Transform Now Plowshares: Let the trial begin!!!

Dear Friends,

As I write this our dear friends Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed of the Transform Now Plowshares are in the thick of the second day of their trial in Federal District Court in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Yesterday was jury selection. Today they get down to the real business at hand.

Bix travelled back to Knoxville to be with them, and based on the photo I saw of him whooping it up with Sr. Megan during yesterday’s street celebration, it should be quite a week.

This trial is NOT – although one might not know it from nearly any of the media coverage – about lax security at a major nuclear weapons production facility (although one might ask questions about that).

  • It is about the total lack of security provided by the continued pursuit of nuclear weapons.
  • It is about the fundamental immorality of weapons that kill indiscriminately and on a massive scale, and leave a continuous trail of death far into subsequent generations.
  • It is about the fact that it is impossible for nuclear weapons and true human security to co-exist.  Nuclear weapons are against all that is human, and do not fit within any moral framework.
  • It is about why the United States continues to consider itself above our own laws, international humanitarian law and treaty obligations.
  • It is about asking questions such as how does the continuing buildup (by the US) of its nuclear weapons infrastructure along with the production of new weapons systems (example: the new generation of ballistic missile submarines in research and development) move us towards a nuclear weapons free world???
  • It is about whether we will we choose to base our nation (and our world) on a culture of peace or a culture of violence?  And nuclear weapons are truly the taproot of violence.

The Transform Now Plowshares has a website/blog where you can keep up with trial developments on a daily basis.  While you’re at the  blog you can sign up (see the upper right hand column) to get updates by email.

Let’s hold Greg, Megan and Michael and all who support them through their trial in our thoughts and prayers this week and beyond.

In Peace,

Leonard

Transform Now Plowshares URL: http://transformnowplowshares.wordpress.com/

The Grinch tries (unsuccessfully) to steal Christmas…

Friends,

It’s Christmas Eve.  As we prepare for the coming of the Prince of Peace many of our comrades are spending Christmas in prison for following in His nonviolent ways.  Meanwhile, the Grinch has scheduled yet another trial for Y-12 resister David Corcoran who was unable to be tried with the rest of the group earlier this year.  Here is an update from Ralph Hutchison of OREPA.

We have received word from the Corcorans that Dave’s trial is scheduled for wednesday, December 28. He is represented by a family friend and intends to enter a plea of guilty. Dave expects to be sentenced in january. I am not sure what his point range is, but he indicated he expects he might receive as much as 6 months. We’ll send more information when we know it.

May you all find Peace in this season of miracles, and may we all find strength to continue the long struggle for a nuclear weapon-free world in the coming year.

On the journey together in Peace,

Leonard

Update on David Corcoran of the Y-12 resisters

(Editor’s Note:  Here’s a brief report from Ralph Hutchison of OREPA about David Corcoran, one of the Y-12 defendants.  David was not tried with the others do to his health)

all,

i had a nice chat with barb and then dave when he returned from the courthouse where he was signing papers. he is doing much better physically and sounds better.

dave’s trial, scheduled to begin on monday, nov 14 in knoxville, will not happen then. it appears as though his trial will be moved from knoxville.there is no new trial date set, and barb said it may not happen until after the first of the year. they have been assigned a new lawyer, a woman they know and like. “we’ve been arrested with her,” barb said.

so that’s the news.

peace,
ralph

Y-12 Sentencings: Letters and Donations Needed!

Dear friends,

It’s been a little over a year since we were together at the Resistance for a Nuclear-free Future gathering in Tennessee.  We have some news to share as well as 2 requests: one for funds to support the resisters in prison, and another for you to write letters to the judge who will soon be sentencing 11 of the 13 friends who crossed onto Y-12 on July 5, 2010. Continue reading

Sister Mary Dennis’ Letter from Prison

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Sr. Mary Dennis’ (aka: Elizabeth Ann Lentsch) is one of the Y-12 prisoners of conscience currently held in the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia.  To write a letter to any of these prisoners, CLICK HERE.

****************

July 8, 2011

Dear Peacemaking Friends,

With all the prayers and positive energy coming to me from so many directions, I feel I’m doing very well here at the Ocilla jail.

This letter is being written to LaQuita with what the commissary calls a “ballpoint pen”. It is the skinny little filler for a pen so it is difficult to hold and write. It costs 60 cents. In the “real world” at the Dollar General store you can get 10 Bic pens for $1.00. LaQuita and Carol receives my letter and put it on the computer and email it out. I’m so grateful for their gift of time and energy to keep me connected. Continue reading

Y-12 Sentencing Dates

Friends,

Details, details, details…  First you get convicted; that’s a sure thing when there is absolutely no way to argue any sort of reasonable defense (you know – threat or use of nuclear weapons is illegal, etc, etc…….).  Then you cool your heels (always wanted to use that phrase) while you await the inevitable sentencing.  Sooner or later (usually later; the slow wheels of injustice) they finish those lengthy pre-sentencing reports that provide the judge with (in many cases) a litany of bad deeds (if you consider resisting something that is immoral and illegal a “bad deed”), and a clerk records sentencing dates. Continue reading

Expanded Plowshares News, or We’re all in this together

Update May 13, 2011

My Friends,

We have expanded Plowshares News to include the 13 members of the DOE
Y-12 action on July 5, 2010 in Oakridge Tennessee.

If the Trident Submarines, harbored in the beautiful Puget Sound of
the Great Northwest, are the proverbial mother load of weapon systems,
then it’s the Governments Y-12 thermonuclear bomb making plant here in
the beautiful Tennessee Valley that impregnates the Trident with its
babies. Disarm Now Plowshares Resistors and the Y-12 Resistors are a
family of peace makers committed to resisting such death driven
monster systems. Indeed, Bix is of particular importance to both
actions.

On May 11, 2010, 7 of the 13 nuclear resistors, who demonstrated and
were charged with trespassing at the Department of Energy Y-12 Complex
on July 5, 2010, were remanded to prison after 3 days of a jury trial.
Bix makes their number 8 but he was already in custody from the
Plowshares action of November 2, 2009.

I encourage you to link onto any of these sites for up to date
information about Y-12 or Plowshares.

http://www.gzcenter.org
https://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com
http://nuclearresister.org
http://psnukefree.blogspot.com/

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)

Jean and Jackie are in the same pod, Ardeth, Carol and Bonnie are
together in another pod. Michael and Steve were placed in the Medical
Block for now due to a shortage of space in the general population.

Little by little, I am discovering that due to restrictions placed on
inmates and supporters, options for inmates are far more limited than
any other place I have encountered; and, what aid we can provide is
also limited and expensive.

There are 3 correctional facilities here in Knox County; and each
facility operates differently.

Here are some of the things I have discovered about Blount County
Correctional Facility (BCCF)

– Each inmate has to fill out a form to place someone on their
visitors list – can only have 4 people on the list and is permitted
only one hour a week of visitation.

– Commissary is only once a week –Everything in the commissary is over
the top expensive: i.e. one envelope and stamp cost 75 cents. Almost
nothing is provided you. Everything must be purchased. I am only
beginning to uncover the racket that exists – inmates and supporters
are at the mercy of the privateers.

– The only thing the inmate can receive from the outside is letters
and photo’s.

– They cannot receive any packages, magazines or books in any way from
the outside. I was assured by an employee of BCCF that inmates have an
adequate supply of books and the prison chaplain replenishes the books
regularly. I received this information with just a mild pause and was
waiting to see if I was going to be sold some prime real-estate in the
bayou.

– Telephones: Oh my god, it’s a nightmare. Though each facility is
different in how they make phones available to the inmate, what they
have in common is how expensive they have made it. This is an area I
am trying to map out before I send out any information at all. The
best I can make out at this time, is a 10 minute call will cost
anywhere 12 and 30 dollars, depending on where you are calling in the
country.

– So, as I said until I am sure of my information I will hold off on
sending you anything at this time. I believe it will be resolved in
the next week.

Libby and Erik Johnson, Ralph Hutchison and I visited Jackie Hudson
this morning. The visiting time allotted to her is on Saturday morning
from 9 to 10 AM – Period! That’s It!

Jackie appeared fine; chatting and joking and in good spirits. She
reports the food is jail food—bland and little variety. The jail is
crowded; there are 3 in her cell. She and Jean Gump are together; the
others are in a different area, they don’t get to visit with them.
They do make visual contact on their way to the recreation area, but
it is a one-way visual contact.

Jackie reported there is next to nothing to do and boredom is your
closest companion. Unlike what I was told at the front desk, readable
books are nonexistent and generally anything to circumvent the
inmate’s plight in this area is nipped in the bud. Their ability to
send letters out is severely limited. Letters only can come in, no
cards, news clippings, magazines, or books, and she was told that if
we send any articles downloaded off the net they will be confiscated;
all mail is checked.

She and Jean borrowed a radio from another inmate and shared ear buds
and listened to NPR last night. When Ralph told her she was missing
“wait, wait, don’t tell me” as we visited, she rose as if to leave—so
sense of humor fully intact.
I believe is important to infuse their commissary account with
sufficient funds to get a radio.

Jackie sends good wishes and her love to all we encounter; and this
includes you. We conveyed the support of many to Jackie and asked her
to share it with the others.

The architect of BCCF had absolutely no intention of utilizing his/her
god given creativity. Our friends currently reside in a two story, six
sided building with another square building attached to one end. The
building is a solid slab of concrete from top to bottom and in each
wall there are 2 rows of windows (16 in all), approximately 10 inches
by 4 feet, the entire window is tinted so you cannot see in or out.
Were they allowed to see out they might get a magnificent view of the
Great Smoky Mountains – but then again they may as well be on the
moon. Actually when I come to think of it this building may fit in
very well on the moon!

Money can be put into each inmates commissary account either by money
order, or coming to the jail (before noon, Monday – Friday and placing
the funds (in cash) directly into their account. (Money orders can be
done but it is a process, be in touch with me if you want to support
them in that way.)

If you would like to financially assist the Y-12 resistors with
commissary and phone expenses it would be very much appreciated. Your
check can be made out 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.

Maintaining support for the 5 Disarm Now Plowshare Resistors and now
organizing to meet the needs of the Y-12 Resistors is of primary
importance. There is a reason the government placed this terrible
demonic bomb making plant so far and away from the sights of most of
its citizenry.

Much the same as we in the Northwest have learned to live with
apparent comfort with the Trident Sub Base just 30 miles from our
front door, folks here in Tennessee are equally complacent with Y-12
since 1942. Our fiends in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the recipients
of the first babies born to this complex. And still with all the
silver tongue double talk being broadcasted D.C. about downsizing our
nuclear arsenal, how many of us are aware that 6 Billion or more
dollars are presently being spent to upgrade our nuclear bomb making
capabilities here in this sleepy corner of Oakridge Tennessee.

I will be remaining in this beautiful part of the country until most
likely after June 27th. A number of us are doing what we can to put
together whatever support we can for all of the Y-12 Resistors. Any
support you may want to add is also much appreciated.

Joe Power-Drutis
jpdrutis@mail.com

Y-12 Trial Ends – Guilty as Charged!

Editor’s Note: This came in earlier this evening from our ace reporter on the scene in Knoxville, Joe Power-Drutis.

Right on the money, at 5PM, a jury of 12 returned after less than 30 minutes recess to deliver a unanimous verdict of “GUILTY” for 12 Y-12 nuclear resistors at the Knoxville Court House.

The following peace activists were charged with trespassing at the Department of Energy Y-12 Project on July 5, 2010. Thirteen people took part in the action, David Corcoran, because of health reasons has been granted a later court date.

Carol Gilbert,OP,Ardeth Platte,OP,Jackie Hudson,OP, Bonnie Urfer,Michael Walli,Jean Gump and Steve Bggarly were immediately taken into custody.

Bradford Lyttle,Dennis DuVall,Sr. Mary Dennis Lentsch and Beth Rosdatter remain free on bond until a later sentencing date is arranged.

Fr.Bill Bichsel,S.J., who is currently serving a sentence for the Disarm Now Plowshares action of November 2, 2009, is remanded to the Knox County Detention Facility until his sentencing for this Y-12 action, on June 27, 2011.

On Thursday May 12, an overview of the three days of this trial will be covered.

In the meantime link onto http://www.knoxnews.com for the latest local news of the hearing. Knox news covered this event in court all three days; log onto Knox News for May 11th for another insightful report.

Editor’s End Note: You can read Ralph Hutchison’s full length trial wrap-up by clicking here.

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
process.

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
Penitentiary.

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
Knoxville.

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
improved.

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.

Bix testified today!

Friends,

Our roving reporter, Sue Ablao, has been checking in from time to time with updates from the trial of the Y-12 nuclear resisters.  It was 85 degrees in Knoxville today, and everyone was happy to be in a cool courtroom.  Speaking of cool, Bix testified today as the defense began to present its case.  Bix, who had been looking pretty sleepy earlier in the day, perked right up once he hit the stand and gave it 100 percent.  That is so BiX!!!

More details on the Y-12 trial and regular updates at The Nuclear Abolitionist (Y-12 Witness page).

Also, if you missed this weekend’s action at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, click here to read about it and see the photos.  Many Tacoma folks participated, and we honored the Disarm Now Plowshares.

Peace,

Leonard

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