|Federal Convictions at Y-12|
People arrested last April 14 while blocking roads in front of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee have been convicted in both state and federal courts.
On April 24, Anderson County Judge Don Layton convicted 11 people of obstructing a highway, and sentenced them to 25 hours community service or a $50 fine. Of the 21 people arrested when their blockade moved from the gate to a nearby major intersection, nine pleaded no contest and will also pay fines or do community service. A videographer had his charge dismissed.
In June, the first federal trespass case arising out of several years of the "Stop the Bombs" civil resistance campaign was heard in Knoxville. For personal reasons, Lena Feldmann changed her plea to guilty before trial. She will be sentenced September 16.
Remaining defendants Mary Adams, Sr. Mary Dennis Lentsch, and Tim Mellen chose a road well-traveled by more than two decades of nuclear resisters: they staked their defense on the illegality of nuclear weapons under international law. Occasionally, this road has led defendants to an acquittal in some state and local jurisdictions. But federal prosecutors and judges have colluded over time to create formidable roadblocks, now anchored by precedent-setting losses in the federal courts.
Federal Magistrate Clifton Shirley, on the bench less than six months, considered pretrial motions in early June. Sr. Lentsch presented the elements of a defense of necessity in light of international law. After a few days thought, he ruled against the necessity defense, and topped that barrier with the legal barbed-wire that prohibits defendants from testifying about the facts of nuclear weapons production and threats to use them, the very facts that prompted their protest.
Jurors at their June 18 trial, held back by the same legal roadblock as the accused, but lacking even the defendants' vision of where the road could lead, returned a prompt guilty verdict. Sentencing for Adams, Lentsch, and Mellen is set for September 20.
For more information, contact the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA), POB 5743, Oak Ridge, TN 37831, (865)483-8202, email: firstname.lastname@example.org web: www.stopthebombs.org.