The Seattle man who was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing at the Y-12 National Security Complex on Sunday had repeatedly failed to comply with police commands, and he crossed a blue trespass line at the main entrance to the nuclear weapons plant, authorities said.
Christopher Ryan Spicer, 31, was participating in a weekly protest at Y-12 at about 6 p.m. Sunday at the intersection of Bear Creek and Scarboro roads. This protest was significant because it occurred less than two days before the scheduled sentencing of the three protesters who broke into Y-12 in July 2012 and spray-painted slogans and splashed blood on a uranium storage building.
Dozens of people came to Knoxville from across the country for the Tuesday sentencing of the three: Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael Walli. However, it was postponed to Feb. 18 because of snow.
Oak Ridge Police Department Officer James Elkins said Spicer was among the protesters on Sunday evening before he crossed a street and walked toward the Y-12 guard shack. Spicer repeatedly failed to comply with orders given by him and ORPD Sgt. Roy Heinz, Elkins said in a warrant filed in Anderson County General Sessions Court. The officers told Spicer to stop as he approached the blue trespass line at the federal site, Elkins said.
“The roadway is painted with a clearly visible blue line as well as a large sign regarding the offense of trespass past this painted point,” Elkins said. “Spicer continued to fail to comply with our commands to stop and to not cross the threshold. After crossing the line, and standing at least two feet over the line, he stopped, put out his arms, and was taken into custody.”
Elkins said U.S. Department of Energy authorities were present at the time of the trespass, including Chief Chris Seals.
In a press release, the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, which organizes Sunday vigils at Y-12, said Spicer is a graduate student at Boston College’s Master of Divinity program. He remained jailed at the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton on Friday afternoon.
Before he was arrested, he had been listening to a reading of the testimony of former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who testified in federal court in Knoxville in April 2013 at a motions hearing for Boertje-Obed, Rice, and Walli, OREPA said. Among other things, Clark alleged the nuclear weapons work at Y-12 is unlawful, although the government this week said Clark has no credibility.
OREPA said Spicer was spurred by a statement by Clark in which the former attorney general compared the actions of Boertje-Obed, Rice, and Walli to the alleged crimes against humanity represented by the nuclear weapons being produced at Y-12. Clark testified that the harm done by the trio when they poured blood and painted messages on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where most of the nation’s bomb-grade uranium is stored, is less than the harm that would be caused by nuclear weapons, OREPA said.
The organization said it has had the Sunday evening vigils at Y-12 for more than 14 years, but this was the first intentional act of civil disobedience at one of those vigils.
“So this took us be surprise,” OREPA coordinator Ralph Hutchison said. “But it is not inconsistent with the spirit of the vigils—as long as the bomb plant continues to build weapons of mass destruction, we are required to stand to say, ‘No.’”