Transform Now Plowshares Appeal Heard in Cincinnati
POSTED BY TNPLOWSHARES ⋅ MARCH 12, 2015 ⋅ LEAVE A COMMENT
March 12, 1930, Ahmedabad, India. Mahatma Gandhi and a company of nonviolent satyagrahi set out from the Sabarmati ashram and began his march to Dandi where, twenty-four days later, he would make hold in his hands salt made from the ocean water and declare, “Here I ruin the British empire.”
It was an audacious faith in the power of nonviolence that carried Gandhi on that walk, and that powered him for another seventeen years before the miracle was realized and India was freed from British colonial rule.
Eighty-four years later, to the day, the power of nonviolence entered into the Potter Stewart federal courthouse in Cincinnati, Ohio, where three men sat in black robes to hear arguments challenging the sabotage convictions of Gregory Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice and Michael Walli in the Transform Now Plowshares action. Appellate arguments usually echo in a courtroom empty but for judges, a clerk and the lawyers. But on March 12, 2015, the pews began to fill at 8:30. By 9:00 there were more than forty people in the courtroom—three dozen Plowshares supporters and another dozen high school students on a field trip who were about to be educated about the legal process, and maybe be prompted to think about nuclear weapons and the power of nonviolent direct action in the process.
story of the action
Michael R. Walli (63), Megan Rice shcj (82), Greg Boertje-Obed, (57), succeeded in a disarmament action at the Oak Ridge Y-12 Nuclear facility before dawn on July 28, 2012.
Calling themselves Transform Now Plowshares, they hammered on the cornerstone of the newly built Highly-Enriched Uranium Manufacturing Facility (HEUMF), splashed human blood and left four spray painted tags on the recent construction which read: Woe to the empire of blood; The fruit of justice is peace; Work for peace not for war; and Plowshares please Isaiah.
Under the cover of darkness they intermittently passed beyond four fences in a walk for over two hours through the fatal force zone. “We feel it was a miracle; we were led directly to where we wanted to go,” said Greg.
After navigating through the complex they came to a long, white, windowless building marked HEUMF. “It was built like a fortress,” Greg said describing the four guard towers.
Unimpeded by security, they attached two banners to pillars of the building. “Transform Now Plowshares,” read the first with a green and black icon showing part bomb part flower. A second stated, “Swords into Plowshares Spears into Pruning Hooks–Isaiah”. In addition, between the pillars they strung red crime tape.
When confronted by a guard they read aloud their statement. “He was on his walkie-talkie but he heard it,” Megan confirmed. Before receiving orders to halt they had opportunity to offer guards bread, and display a bible, candles and white roses. Though initially forced to endure a kneeling posture for an extended period, guards responded to complaint and allowed the activists to stand off and on. Meanwhile they continued singing.
At this time they have been interviewed by the DOE investigative unit and have conditional charges of two felony counts for vandalism and trespass. They spoke to supporters from Blount County Jail at 12:30 pm saying they had not been processed yet. All four are scheduled for arraignment in Blount County Court on Monday.
“We’re still opposing the filthy rotten system,” Michael said. “Jesus has no nukes in heaven and no torture in heaven.”
Lawyers for the Megan Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli will have 15 minutes to present oral arguments before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 9:00am. Counsel is expected to ask the court to vacate the convictions of Megan, Michael and Greg on the charge of sabotage, arguing the statute was wrongly applied in this case.
Those who attended the trial and sentencing in Knoxville may recall the judge himself expressed concerns about the charge, but in the end he let it stand.
The court has scheduled 30 minutes for oral arguments, which is standard procedure. The judges are not expected to issue a decision for some months.
It is not clear whether a decision in favor of the TNP three would result in a new sentencing hearing and/or reductions of sentences for the three. In any case, the process might…
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