A Review of Ongoing Campaigns...
- Oak Ridge Y-12
For the last six years, the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA) has been organizing throughout the southeastern United States, bringing people to protest nuclear weapons production at the Y-12 factory at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Civil disobedience has resulted in both federal and state prosecutions depending on where the arrest occurs.
More than 300 people converged in August 2003, to commemorate the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Once again, Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhists from Atlanta departed on the anniversary of the Trinity atomic test, July 16, and walked with others over the Appalachians to join the demonstrations at Oak Ridge. On Sunday, August 10, six people cable-locked together the metal police barricades at the plant gate, then propped a coffin against the barricade, inscribed with the words "Y-12 Closed for Life." They were arrested by local police, and five remained in jail overnight. On Monday morning they all entered pleas of no contest. Five were fined $50 plus costs. Gordon Maham, a repeat offender in front of this judge, was sentenced to an additional day in jail.
Maham was arrested again along with Kip Williams and Mary Dennis Lentsch at the April 18, 2004, demonstration at Oak Ridge. They were cited and released, and two days later appeared before Oak Ridge Judge Ronald Murch. Williams and Lentsch were each fined $50 plus costs. Maham, appearing for the third time in two years, was sentenced to five days in jail plus $537 in fine and court costs. He was released on April 26.
Gordon Maham, 87, worked in the 1940's as a civil engineer in construction at Y12. When Hiroshima showed him the nature of his work, he resigned his position and then refused post-war conscription, spending three years in prison as a conscientious objector. An Ohio resident, Maham was ordered back to court July 7 for a hearing on contempt for not paying the fine. He wrote the judge instead, explaining again that he doesn't have the money, but a warrant now awaits him in Tennessee.
Another local judge was the first to jail a Y12 defendant last summer, and it was another octogenarian. Judy Ross was one of six people arrested in March, 2003, and spent 2 days in jail. The other five were fined or performed community service. Judge Don Layton ironically revealed his part in the problem at hand when telling Ross, who he'd seen before, "This is a battle of wills. Your will to stop nuclear weapons against my will to enforce the law. And I am going to win."
For more information, contact the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, POB 5743, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, (865)483-8202, email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.stopthebombs.org