letters of support and thanks.

    Posted by MB | February 19, 2014, 10:41 am
  3. Thank you for adding to the story with more of the WHY… I have reblogged it….Prayers for those saints.. Judy

    Posted by judyabl | February 19, 2014, 11:51 am
  4. Well done the 4 of you. Thinking of you in prayer. From Sr Christine M Austin SHCJ England

    Posted by Christine Austin | February 19, 2014, 12:21 pm
  5. Something is terribly wrong with our system when three elderly peace activists enter a nuclear weapons site in Tennessee, spray paint anti-war slogans and pour blood on the walls as an act of civil disobedience and are found guilty of felonies and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

    Meanwhile on the same day as the activists sentencing, George Zimmerman (who killed an unarmed child and displays no remorse) is given media coverage and walks free.

    I am so sad that harmless religiously inspired, courageous activists-with strong moral convictions that killing is wrong, sit in prison. We should be outraged by our criminal iinjustice system!

    Where can we write Greg, Micahel, and Sister Megan?

    Posted by Leslie Ebert, Baltimore, MD | February 19, 2014, 3:50 pm
    • The address for Megan, Michael and Greg are subject to change as they transition from jail to jail en route to federal prison. We will keep the current address on the website (under the green button on the right “Write the prisoners”). Please be aware they can be transported at any time, so if mail is returned to you, just check for the new address and re-send. When they leave Tennessee to return to Ocilla, the draconian “postcards only” rule will no longer apply.

      Posted by tnplowshares | February 21, 2014, 10:47 am
  6. Reblogged this on Deconstructing Myths and commented:
    I know I’ll sleep better tonight knowing these three pacifist senior citizens are off the streets.

    Posted by Jeff Nguyen | February 19, 2014, 7:34 pm
    • this sounds good- please befren me- dave in baltimore

      Posted by david eberhardt | February 19, 2014, 8:01 pm
    • I guarantee you the prisoners and guards in their world now are being transformed by their witness and service. I understand Sister Megan’s demand that she be incarcerated for life rather than be given special treatment. Her statement at the sentencing eloquently described the hardships of her fellow prisoners. I can only imagine how much good she’s doing now.

      Posted by Ellen Thomas | February 19, 2014, 8:05 pm
      • great comment- just as there is life in the “slums”, there is life WITHIN prison- having been in w Phil Berrigan and worked there for 33 yrs- I have a great letter from Jack Gilbert who is doing LIFE (for Brinks robbery involvement)- great prisoners also- Wilde, Chenier, Bach, (yes, papa Bach), Hikmet, Scholl, Silone, Martha Stewart? (people tells me she was alright at Alderson)- + all draft action and plowshares, of course

        Posted by david eberhardt | February 20, 2014, 7:17 am
  7. 2/19- small article in ny times, larger one in wash post- i was surprised that Rachel Maddow did a bit on the Transform Now Plowshares- has it been on Democracy Now? I am a writer and a news junkie.

    Posted by david eberhardt | February 19, 2014, 8:04 pm
  8. Reading an article on this yesterday, I saw that when confronted by a security officer, the three offered him something to eat. We can assume he declined. After that, the trio began to sing. Very dangerous and subversive behavior, I say…

    Posted by Christopher T | February 20, 2014, 9:48 am
  9. Is it possible (and helpful) to make a donation toward the fine that was levied on Obed, Walli and Rice? If so, where do I send a check?

    Posted by Marian Ronan | February 20, 2014, 11:30 am
    • Thank you for your support for the TNP three. Because the court ruled they have no means to pay, no fines were levied against them. They were ordered to pay nearly $53,000 in restitution to the government to cover the cost of removing their peace messages and repairing the fences. All indications are they will refuse to willingly pay any restitution to the US government, and they are not encouraging others to pay on their behalf.

      If you would like to support the TNP three financially, there will be ongoing expenses during their incarceration. We are asking people to contribute through the support team. The address is on the web page under the “support” header near the top of the page.

      Checks can be sent to:
      Catholic Worker
      PO Box 29179
      Washington DC 20017

      designated for “Transform Now Plowshares”

      Posted by tnplowshares | February 21, 2014, 10:45 am
  10. Reblogged this on Move for Change and the Brooklyn Culture Jam and commented:
    Yesterday, Judge Amul R Thapar ruled on prison time for Greg Boertje-Obed, Sister Megan Rice and Michael Walli. Details on link. There was some downward departure from sentencing guidelines, but not much.

    Posted by moveforchangebkculturejam | February 20, 2014, 12:18 pm
  11. Reblogged this on Uncivil Liberties and commented:
    I honestly did not know we were still making nuclear warheads…I mean, I doubt they are an export product. Megan Rice is 84 years old now…three years may be a life sentence for her. If anyone cares to write her, or the others, this is the link to the Federal BOP Inmate Locator page: http://www.bop.gov/Locate/

    Posted by Christopher T | February 20, 2014, 2:47 pm


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  2. Pingback: Sr. Megan Gets 35 months…what Justice is this? More of the Story | judyablfollowingSheWhoIs - February 19, 2014

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Support Transform Now Plowshares

Contributions for jail support for the Transform Now Plowshares activists are welcome and needed! You can mail checks to:

Catholic Worker
PO Box 29179
Washington DC 20017

please mark your check for "Transform Now Plowshares" in the memo line.

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