Three anti-nuclear weapons activists facing federal trespassing charges after sneaking into a high-security area at the Y-12 National Security Complex on Saturday have waived a detention hearing, meaning they will remain jailed for now, a court representative said Monday.
The three Plowshares activists are Michael R. Walli, 63, of Washington, D.C.; Megan Rice, 82, of New York; and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, of Duluth, Minn. They have been jailed at the Blount County Corrections Facility.
The federal trespassing charges reportedly carry potential sentences of up to one year in prison and one year of supervised release as well as a maximum $100,000 fine. Supporters and officials have said other charges are possible.
“The government wanted the defendants to remain in custody, and they agreed to do so,” said Mallory Maurer, courtroom deputy in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Tennessee in Knoxville.
Pushing for disarmament, the activists allegedly sneaked through four fences at the Y-12 National Security Complex before dawn Saturday and spray-painted messages and splashed human blood on the walls of a uranium storage building before they were detained by security guards.
Maurer said the defendants, who reportedly initiated the first security breach of the Protected Area on Y-12’s west end, have a preliminary hearing with Magistrate Bruce Guyton at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.
During an initial appearance on trespassing charges Monday, Wall and Rice were appointed attorneys, and Boertje-Obed said he wants to represent himself, Maurer said. Boertje-Obed was appointed “elbow counsel,” an attorney who will be present at hearings and can answer questions.
The protesters said nuclear weapons work at Y-12, which was built during the Manhattan Project in World War II, violates international law.
“We come to the Y-12 facility because our very humanity rejects the designs of nuclearism, empire, and war,” read a statement reported to be from the activists and forwarded by supporters. “Our faith in love and nonviolence encourages us to believe that our activity here is necessary; that we come to invite transformation, undo the past and present work of Y-12; disarm and end any further efforts to increase the Y-12 capacity for an economy and social structure based upon war-making and empire-building.”
Federal spokesman Steven Wyatt has said Saturday’s security breach is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Energy Inspector General.
Courtney Henry, spokeswoman for security contractor WSI Oak Ridge, declined comment Monday, referring questions to Wyatt.
In a telephone interview Monday evening, Wyatt declined to answer most new questions about the incident and said he couldn’t answer others. He said federal officials have released as much information as they can for now.
“We’re in the review and investigation process,” Wyatt said.
The investigation will look at all aspects of what took place Saturday, he said. Wyatt said he didn’t want to speculate on how long the investigation would take.
He said the activists were detected Saturday when they entered the 150-acre perimeter intrusion detection assessment system, or PIDAS, that surrounds the nuclear operations area at Y-12. That system warned of the intrusion, and the plant’s protective force responded, Wyatt said.