Washington Post interview with Sister Megan Rice
regarding the act of civil disobedience for which she now faces criminal charges.
Sister Megan Rice, an 83 year-old nun who helped conceptualize and organize the OccupyNukes coordinated day of actions on August 6, 2012 to remember the suffering of those in Hiroshima and call for an end to nuclear weapons, is presently facing a possible 30-year jail sentence for breaking into a high security nuclear weapons facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee last summer.
The facility, known only as "Y12", is used to enrich uranium to produce nuclear weapons. Hoping to bring attention to its existence—and to the massive amounts of money poured the nuclear weapons industry—Rice and two other members of a peace organization known as Transform Now Plowshares managed to cut, climb and hike their way inside the facility on July 28, 2012. After reaching its highest security area, the group spray-painted messages of peace on the building, splashed human blood on the walls, and erupted into prayer and song before they were finally discovered by a guard.
The U.S. government is now seeking the stiffest penalties possible for the three—charging them with "federal crimes of terrorism" including sabotage and felony property damage, which could yield them sentences of up to 30 years in prison. A Common Dreams article explains:
In a mere five months, government charges transformed them from misdemeanor trespassers to multiple felony saboteurs. The government also successfully moved to strip the three from presenting any defenses or testimony about the harmful effects of nuclear weapons.
The U.S. Attorney’s office…asked the court to bar the peace protestors from being allowed to put on any evidence regarding the illegality of nuclear weapons, the immorality of nuclear weapons, international law, or religious, moral or political beliefs regarding nuclear weapons, the Nuremberg principles developed after WWII, First Amendment protections, necessity or US policy regarding nuclear weapons.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Rice gave powerful insight into what helped lead the three to commit the powerful civil disobedience act.:
Rice said the word "sabotage" is grimly ironic."
"They want to say that what we did was what each of them are doing all the time with their nuclear weapons industry," said Rice.
In response to a question about whether the protesters did "willfully injure, destroy and contaminate, and attempt to injure, destroy and contaminate national-defense premises," as the indictment charges, Rice said, "Each of the verbs you have repeated would apply to what the government would do in the nuclear weapons industry alone."
The case, she said, is "a very good opportunity to point that out to those who live in a state of denial."
I had the honor and privilege of spending several days with Rice in the summer of 2006, including a ceremony held on August 6th at the Nevada Test Site in commemoration of the 61st year since the Hiroshima atomic bombing that was organized by the Nevada Desert Experience grassroots peace organization. I was deeply moved by how Rice viewed problems such as war, poverty and environmental destruction as sharing the same diseased root—and how she cultivated a profound hope that human beings would indeed one day reverse the existing destructive trends to achieve a world of sustainability, love and connection.
"Although we all may have different beliefs, everyone has a piece of the truth," Rice told me during one of the numerous inspirational conversations I was able to share with her.
During an interview, Rice also told me:
Our mission (at Nevada Desert Experience) is to bring people to the desert so that they –we—can physically feel the energy and the beauty and the harmony which is there, and get to know in a new and deeper way the enormous wounding and injury which has been done to mother nature in all its forms—the mountains, the atmosphere, the plants, the animals, and certainly the humans in all their psychic dimensions—as repercussions of that very unnatural, steady, unbelievably excessive detonation of bombs that will hopefully never be used, but had to be tested, perhaps because there were a lot of contracts—this is a way of keeping up an economy—this military industrial economy which has been a form of corruption in the latter half of the 20th century, and moving even more so into the 21st century. So our focus is on creating that awareness and trying to create awareness about the contractors who promote this and keep it going.
Megan Rice, just before her trial, speaking powerfully on "being led" by holy (and wholely) forces in her actions,
how the media is practicing selective focus on the incident, and how "our lovely planet is "under desperate, imminent sabotage" which we are now at the stage of "transforming into
an almost infinite number of possibilities... that are totally life-enhancing."
These articles from Waging Nonviolence and the New York Times give more background on the incident for which Rice and the two other protesters now stand charged, with a particular focus on Rice's lifelong history as a passionate activist advocating the ideals of love and justice.
This powerful piece put together by the Washington Post—which also filmed the video above—recounts the incident together with the philosophical ideals that led the three to commit the act for which they have said they were willing to give their lives if it would help them achieve their objectives.
Transform Now Plowshares is sponsoring a initiative asking for postcards to be sent to the sentencing judge to request leniency for the three accused. Sentencing will be held on September 23, 2013.