Sr. Carol Gilbert is to be sentenced on September 16 at 9:30 AM, and Sr. Ardeth
Published on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 by CommonDreams.org
Anti-Nuclear Activist, Bonnie Urfer, Fights Crime in Sentencing Statement
by John LaForge
Bonnie Urfer, 59, of Luck, Wis., is being sentenced in federal court
ever since her May 11 trespassing conviction. A long-time nuclear
weapons resister and nonviolence trainer, she’s spent most of the last
four months in a private, for-profit jail in southeast
After working for Nukewatch for 25 years, Bonnie’s learned something
about nuclear weapons and she’s done more than four years in jail for
peacefully resisting them. She joined 12 others in walking onto the
property of the Y12 nuclear weapons fabrication complex in
she could get a year in prison.
A gifted graphic artist, Bonnie always says, “I are not a writer.” But
her sentencing statement, written for presiding Magistrate Bruce
Guyton is worth repeating. She titled it, “So Many Crimes, So Little
“To the Court: One of the most unpleasant things in life is to go to
jail. But because they are places with some of the worst human rights
violations in one of the most unjust systems, it is important that
people know what happens in them. We need people in jails who have a
voice, and people who know to tell the truth.
“In the past 126 days I have been booked into three different jails.
The hardest part of the experience is being just one person in the
midst of so much systematic crime.
“I have a decision to make.
“Do I refocus and put my energy into exposing the on-going crime of
medical negligence in these jails? Do I begin a campaign to highlight
the illegal starvation diet in the
one has been arrested? Do I join the effort to condemn the practice of
overcharging mostly dirt poor inmates for phone calls, and commissary,
so that corporations and counties receive greater kickbacks? Should I
add my voice to those in this courthouse who show up protesting unjust
sentences for nonviolent conspiracy charges? Or should I spend all of
my time researching how many prosecutors, judges, attorneys, court
clerks and law enforcement personnel who hold stock in the private
prison industry, commissary companies, phone providers or medical
contractors in these human warehouses? I see so many literal and moral
crimes, and I’m just one person.
“My final answer is none of the above. I will continue to resist the
ultimate crime of nuclear weapons and their production here and around
“I heartily disagree with this court that Y12’s production of nuclear
bombs does not equate to imminent nuclear war. I can tell you about
the women I met in the jails who lost family members from cancer after
exposure to radiation while working at Y12. The government pays
$150,000 to those with cancer or to their family after a death, if
they can prove Y12’s liability. Thousands of people are dead or dying
from weapons production. How many deaths does it take to convince the
courts that Y12 is killing its own in a nuclear war? How many does it
take to name it a crime? In my mind — just one.
“I have just one life and there is so much to do.
“It doesn’t matter what my sentence is. If I am returned to jail, I’ll
expose more crimes. If I am set free, I’ll expose more crimes.
“Now, it is your decision.” — Bonnie Urfer, Ocilla, Grorgia
John LaForge is on the Nukewatch staff and edits its Quarterly
Sept. 14, 2011
Contact: John LaForge
Anti-nuclear Activist Sentenced to Eight Months for Misdemeanor Trespass
long-time staff member of the nonprofit nuclear watchdog group
Nukewatch, was sentenced by the federal court here today to a total of
eight months incarceration. Urfer has been in jail since May 11 and
will now serve another four months.
Presiding Magistrate Judge Bruce Guyton had Urfer incarcerated May 11,
2011, immediately following a jury trial involving 12 activists, all
of whom were convicted of trespass for a sit-down protest that took
place July 5, 2010 at the Y12 nuclear weapons complex in
The government prosecutor made no recommendation as to the sentence at
today’s 1:00 p.m. (ET) hearing, beyond noting that Ms Urfer has
already served four months incarceration. Earlier in the week, two
co-defendants, Bill Bichsel, 83, of
“time served,” respectively.
Magistrate Guyton noted that the federal probation department had
earlier recommended that a sentence of between two and eight months.
Guyton also referred to a list of what he said were of Urfer’s 50
prior convictions and that “The only way to prevent her more-or-less
routine is to separate her from the community.” Guyton neglected to
mention that all of Urfer’s prior arrests for nonviolent protests
against nuclear power or weapons.
In a statement to the court before the judge ruled, Urfer described
the production of nuclear weapons as a crime, and described many of
the rights violations to which she was an eye witness in the Blount
County jail, in
on a contract basis --where she and six co-defendants have been held
for the last three months.
"If I am returned to jail I will continue to expose crimes there, and
if I am released I continue to expose the crime of nuclear weapons.”