Y-12 Protest

By: Jason Tighe
By: Jason Tighe

Oak Ridge (WVLT) -- August 5th means 62 years have past since the Manhattan Project came to fruition and helped end World War Two.

Oak Ridge's Y-12 played a major role.

However, decades since have seen the creation even more nuclear weapons, prompting protesters to take their case directly to Y-12's front gates.

The group of protesters used their voices to chant.

It's a familiar and solemn cry, underlined with a monotone drum beat summoning those to the cause.

"The heart and strength of it," said Sister Denise Laffan, "These are the people who really keep steady with the issue."

The yearly pilgrimage joins travelers from throughout the country.

Through the streets of Oak Ridge, they denounce nuclear weapons.

They trek among the traffic with a purpose.

"I'm here on a personal nature," said Bill Hicey who traveled all the way from Michigan for the protest. "I'm here to remind myself that non-violence is the only way forward to peace in the world and to resolving our disputes."

"These bomb plants have got to close," said Mark Webb, who came down from Cincinnati, "they're destroying the world."

Powerful statements condemning the Y-12 plant, which plays a major role in our country's nuclear weapons program.

Footsteps draw closer to the site where uranium was enriched six decades ago.

That decisive act led to the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6 1945, but it also helped end a World War.

"Nuclear weapons exist because of the fearfulness of our society," said Sister Laffan, "overcoming that fear is a day by day practice."

"As Martin Luther King said, the arch of justice is long but it bends towards peace," said Hicey.

It's a struggle the faithful carry, never quite sure of the full impact of their persistence, but the intense, business like gazes from law enforcement mean someone is listening.

"The fact that they close the gate and they meet us with police, shows that they recognize our presence," said one of the protesters.

By the strength of solidarity, through civil disobedience, the protesters hope to break what they call a chain of violence, even if it means giving up some of their freedom.

For them, the fight continues, even if some of the warriors are no longer alive to see it.

"There are lots of people who have been part of this journey who are no longer with us in this life," said Webb, "but that didn't make their resolve any less strong."

Oak Ridge police say they arrested five people during the protest on charges of obstructing a highway

One was released with a citation, the four others were taken to the Anderson County Jail.


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