Y-12 and Plowshares: The oppression continues in spades!

Y-12 Update May 17, 2011 (from Joe Power-Drutis)

I feel it important to clarify why the Y-12 action has been
incorporated into Plowshares News.

If the Trident Submarines, harbored in the beautiful Puget Sound of
the Great Northwest, are the proverbial mother lode of weapon systems,
then it’s our Governments Department of Energy Y-12 thermonuclear bomb
making plant here in the beautiful East Tennessee Valley that
impregnates the Trident with its babies.

Y-12 had its beginnings in 1942 doing what it did to help develop the
first atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Almost
60 years later it is central to the U.S. ability to refurbish old
nuclear weapons and create new ones. An infusion of more than 6
Billion dollars into this complex is now in the process.

Here in East Tennessee a group has formed and is known as The Oak
Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA). They are a collection of
eternally hopeful souls who believe we have the power to create the
world we hope to live in. They are committed to nonviolence and
believe in using every tool in the toolbox to bring about a world free
of nuclear weapons. Their main focus is stopping nuclear weapons
production at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

To assist them in this noble cause a group of seasoned nuclear weapon
resisters from here in Tennessee and around the country came to Oak
Ridge this past summer to support OREPA; 13 of them trespassed 10 feet
onto Y-12 property and were arrested. And for this, all of the wrath
the Powers can import has been placed on them. Indeed it was expected;
the Y-12 complex is incredibly important to our governments nuclear
weapon posture and casting a light on what is actually going on here
receives a militant reaction.

Our friends from Disarm Now Plowshares and those who came to support
OREPA are a family of peace makers committed to resisting such death
driven monster systems. Indeed, Bix was a member to both actions. I
encourage you to go to http://orepa.org/ to learn more about OREPA.

The oppression continues in spades:
Buildings of steel and concrete, inside and out, and cold as a tomb.
That is the first impression anyone can feel as you walk through heavy
steel doors of the Blount County Correctional Facility. Immediately
inside the main door you find yourself in a nondescript waiting room
of 20 or so dark plastic chairs. No staff are in view though you know
they are there; behind even more steel doors and blackened windows
through two way voice systems. You are scheduled a one hour visit, but
those precious minutes are often infringed upon by jail structure.

You feel in your gut that whatever injustice you might be experiencing
is minor compared to what they on the inside are experiencing. Not one
of our friends is a freshman in the world of civil resistance and they
have paid dearly for speaking their truth. So when Sr. Ardeth Platte,
OP, from the Jonah House Community, who has spent so many years in
prison says this jail is one of the most difficult places she has
experienced, that’s saying something. We had a lovely visit this
afternoon, even if it was cut short on each side of our one hour
visit. That’s one hour period. She will see no one else until next

This jail is overcrowded, with 3 people to a cell that was built for 2
(one sleeps on the floor on a thin mat). There are 15 cells in each
pod, meaning there are 45 people in an area that was already woefully
small for 30 people. Everyone is locked into their cell 16 of the 24
hours each day, no exception.

There is nothing we can send into them. They can receive over priced
commissary items, but not in the first week. It will be 2 weeks before
they can even get a piece of paper or pen and an envelope and stamp.
No magazines books or cards from the outside, we can only send them
regular mailing envelopes. Phone calls are incredibly expensive; many
of them $20 – 30 for a 15 minute period (depending on where you live
and the deal the local sheriff brokers with the phone companies that
preys on the prison population).

When out of your cell, around meal times, breakfast is 2 biscuits,
coffee/milk, oatmeal. For Lunch – either a peanut butter and jelly
sandwich, or 2 pieces of bread with a slice of bologna (somewhat green
around the outside edge) – chips and water. Dinner – cold tea, wilted
lettuce or cabbage, 2 small scoops of instant mashed potatoes, some
noodles and boiled to death peas or beans. Fresh fruits or vegetables
are non existent.

Our friends in the Blount County Correctional Facility and Bix in the
Knox County Sheriff Detention Facility are there for what? For
reminding us we are ever so close to self destructing. Prophets of old
went into the desert (or were sent there), perhaps our present day
deserts (barren regions) are in buildings made of steel and concrete.
There are presently 12 Y-12 and Disarm Now Plowshare Resistors doing
the only thing they can do; speak with their lives and endure the
yokes we place upon them for shouting their truth from the mountain

I encourage you to pick just one of these lovely people in the Blount
County Correctional Facility and write to them. Tell them of your life
or that of your family or community. Speak of the news in your own
words, since they neither get or can receive from you such information
in hard copy. Perhaps start reading a book, and at the end of each
chapter write to them what you just read or learned. We can break
through that wall of intuitional injustice that burdens their minds.
Be creative but remember each piece of mail is inspected closely and
anything other than a letter is removed.

Though way over priced, the only relief these good souls can get is by
way of an occasional phone call and supplies from the commissary. So,
if you can afford to apply some financial support please send it to:

Sue Ablao and note it is for the Y-12 Resistors. Sue’s address is:
Ground Zero Center For Nonviolent Action, 16159 Clear Creek Road NW,
Poulsbo, WA 98370.

These are the names and mailing address of 7 who went to prison on May
11, 2011. You can write to them at the following:

Sister Carol Gilbert
Sister Ardeth Platte
Sister Jackie Hudson
Bonnie Urfer
Michael Walli
Jean Gump
Steve Bggarly

(Inmates Name)
Blount County Correctional Facility
920 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway
Maryville, TN 37804-5022
***must have a return address or inmate will not receive sent mail***

Bix’s journey: the ordeal in Atlanta

Update May 11, 2011, from Joe Power-Drutis

(Editor’s Note: The Y-12 trial is in its third day; click here for updates.)

Many apologies for the delay in receiving information; I have been
experiencing some problems getting the word out. Should go more
smoothly from here on out.

I arrived in Knoxville on Saturday May 7th, that evening I visited Bix
at the Knox County Detention Facility. Each inmate is limited to 2 –
30 minute visits each week; not very much time for family and friend
support. Once you pass through security, your allotted 30 minute time
slot begins; then comes a long walk down 3 very long hallways,
precious minutes of your visitation time used up in the walk. I
observed some visitors using canes and walkers, obviously requiring
them to use up even more of their visitation time. Other visitors
walked quickly, some ran.

You finally arrive in a cubby hole of a space with a steel bench and a
3 x 4 foot, one inch thick glass barrier surrounded by concrete block;
a phone hangs on your wall to the left with a cord that extends barely
long enough for you to both talk and look through the glass – that
will be the extent of intimacy allotted for you to visit.

This next part I want to share with you contains some of the reason
why I have been delayed in writing to you – I just needed time to

I am not sure what I expected to encounter but, what I did see was a
broken and very hurting soul. Pale, frail, mildly shaky, complaining
of being unable to hear because of fluid in his ears, dizziness and
lightheadedness, pointing with his fingers that he is struggling to
push the right numbers on the phone – eyes glassed over, flat affect,
and complaining that his gait is so poor, yet he has been commanded to
“keep moving”, requesting a wheelchair and being refused. (Well that
was the easy part to listen to) – Then he began to talk about the week
he spent in Atlanta.

Looking back we all spoke of our grave concern of his traveling via
federal prisoner transport, but I sincerely believe none of us
realized he was going to go through at the Atlanta Federal

He went onto tell me, with tears in his eyes, that he was placed in a
cell and locked in there, with woefully inadequate bedding and
clothing, for a week. He repeatedly asked guards for clothing and an
extra blanket, and was laughed at and ignored. At some point after
repeated requests, another inmate gave up his loan blanket to Bix.

Bix’s medical problems create a lack of blood and oxygen to his hands
and feet; leaving those extremities white and ice cold when his
overall body temperature falls. Following this, much like one drowning
in a frozen body of water, your hands, and feet are filled with pain,
like being jabbed repeatedly with needles. He then spoke of the never
ending pain, leading to sleep deprivation, insomnia and ultimately
disassociation and hallucinations.

Bix was certainly aware of what he was doing as he walked onto the
base at Bangor and across the blue line at Y-12; and for these acts he
is ready to remain in prison and pay the ultimate price. But, this in
no way permits this system of criminal injustice to do what it has
done to him. These unjust and unlawful acts perpetrated on him in his
trip from Seattle are tantamount to torture.

I have consulted with his attorneys both here and in Tacoma; legal
avenues are being looked at to ensure Bix is not returned to SeaTac in
the same form of prison transport that was used to bring him to

On a happier note: Kathy Boylan and I went to see him on Sunday
evening and we could see even then that his overall frame of mind had

On Monday, May 9th, the trial began for Bix and 11other defendants
charged with trespassing at the Department of Energy Y-12 facility in
Oakridge TN on July 5, 2010. Today is the 3rd day of the trial and
there have been some very interesting moments and words spoken that I
will share with you soon.

Editor’s Note: You can read all about the “interesting moments” at the Y-12 trial at The Nuclear Abolitionist Blog “Y-12 Witness page.

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