No nukes: Asheville resident explains why she protested at Oak Ridge

Obstructing a roadway into the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant may seem like a strange pastime for a mother, grandmother, nurse and Asheville resident, but I have my reasons. The primary one is that nuclear weapons are a blight upon the earth and its people. The atomic bomb made in Oak Ridge, Tenn., was detonated over Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. The devastation from that blast lingers to this day. Nuclear weapons are immoral and illegal. To protest is an historical duty.

On July 5, 23 of us from all over the U.S. stood across the entrance of the bomb plant, were told to move by the police — we didn’t – and were [arrested]. We were politely stripped of our stuff, patted down, photographed, fingerprinted, questioned and held in a cell with a concrete bench and open toilet. The jail was full. Clare Hanrahan and Coleman Smith, from Asheville, were part of the vigil outside the jail.

Successful nonviolent direct action campaigns include those organized by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Their campaigns would not have been possible without community support. Community building promotes peaceful action for the common good. It is a powerful form of direct action in itself. My local communities include Peacetown Asheville, the Kenilworth neighborhood and Transition Asheville.

My sentence could have been a hefty fine and several days in jail, but when I pled guilty in court, I received a $25 fine, court costs and a 30-day suspended sentence. I was lucky. There were 13 others who were arrested on felony trespassing charges and they could receive up to one year in jail and a $100,000 fine.

On my court day, a counter-protester, charged with disturbing the peace at our action, was in court also. His friend was running on the Patriot Party ticket and Americanism, which presumably supports nuclear weapons production in Oak Ridge. I am an American and a patriot too, but it seems the country I love is headed in the wrong direction. In April 2010, the Obama administration’s long-awaited Nuclear Posture Review showed no significant departures from previous U.S. nuclear doctrine. Furthermore, the administration began championing a 10-year, $180 billion plan to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, even as the New START Treaty was successfully negotiated with Russia.

We can no longer afford the terrible environmental, economic, social and moral costs of producing nuclear weaponry. That’s why I stood in the road.

— Judith Hallock

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One thought on “No nukes: Asheville resident explains why she protested at Oak Ridge

  1. normanplombe

    While I sincerely respect her patriotism, dedication to cause, and courage of conviction demonstrated by facing the shame and inconvenience of arrest and prosecution (in a huge constitutional compromise, considering the supposed right to assemble and speak), Judith’s reluctance to accept the reality of the nuclear dynamic is childishly naive. I might respectfully add that driving an air-conditioned-cum-bumper-sticker-clad Subaru to eventually arrive in an equally air-conditioned holding cell in East Tennessee doesn’t EXACTLY rival the sacrifice of MLK/Ghandi’s ilk. I’m certain many if not most of us would love to Barbra Eden-blink atomic fission-fusion right out of existence, but surely as the sun shines above (heady simile, eh?), it’s a genie that is NOT going back into the bottle.

    What SHOULD be of general concern is the way relatively exclusive development and possession of nuclear arms has allowed our supposedly peace-loving America to evolve into a cowardly, subtly imperialist aggressor nation. Ever notice how (even with our inconceivably powerful military machine and equally potent belief that ‘we’re right, dammit!’) we have only had organized armed conflict with entities that DON’T have nuclear capability? We’re like Toby Keith running around pistol-whipping the likes of Jack White. “It’s the Amuhhhrican way!” (maybe I should have gone with Ted Nugent/Marilyn Manson…eh..).

    Nukes are to nations what guns are to citizens: As long as they exist (and, arguably unfortunately, they DO), legal restriction of their availability only serves to promote individual (and international) inequality as it pertains to the sadly ever-present potential for human violence.

    Allow me to further analogize (’cause I love to): I’d say florists are not high on the list of targets for armed robbery…but I’ll bet they edge out gun shops! In my Utopia, everyone is armed, and has the peaceful reciprocal respect for sovereignty that mutually-assured destruction counter-intuitively cultivates.

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