Sister Megan Rice is an 83-year-old Catholic nun who will likely be spending the rest of her life in prison.
Her and two other peace activists were protesting a nuclear power plant when they took it a little further than just holding signs. The three are accused of breaking into the Oak Ridge nuclear facility in Tennessee. According to the court, they illegally broke into the primary U.S. storehouse for bomb-grade uranium.
The activists, Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed are also being accused of sabotage for damage they caused when they broke into the facility, cutting through fences and painting slogans on the walls before splattering blood and damaging a wall with hammers.
The government is recommending sentences of approximately six to nine years each, and they also want restitution for damages in the amount of almost $53,000.
The trio is asking for leniency because of the sensitivity of the issue. They have explained that their actions at the Y-12 National Security Complex were symbolic and meant to draw attention to America’s stockpile of nuclear weapons, which they call immoral and illegal.
The act was also intended to show the world how easily the stockpile was accessed by the trio and how little security is in place.
Their defense attorney, Bill Quigley said, “These people have been committed peace and justice advocates for decades.” Previous requests for leniency were declined, keeping the three in jail while the trial progressed.
Letters of support are flowing in and the case is drawing a lot of attention, mostly asking for mercy for the three, but the support also has to do with the fact that Sister Rice will be turning 84 years old on Jan 28th, ironically the day of her sentencing.
The judge has been presented with thousands of support letters from around the world, which Quigley called the greatest show of support he has seen in his two decades of working with protesters.
“I think that is mostly because of Sister Rice,” Quigley said. “She’s very well loved and has lots of people praying for her and supporting her.”
He noted that there is no minimum sentence. The activists have been in prison since they were convicted in May, and it is possible that they could be sentenced to time served.
Sister Katharine Holmstrom, a nun in London, is one of the letters that was presented to the court, where she pleaded,
“Your court faces a great challenge – making a careful distinction between persons who act in clear conscience, guided by a moral vision, and others whose actions may be self-serving or maleficent in nature.”
All three will find out their fates on Tuesday (Jan. 28) when the judge comes back with his sentencing in the case.
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