Ardeth Platte’s Y-12 Sentencing Statement


Sister Jackie Hudson, Order of Preachers, was the next peacemaker scheduled for sentencing, next Monday morning at 9:30. Her life was given on August 3rd, 2011, her testimony complete, and it resounds loudly and clearly, remaining with us and we are grateful. Jackie, presente!

Magistrate Guyton, we have been taught, have learned and believe that:
In these courts, justice should be rendered.

In these courts, prosecution for broken laws and policies regarding cancer-causing radioactivity that poisons soil, water, animal and human life should be enforced.

In these courts, killing and threats to kill should be on trial.

In these courts “Deterrence” – intentional threats to kill massively (i.e. triggers cocked at targeted nations) should be listed on trial dockets as criminal.

In these state and federal courts Y 12 (along with Los Alamos and Kansas City Nuclear Complexes) producing and processing uranium, plutonium, materials and parts for nuclear weapons should be prosecuted as crimes.

Prosecutors, you have chosen instead to prosecute the Y 12 thirteen. Your “in limine” motion to silence us at trial about applicable Constitutional, Humanitarian, Customary, International laws and treaties substantiating our action and motivation stripped us of our defense.

The probation officers chose to list for you some of my nonviolent, symbolic, direct actions of civil resistance that were designated points because of arbitrary arrests and incarcerations. However, they too have eliminated the moral and legal ways and means of my teaching and preaching truth about war and weapons, nor have they recorded the reasons why I refuse to be silent.

So before sentencing I want to tell you more of my story. Note that it is violence, injustice and killing that move me to actions. I believe that nuclear weapons are the taproot of all violence and must be abolished. Poverty and deprivation kill too. Domestic and foreign violence, injury to air, soil and water kills, massive killing in war with conventional bombs and threats of actual use of nuclear weapons – all are immoral, illegal and criminal.

So I refuse to be silent.

My stance is the same as my religious community of Dominican Sisters, my intentional community of Jonah House and my Roman Catholic Church. It is the same position taken by international law professors and lawyers (like Charles Moxley who testified before you), the World Court, Global Zero, Nobel Peace Laureates, many Admirals and Generals, political leaders, scientists, organizations and millions of people throughout the world.

We each in our own way refuse to be silent!

At four years of age, I/We in kindergarten were ordered to duck and cover. Our families were ordered to extinguish all lights for blackouts in the entire city. In those early years we were all incorporated under the cloak of fear to participate in war.

At nine years of age my country obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as you know, killing hundreds of thousands of people – innocent women, men and children with “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”. (Years later I have had the privilege of being with and speaking at forums with the Hibakusha who plead for a nuclear-free world also.) The pictures of their land and burnt dead make me weep.

At thirteen years of age my brother was accidently shot while deer hunting. What I recall was the sight of the open leg wound and its difficult healing process. It stirred in me images and awareness of the maiming and killing in warfare.
In the early 50’s I entered college and then the Dominican Sisters Community, preparing for a vowed life and teaching ministry. Scripture, theology, social documents of the Church, secular studies, the life and charism of Dominic, our founder – an itinerant preacher of truth, along with many Dominican saints formed me and deepened my conscience.

Affected by and study of a nonviolent/loving God, a nonviolent Jesus, giving his life rather than taking another’s life, all people made to the image of God, one family of sisters and brothers in the world, to become a Beatitude people, love God and neighbor as self, do good to those who persecute you, forgive seventy times seven, hammer swords into plowshares –all of these words/concepts took root in me. I would never be the same because sacred life and creation became most meaningful.

I found my voice, must speak out, must speak truth!

In the 60’s and 70’s, during the years of my educational ministries, the “isms” became evident, focused and clearer to me. Racism was prevalent so it was right and good to be part of the nonviolent civil rights movement. Farmworkers were oppressed, so many of us joined boycotts and marches with Cesar Chavez and workers. Sexism and classism reflected the subjugation of women and the poorest and my heart and eyes were opened to the need for education, empowerment and organized efforts. For in each of these movements for justice, I saw democracy in action and had to join it; it was the way to bring about systemic change through legal, political and direct action.

I refused to be silent then and now!

Assigned to an Upward Bound program at our college as an administrative assistant and to an inner city high school as principal brought me face to face with killing. It was the time of turmoil, riots and sniping in the streets of the cities. At the same time war was escalating and raging in Vietnam. Militarism had a devastating effect on domestic budgetary needs: education, food, shelter, health care. African Americans, Hispanics, and people made poor challenged me to walk by faith’s talk about preferential option with the poorest. Some of our grads were coming back in body bags and some of our students and family members were killed on the city’s war-zoned streets.

We opened an Educational Center to drop outs, expellees and adults to offer some hope and self-determination sessions during a dark time. I participated in moratorium marches within the city and also in Washington DC. My own conversion kept deepening.

My voice was not silent!

War is not peace. Basic human necessities are intended as a right for all of God’s people. Hundreds of thousands of us were part of the demonstrations…and the Vietnam War ended. But nuclear weapons continued to be built. Each President, except Ford, threatened to use them, from Truman to the present as weapons of mass destruction have become more and more powerful.

We continued organizing – teaching conscientious objection, joining thousands at the UN Disarmament Conference in New York City in 1978 and a million of us in 1982. Nearly 1800 were arrested at the five nuclear weapon nation’s Embassies. In 1979 I was invited to the White House with other religious leaders to examine the SALT treaty. As a City Councilwoman I attended “Women for the Prevention of Nuclear War” with Rosalyn Carter, Ellen Goodman, Coretta Scott King, Joanne Woodward and numerous women leaders from every walk of life. As Mayor Pro Tem of the city I voted at our California Conference with Mayors for Peace for a Nuclear Freeze. Upon return from these urgent events our Michigan Coalition developed, gained signatures, and placed on the November 1982 ballot an Initiative banning nuclear weapons from our state. It passed by a 56% vote of the people.

However, the federal government and Dept of Defense defied the will of the people of Michigan by deploying and storing hundreds of nuclear cruise missiles for B52’s at two Strategic Air Command (SAC) Bases in 1983 and 1984. For the next twelve years, we prayed, studied, organized, marched, demonstrated, lobbied and did legal, political, and direct actions until every nuclear weapon was removed (1995) from our state, which is a wonderland with fresh water lakes surrounding it. At the same time we did all we could do to gain funds and commitment to cleanup the serious contamination which we believe caused cancer rates to escalate in the area.

I and others refused to be silent!

{As an interesting sideline, all of my arrests at these bases were for trespass. In the city I served for years, the police were facing a hostage situation – a veteran had collected a stash of guns and was holding his wife hostage. The police requested me to come to defuse the situation, so the man could be seized and given the mental health care that he needed. There was no question about my trespassing to stop a possible killing. I did so and it was successful. It is exactly what we attempt to do each time we enter a nuclear site – to save lives and stop the hostage-taking of other nations.}

During the 1980’s and 1990’s under the tutelage of lawyers, we learned the laws of the United States applicable to nuclear weapons, war and our own nonviolent actions. These experts: Francis Boyle, Kary Love, Bill Durand, Richard Faulk, Bill Quigley, Peter Weiss, Bob Aldridge, Ved Nanda, Lawyers for Prevention of Nuclear War, Anabel Dwyer, etc. by their writings and testifying through the years substantiate the illegality and crimes of governments and corporations and our duty and responsibility to stop them.

A Coalition of Michigan peacemakers and lawyers led by Anabel Dwyer developed the Nuremberg Campaign. Atty. Dwyer attended the sessions at the Hague regarding the International Court of Justice report and opinion of nuclear weapons being illegal in threatening to use or ever using them. The Campaign included depositions, laws, procedures to be taken to stop the SAC Base from illegal action. The briefs were submitted to the Attorney General, two federal District Attorneys and two county prosecutors. Day by day we offered leaflets at the SAC Base to teach Air Force personnel that they must disobey any command (according to their Field Manuals) to threaten use or to launch nuclear weapons.

I refuse to be silent!

Lawyers who are experts in Law continue to teach us the pertinence of the Constitution, Geneva, Hague, UN Charter, Nuremberg Principles, Poison Earth Treaty, World Court Decision, the Non Proliferation Treaty – “with its obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects, under strict and effective international control.”

Nuclear weapons inflict indiscriminate and uncontrollable mass destruction, violate fundamental rules and principles of humanitarian law and threaten the existence of life itself.

I/We were informed that the replacement upgrades in targeting capability of Trident D-5 missiles, W76 and W88 series are breaches of Article VI of the NPT and signed agreements, therefore, the ongoing production at Y12 Oak Ridge must be halted and total disarmament take place.

I refuse to be silent and joined in issuing the proclamation on July 5, 2010.

So I ask you now:
Is it or is it not the duty to stop crimes?
Is it legal to defy treaties?
Is it legal to kill civilians?
Is it legal to bomb counties at which no war has been declared? to torture?
Is it legal to threaten with nuclear weapons?
Is it legal to occupy countries and establish 1000 military bases on ¾ of the world’s countries?
Is it legal for the U.S. to divide the world into Command Centers, controlling independent Continents?
Is it legal to allow or cause people to starve and be malnourished here and abroad?
Is it legal to sign treaties to total nuclear disarmament and not fulfill them? If it is legal, it is certainly not moral. My commitment has been and is to put my mind, body, spirit and voice on lines to stop war, weapons, and killing. I oppose all killing – by the pen, by guns, by conventional and nuclear weapons. I refuse to be silent about personal, societal, state and national murder. I refuse to be silent regarding the lies told, the resources stolen, the crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The universe, Earth, creation and creatures are sacred, too magnificent to be destroyed.

You may wonder why I’m taking time to add the above material to the record and my rap sheet. No doubt you have probably decided my sentence before I spoke. I wanted you to know my convictions and passion and what has led me to do what I do…not only civil resistance and the promise to give my life for justice and peace. I want to invite you to be agents of change.

My question is – where are the courts and judges. Will any of you be agents for change as were the courts in abolishing slavery, child labor, gaining civil rights, women’s voting, unionization, and other laws galore that had to be upheld and interpreted. It is an urgent time, a kairos moment, a key time in history – wherein abolition of nuclear weapons is law. Let all of us go home to feed the poor and serve God’s people! Never again bring to court nonviolent civil resisters at Y12. Cases dismissed. Join the movement to stop weapons, war and killing! Prosecutors – bring forth the cases of contamination and radiation. Stop nuclear weapons and prosecute those breaking the law. As Jackie would say, “Let’s all take another step outside our comfort zone.” I trust and hope you will be the persons that will someday do it.

Sentencing Statement by
Sister Ardeth Platte, O.P.
September 16, 2011 for Y12 Action

Carol Gilbert’s Y-12 Sentencing Statement

Judge Guyton, before I begin my prepared statement I want to apologize for how I look and hope my mind is operating because the last 31 hours have been hectic.  We were awakened at 2 am and left Ocilla at 4:30 am with the officer driving 80 -90 miles an hour plus about half of the trip texting.  I don’t know what the law is in TN or GA but in MD and in MI that is illegal. You might not think I am a very law and order person but my friends would tell you I am. We arrived about 11:30 am and were given a very nice lunch by the marshals. We then sat in the holding cell for most of the afternoon and then taken for processing.  We arrived in our cells at 10:30 pm and were taken out again at 5 am for court.  The jail also ran out of combs to give us. So, I apologize to you.

One of the charisms of my Dominican religious order is “to give to others the fruits of your contemplation.”

These past 131 days I have contemplated what if anything I would say to this court.

Four clarifications need to be made:

1.)     We do not choose jail. Anyone who has ever been in jail, prison, or even a lock-up would never choose it.  We do choose non-violent direct action. We do choose civil resistance enough to risk arrest and incarceration.  We do choose to try and uphold Article 6 of the United States Constitution (the supremacy clause) which was not allowed in this courtroom. We do choose life over death.  But, we do not choose jail.

2.)     I chose not to testify at trial because of your order which would silence my truth.  Your order spoke of lack of “imminence”. I believe that every human being and all species are my brothers and sisters.  These last 131 days have only strengthened for me how imminent our action was.

The United States cannot at one, refurbish and upgrade nuclear warheads at Y-12 Oak Ridge for deployment, threat or use and abide in good-faith by promises to adhere to humanitarian law, the laws of war limiting the use of force and our obligation in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Criminal Code and I understand the U.S. Military Code.

We met women both in Blount County Detention Center, Maryville, TN and Irwin County Detention Center, Ocilla, GA
who had friends, relatives, spouses or themselves that worked or lived near Y-12.  We heard stories of cancers, deaths, class action suits, loss of jobs due to contamination, money awards, environmental contamination and radiated deer. We heard from peacemakers where on 279 out of 365 days last year, the water leaving the Y-12 facility was contaminated beyond safe drinking water levels.  This speaks to me of imminence!

3.)     This court has no understanding of the difference between civil disobedience and civil resistance.  Civil disobedience means breaking a specific law.  One example from our history is the African-American population who broke the racist Jim Crow municipal ordinances by sitting at lunch counters legally prohibited from serving them.  Civil resistance is upholding the laws.  The necessity defense and Nuremburg principals say that citizens have a responsibility and a duty to resist illegal government crimes.

In many countries around the world and sometimes in this country people are acquitted for these non-violent actions.  Our Y-12 action on July 5, 2010 was an act of civil resistance.

4.)     I want to explain why Sister Ardeth Platte and I chose not to comply with supervised release after trial.  We had been on ten months of strict supervised release which we followed to the letter of the law.

When we appeared here in July of 2010 you gave us permission to go to our motherhouse in MI for meetings.  Usually, we have been on unsupervised release where we just signed a paper promising to return to court and not break any laws. So, when we got to Baltimore the papers did not read we could travel outside of MD.  We did finally get approval after many phone calls. Then in October we had a college student group and we wanted to take them to a trial in VA for a Pentagon peace action. When I called the probation department the officer said he would need to call TN.  He called back a few hours later and said if it was up to him he would give permission but after talking to TN he could not say yes. We could not participate in any demonstrations, vigils, rallies, prayer services, even our local death penalty vigil all of which were legal and First Amendment rights. Another hardship was parking when we had to visit the probation office as the costs were at least $8 and sometimes as high as $18 which were prohibitive for us. We could not work with the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Community on Faith and Resistance Retreats held three times a year in D.C. We also knew that after the guilty verdict we would need to return to TN for PSI reports and sentencing and it seemed better to begin serving the time.

These 131 days most of which were spent in a “for profit, private jail” (and that is a whole other story) taught me again how we treat the poorest in this country-the throw aways:

pain clinics, addictions, trauma, conspiracy laws, no trials, plea bargains, mandatory minimums, over-crowded federal and state prisons and lack of medical care – you know what happened to our Sister Jackie, may she rest in peace, and hers is one of many stories I could share.

I want to close with a story about our Sister Jackie Hudson.  When Jackie was giving a presentation she always ended by asking people “to take one step outside of their comfort zone.

Each of the warheads prepared or refurbished at Y-12 is known and intended to threaten or inflict vast, indiscriminate and uncontrollable heat, blast and radiation.   Life as we know it would cease.

After ten months of strict supervised release and 131 days in jails we come before this court as drops of water…drops of water that over time can wear away the stone.

And so Judge Guyton, prosecutors, U.S. Marshalls, court workers and friends, I stand before you today, in the memory of our Sister Jackie, who was to be sentenced in this courtroom on Monday, September 19th and say, “Let’s all take one step outside of our comfort zone.” Jackie Hudson, Order of Preachers, PRESENTE!

Sentencing Statement
September 16, 2011 –Knoxville TN
Carol Gilbert, OP
(Y-12 Action July 5, 2010)

Steve Baggarly’s Y-12 Sentencing Statement

Steve Baggarly Sept 19, 2011 Pre-sentence Statement – Y-12 Trials

The y-12 plant in Oak Ridge enriched the uranium that is
contained in every nuclear warhead in the United States’ arsenal. It
first produced weapons-grade uranium for the atomic bomb dropped on
 Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. Kozo Itagaki was one mile from
ground zero on that day:

“Victims of the blast seemed like ghosts, without a vestige of
clothing on their sore and burned bodies and it was hard to
distinguish their sex if you didn’t take a close look. They were
tottering toward the park, avoiding people who had sunk to the ground.
They were asking for help and water in a faint voice, with their arms
held out, with their skin peeled and hung down like potato skins.
Supposedly they thought there must be some remedy if they could reach
the top of the hill. But the next morning those who finally reached
the top were dead, falling one upon another without being able to get
medical treatment.

Together with some relatively healthy soldiers I spent days
relieving injured people in the city, collecting corpses, burying and
incinerating them, putting ashes in order, and so on. At around noon
four days after the incident, when we were at rest, a boy (he looked
like a third grader) came up with tottering steps and said, “Soldier,
please give me water.” I looked at him and saw that the boy had a sign
of jaundice. He also showed signs of dehydration. His hair had partly
fallen out. Everyone there agreed that if he drank water he would die.
I said I would bring him some a little later, and told him to lie down
under the tree for a while. And we proceeded with our conversation.
Suddenly I noticed the boy drinking sewage with his head down deep in
the gutter nearby. He soon died.”

Now I am a parent of a child and whenever I recall the happenings
I imagine how hard the boy was crying for Father and Mother in his
heart, or if the parents had been on the spot how much they would have
felt frantic; and I regret that I didn’t let him drink water there and

In Hiroshima, 100,000 people were killed instantly and another
100,000 died painful deaths within the next few months. Just the US
nuclear weapons ready for launching right now have over 55,000 times
the explosive power of that first bomb, and there are more in reserve.
As it is, the government is building three new nuclear bomb plants,
 including one at Oak Ridge, and is in the process of rehabbing and
upgrading every weapon in its stockpile to make them even more
powerful and to ensure they last into the next century. Through Y-12
nuclear weapons complex the Department of Energy, the US military,
Congress, the Federal Courts, the White House and the American people
conspire daily in preparation and rehearsal for the end of the world.

If the nation doesn’t repent of its nuclear idolatry, we won’t
even have the luxury of feeling regret should anything like the
following words of Jimmy Carter come to be:

“In an all-out nuclear war, more destructive power than all of
World War II would be unleashed every second during the long afternoon
it would take for the missiles and bombs to fall. A World War II every
second—more people killed in the first hours than all the wars in
history put together. The survivors, if any, would live in despair
amid the ruins of a civilization that had committed suicide.”

That such a possibility exists in a world filled with children is
unspeakable evil. The United States, as inventor of nuclear weapons,
the only nation ever to use them on human beings, and as perpetual
leader in the nuclear arms race, bears the greatest responsibility to
ensure such mass suicide never happens. At this critical time in
history, if there is to be any hope for stopping the proliferation of
nuclear weapons and moving toward a nuclear weapons-free world, the
United States must make good on international commitments to disarm.
It must act in spite of fear. With Manhattan Project-like
relentlessness, we must lead the world in a nuclear DIS-armament race.

If we as a people stop putting our faith in gods of metal, our
trust in superior firepower, seeking salvation in the DEATH OF
EVERYTHING… If we depart from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue
it, I believe we will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the

Mary Dennis’ Y-12 sentencing statement – centered on the sacred

Sentencing Statement Sept. 21, 2011
 Mary Dennis Lentsch (Elizabeth Ann)

I bow to the sacred in each person in this room and to my sisters and brothers around the world.

I bow to the sacred in all plants and animals.

I bow to the sacred in all the gifts of creation found on planet Earth and in our Universe.

In order to protect all the sacred gifts of creation, I feel called to do whatever is necessary to abolish nuclear weapons. My years of nonviolent resistance and acts of conscience have their roots in my Christian baptismal promise to renounce and resist evil, and in the public witness of my religious vows as a Catholic sister.

My heartfelt conviction for resisting nuclear weapons is reinforced by a passage from the Bible. In the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 30 verse 19 we read: “…I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life that you and future generations may live.”

It is a known fact that nuclear weapons are instruments of death and massive destruction. The explosion of a nuclear bomb gives off immense quantities of heat and energy, as well as powerful and prolonged radiation that cannot be contained in time and space. This violence of nuclear weapons has the potential to destroy all that is sacred—all living beings, as well as our ecosystems, and our planet.

At the peaceful gathering at Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on July 5, 2010, I carried a sign that read: “Continuing nuclear weapons production at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is in direct violation of the treaty obligations of the United States (The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Article VI), and therefore is a violation of Article 6 of the Constitution of the United States of America and fails to conform to our obligations under international law according to the ruling of the International Court of Justice, July 8, 1996.”

To my surprise a copy of this sign was not included in the Discovery Document from the government while the copies of two signs carried by other codefendants were included.

With my sign and nonviolent act of conscience, it was my hope to bring a lawless situation into the court of justice. It was my hope and expectation that the judge and jury would weigh in the balance of justice the gravity of the United States violating international law and the Constitution of the United States, with my puny action of calling attention to these violations regarding the continued nuclear bomb production at Y-12.

In the United States justice system, where it is expected that truth and integrity will be honored, should it not make a difference who breaks the law and what law is broken?

I am inspired and energized in my efforts to abolish nuclear weapons by the witness of Jesus, Nano Nagle, and so many other prophets who challenged unjust systems and oppressive government policies. Jesus resisted the unjust laws and oppression of his day. Nano Nagle, the foundress of the Presentation Sisters, resisted the government policies in Ireland by illegally giving religious instruction in her hedge schools.

Salvator Fink, a Franciscan priest, describes Nano Nagle in the following manner and I quote: “a woman whose love was stronger than viciousness, injustice, greed and violence that swamped her city and nation. She was a woman of indomitable courage, native shrewdness and indefatigable zeal for her faith. Challenging the brutal power of her people’s oppressors, she spent her life on the razor’s edge of danger.” As a member of the Presentation Sisters, I am inspired by the witness of deep faith and lived experience from this great woman.

Today I face a sentence of prison for my nonviolent action resisting nuclear weapons. Like Jesus, Nano Nagle, and many prophetic witnesses before me, I accept the consequential suffering of my decision to follow my conscience.

It is my prayerful hope that the nonviolent energy of each person in this room, and all people around the world, could one day soon, insure the sacred gift of life and existence for all in a nuclear-free future. We must abolish nuclear weapons!

Thank you.

Bix’s Y-12 statement – choosing life over death

September 25, 2011 [from Joe Power-Drutis]

Bix recently returned to Knoxville to be sentenced along with 10 other
nuclear resisters for their part in the Y-12 civil resistance act of
prayer at Oak Ridge Tennessee on July 5, 2010.

The following reading is his statement to the court prior to being
sentenced. After making his statement he was sentenced to 3 months in
Federal Prison for this misdemeanor act. He was granted his request to
self commit but has not as yet been given a commitment date.

Bix’s statement to the court – September 12, 2011

        I wish to thank the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA) Community of Eastern Tennessee which is committed to peacemaking for their warm welcome. Especially do I wish to thank Erik and Libby Johnson for their embracing hospitality and the gracious sharing of their home; they are what peacemaking is about.

        On Sunday, September 11th, I accompanied Erik and Libby to the
service at The Church of the Savior of the United Church of Christ.
The pastor, Rev. John Gill, emphasized the power of INTENTION in our
lives – for good or for evil – for destruction of creation – for hurt
or for healing. The question for us is whether we will choose to live
with intention – with commitment – or simply float through life with
more or less good intentions.

        Since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki we know the
crucifying destruction that was unleashed on the Japanese people and
the contagious twin diseases of fear and hopelessness that were
ushered into our world by those weapons. We as a people have been
wounded by the unrepented acts of violence against the Japanese
people. We live in nuclear bondage in which violence and fear has
infected our body politic and culture.

        Will we, individually and collectively, as a people intentionally
allow the presence, maintenance, and intended use of these unrelenting
weapons of death or will we resist their very existence. We allow
these weapons when we are indifferent, unconcerned, or in the dark
about them; or when we accept judicial protection of them. Unless we
live with the intention to resist and abolish these weapons we will
continue on the walk of death we are on now.

        We can choose life or death. We can intentionally commit ourselves to
walk the path of justice, so that every human being of every race is
nourished with what is necessary for a full human life – in which the
joy and potential of our global family blooms; or we can walk the path
of self-gain and/ or “might makes right” which leads to spiritual
death and a shattered world.

        The words of Martin Luther King Jr. talk to our times: “I refuse to
accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a
militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I
believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final
word in reality.” Martin Luther King also reminds us that: “The arc of
the universe bends toward Justice.”

       With the hope that this court and Judge bends with the arc of the
universe, I wish to recommit myself to the pursuit of Justice and to
resistance to forces of death such as nuclear weapons. For me this
means that I, intentionally, with the grace of God recommit myself to
the following of Jesus in his non-violence, forgiveness, and love. I
ask for the aid and support of Francis, Gandhi, Martin Luther King,
Oscar Romero, the four churchwomen Ita Ford, Maura Clark, Dorothy
Kazel and Jean Donovan, Dorothy Day, Jackie Hudson and also my living
compatriots that I might follow faithfully, even unto death, in the
path of Jesus. This also means, to affirm what gives life and to
resist what brings death to all people and our creation.

        I do this in conjunction with Sr. Jackie Hudson, OP who has given her
life to the pursuit of Justice. I join my resolve with Sue Albao,
faithful partner of Jackie, to continue the work of Jackie Hudson.

Y-12 Sentencing Summary…


After a whirlwind week (plus) of sentencings I thought it might help to see a summary (courtesy of Ralph Hutchison’s daily sentencing reports).  For more details on each Y-12 resister’s sentencing just scroll down the page.




Michael Walli, Steve Baggarly, Brad Lyttle, Mary Dennis Lentsch, Beth Rosdatter, Carol Gilbert, Jean Gump, Ardeth Platte, Jackie Hudson, Dennis Duvall, Bonnie Urfer, Bill Bichsel, David Corcoran (L to R, top to bottom)

Bill Bichsel was sentenced to three months prison time, and was allowed to self-report to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) upon his return to Tacoma.   It will be up to BOP to determine where he will serve those three months.  There will be no fine, and no supervised release.

Judge Guyton sentenced Steve Baggerly to 8 months in federal prison—he has served four months already. The judge did not levy a fine, and declined to order probation following his release.

Dennis Duvall was remanded to the custody of the Attorney General for a period of one month. No fine was levied, and no probation.

The judge sentenced Carol Gilbert to time served; imposed no fine or probation.

Jean Gump – time served and ordered to pay a fine of $500 (along with a “special fee” of $25).

Mary Dennis Lentsch – time served, with no probation or supervised release and no fine.

Brad Lyttle – The judge declared a sentence of one year probation, the first month to be served on home confinement. Drug tests were waived.

Ardeth Platte – time served, no fine, no probation, and a $25 special fee to be paid immediately.

Beth’s Rosdatter – a sentence of one month imprisonment, no supervised release, and no fine.

Judge Guyton sentenced Bonnie Urfer to eight months, with credit for time served (4 months and 3 days), no probation, and no fine. The sentence was to serve as an adequate deterrence and a just punishment, Guyton said.

Mike Walli – The judge declared a sentence of 8 months; no supervised release, no fine, and a $25 special fee.

Y-12 Sentencings: Dennis Duvall – “…we [humanity] get what we deserve.”

Y12 Resisters’ Sentencing • Day 7, Dennis DuVall [Witnessed and written by Ralph Hutchison]

Upon first meeting Dennis DuVall, with his Arizona tan, square jaw, bright eyes, and tall white cowboy hat, you can’t help but think “Marlboro Man.” Then you talk with Dennis and listen to the depth of his commitment, his bright wit, his thoughtful response in almost any circumstance, and you realize there is a lot going on under that hat.

That was never more apparent than this morning, in federal court in Knoxville, when Dennis stood before the judge. The hearing was a little a-kilter, because Dennis’s attorney, Robert Kurtz, had challenged his pre-sentencing report and it’s assignment of category points. Eventually the judge would recess to consider and then deny the motion, but the effect at the beginning of the hearing was the judge completely skipped the prosecution’s recommendation on Dennis’s sentence.

Instead, he turned to Dennis to ask if he had anything to say. And Dennis brought order back to the court, with a statement of clarity and power.

“I’ve done a lot of thinking over the past four months,” Dennis began, after thanking his supporters, “and I conclude that we get what we deserve. Not the Y12 defendants, but humanity.

“Sadly, over sixty-six years, we have learned to live with the bomb. Most people are apathetic or complacent, or brainwashed, such as the jury that sat in this court. Then there are the lawmakers, the politicians who make sure the corporate oligarchy has a nuclear arsenal to protect its profit-taking and political power. And we have a system of justice that protects the purveyors of weapons intended for mass murder, while punishing those who risk their personal freedom standing up for the abolition of nuclear weapons as all the nations of the world and our own Nobel Peace Prize-winning President has continued to appeal for.

“What kind of democracy is it where we cannot talk about these things?”

Dennis said, “What bothers me the most, and what I care most about, is that the destructive power of our weapons threatens all life on Earth. I have to ask myself, how can I live with the reality that humankind’s march toward annihilation threatens the entire web of life on our planet? It is the ultimate affront to the miracle of life that one species would threaten one million species, all having a unique place in God’s creation.

“This is the destructive arrogance of Y12, threatening the extinction of all Creation in the aftermath of thermonuclear H-bomb explosions.”

Dennis went on to explain how a nuclear exchange would destroy the ozone layer (after asking permission to be allowed to be pedantic for a moment), citing the report of a conference of public health and medical experts in 1980 titled The Last Epidemic: The Medical Consequences of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear War.

Dennis noted the history of thermonuclear weapons tests in space and attempted to explain the scale of the monstrosity of nuclear weapons to the court. “A 100-kiloton W76 H-bomb made at Y12 equals an amount of explosive that would require a train 20 miles long to carry.”

Chiding the prosecution’s characterization of the actions of the defendants as a whole, Dennis said, “My personal act of conscience was not just a well-meaning or well-intentioned protest. Edward Abbey said, ‘Sentiment without action is ruination to the soul.’ My nonviolent action at Y12 was a principled act of resistance in defense of Mother Earth, a peaceful and deliberate act of conscience for all Creation.”

Dennis closed with a request, “For this reason, I would urge everyone to trespass at Y2, and in the spirit of Jackie Hudson—Resist always!”

Dennis’s lawyer indicate Dennis did not desire a lengthy term of probation or supervised release, but was requesting a sentence at the low end of his sentencing range, 1-7 months. The judge took a recess, returning ten minutes later to pronounce sentence: Dennis was remanded to the custody of the Attorney General for a period of one month. No fine was levied, and no probation.

Y-12 Sentencings: Beth Rosdatter – What is the real threat???

Y12 Resisters’ Sentencing • Day Six, Part 2: Beth Rosdatter [from Ralph Hutchison]

To fully appreciate Beth Rosdatter’s sentencing hearing, one would have to have been present during the trial in May. Before the trial, Judge Bruce Guyton ruled a few things out of bounds—any discussion of nuclear policy, nuclear weapons, faith, motivation, good intent, and, mostly, anything that might evoke sympathy or understanding on the part of a juror. He was granting a prosecution request at the time, and the problem he ran into early on, with the first witness, was the prosecution asking about nuclear policy.

It wasn’t until later in the trial, when Beth took the stand, that the prosecutor asked her a direct question about her motive. She hesitated, then looked at the judge and said, “I think she just asked me a question you don’t want me to answer.” This precipitated a sidebar conversation with the lawyers, at the end of which the judge admonished all parties to be mindful of his ruling.

Eventually Beth and the others were found guilty of trespass for their July 2010 crossing of the boundary at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and she remained free on recognizance bond until today, when she stood before the judge.

”This defendant,” said prosecutor Melissa Kirby, departing from her customary minimal report to the judge, “show a bit of defiance. In her sentencing memo she says the court’s sentence will have no deterrent effect, and during her testimony at trial she violated the court’s order and the court had to instruct her.” It was a stunning display of audacity, but it only lasted a moment.

Beth’s lawyer rose to explain, pointing out that the sentencing memo did not express particular defiance from Beth, but pointed out that for some protesters with deeply held beliefs, there is no deterrent effect possible. “Tax resisters,” said Wayne Scarborough, “believe it is their duty as citizens to resist paying taxes, and they will continue to resist no matter what the law says or what the IRS does.”

He went on to tell the judge that Beth requested she be shown no leniency not extended to her co-defendants, and no probation or supervised release. Then he pointed out that during the trial, the sidebar and admonishment was occasioned by the questioning of the prosecution, in violation of the order it had requested.

The judge had one question. “Ms. Rosdatter, if you are sentenced to a prison term, do you intend to enter custody today?” Beth answered, “Yes.” She was then called to the lectern for her elocution.

“I’ve been reading portions of the testimony of other defendants,” she said, “and they have spoken eloquently to many of the issues I would talk about—Bonnie talking about the justice system, Steve Baggarly speaking of the morality of nuclear weapons, and Brad explaining how the weapons actually make us all less safe.

“I just want to say the government says we threatened the security of the United States by crossing the line. That is a lie. They know it is a lie. The threat is not us—the threat to our security is the bombs; all we are doing is saying they are there. If we are a threat, we are a threat to the policy of hegemony. These bombs are illegal, and the government that up. The system protects the powerful at the expense of the rest of us, and that is unjust.”

The judge recessed the hearing to make arrangements for Beth’s custody and returned a few minutes later to hand down a sentence of one month imprisonment, no supervised release, and no fine. “You are immediately remanded to the custody of the Attorney General,” he said, and it was over.

The marshals allowed her a quick hug with her son, Arlo, 15 years old. “Quickly,” he said. “You are in custody.” And then they put the cuffs on and led her away.

Y-12 Sentencing: Brad Lyttle – “The Flaw of Deterrence”

[Brad Lyttle’s sentencing, September 20, by Ralph Hutchison]

If Brad and the judge were going to have a difference of opinion, it wasn’t going to be over Brad’s lack of courtesy. “Mr. Lyttle, can you hear me?” Judge Bruce Guyton asked, as he does of every defendant at the beginning of proceedings. “I certainly can, your honor,” replied Brad cheerfully. And then he thanked the judge for releasing his passport allowing him to travel to Afghanistan and Canada while he was on supervised release, for being kind and open-minded, for assigning the public defender to assist him in his self-representation. Then turning to the Assistant District Attorney, Melissa Kirby, he offered his congratulations on her marriage.

The government made no recommendation about Brad’s sentence, preferring to defer to the judgement of the court. Brad’s history and points placed him in the range to receive a sentence of 1-7 months.

Brad’s elocution called to mind the recent commemorations of September 11, the moving pictures of the catastrophic destruction wrought in New York—“buildings collapsed, people bereaved, in search of loved ones. Over two thousand people in New York alone. I was deeply moved.”

Then Brad cited the testimony of the Manager of Y12 during the trial; Ted Sherry declined to say how powerful the W76 warhead, currently being refurbished at Y12, was, but Brad filled in the gap—if it were exploded in lower Manhattan, “it would all be wiped out, probably every human, and a large number of people in Brooklyn. Every borough of New York City would be on fire. One thousand times the destructive power of Hiroshima.” Brad went on to note that Mr. Sherry did acknowledge the US possesses more than 5,000 of those bombs. Noting Russia maintains a similar arsenal and “untold others” held by other nations, Brad said, “The machine is in place for total destruction of the entire human race. We’re not talking about cities that can be rebuilt; we’re talking about wiping out the human race. Y12 contributes to this machine through the work of refurbishing nuclear warheads. This is reality.”

Then Brad got to the heart of his argument, noting the judge would not permit a jury to hear it. He gave the judge and the prosecutor a copy of his paper, “The Flaw of Deterrence,” which applies the science of probability assessment to the argument of deterrence. “The probability approaches certainty over time.” The fact that it is impossible to know when is tantamount to playing Russian roulette with a revolver that holds an unknown number of bullets. “To play once is irrational,” Brad noted. “And this is the situation with nuclear weapons.”

Coming to a close, Brad said, “Our action was completely justified and necessary to keep the human species from destroying itself. I hope you will take that into consideration; the jury had no chance to hear it.”

After the morning session, the judge summoned Brad’s assigned counsel, Kim Tollison, to chambers for a chat. Kim subsequently spent twenty minutes locked in the conference room with Brad. The upshot was the judge indicated he would not put Brad in prison if Brad would promise not to do it again. But Brad would make no such promise.

Instead, citing his age and health concerns, Brad allowed as how he has no plans at the current time to engage in similar actions at Y12. We held our breath waiting to see if the judge would  push for a promise.

Instead, the judge declared a sentence of one year probation, the first month to be served on home confinement. Drug tests were waived. And with that, court was adjourned. In the gallery, the audience danced little celebratory dances.

Y-12 sentencings: Steve Baggarly – “depart from the Gods of metal”

Y12 Resisters’ Sentencing Report [by Ralph Hutchison]

DAY FIVE, PART I • 20 September 2011, Steve Baggarly

The purpose of the hearing was to sentence Steve Baggarly for his July 2010 trespass at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex, but when the Judge turned to ask Steve if he had anything to say, Steve delivered a message that was part indictment of the bomb plant and part map of the path to hope.

He began with the simple fact that Y12 enriched the uranium for the Little Boy bomb and produced the thermonuclear secondary for every nuclear weapon in the US arsenal. He illustrated the true nature of the bomb with a recollection of the story of a Hiroshima survivor, Kozu Itagaki, who reported: “Victims of the blast seemed like ghosts, without a vestige of clothing, their sex unclear, tottering toward the park, their skin hanging down like potato skins. They climbed toward the top of the hill, supposing they would find relief, but the next morning they were found dead at the top of the hill.” Itagaki-san spent the next days collecting corpses, interrupted in that work by a young boy who approached begging for water. “We saw the signs of jaundice, dehydration, his hair falling out. We agreed that if we gave him water, he would die. We told him to sit under the tree, and we would bring him water later. When we looked over, we saw that he had put his head into sewage and drank there and died. Now that I am a parent, I realize how hard he was crying in his heart for his mother and his father, and I regret that I did not give him water to drink.”

The weapons being produced by the United States today have the power of thousands of Hiroshima bombs, Steve said, and he cited the Congress, the White House, the courts and the American people for a conspiracy and daily rehearsal of the end of the world. “If we do not repent of this idolatry,” Steve said, “we will not even have a chance to regret it.” He quoted Jimmy Carter’s assessment that a nuclear exchange would unleash the entire firepower of World War 2 every second. “Survivors,” Carter said, and Steve repeated,”will live in despair, in a world that has committed suicide.”

Steve(right) & friends dancing on a B-52

“To require children to live in a world threatened by nuclear weapons is an unspeakable evil,” Steve told the court, “and the United States has a moral responsibility to make sure it never happens. If we have any hope for a nuclear weapons free future, the United States must lead, acting with the relentlessness of the Manhattan Project, a nuclear disarmament race.

“We must depart from the Gods of metal,” Steve said, “Depart from evil and seek good, and only then will we see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

The Judge read the formalities, noting Steve’s several convictions, most recently in March 2010, making him a Category 4 offender, in the 6-12 month range according to the sentencing guidelines. He then sentenced Steve to 8 months in federal prison—he has served four months already. The judge did not levy a fine, and declined to order probation following his release.

Court adjourned, and we bid Steve blessings of peace as he was led in shackles out of the courtroom. Moments later, we enlisted the help of the US Assistant District Attorney to amend the Judge’s order to recommend Steve’s assignment to the federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia.

Steve will be held in Blount County jail where he is cell mates with Mike Walli. It is not clear how long they will be in Tennessee or where they will be moved to when they are moved, but we have scheduled visitation for Saturday morning.

Brad Lyttle will face Judge Guyton for sentencing this afternoon, at 1:30pm.

%d bloggers like this: