Blocking two gates of Livermore nuclear weapons lab, 45 activists arrested on anniversary of Nagasaki bombing

Daniel and Patricia Ellsberg participating in "die in" in the road in front of the Livermore Lab West Gate, awaiting arrest. Photo by Heather Davison.

Daniel and Patricia Ellsberg participating in “die in” in the road in front of the Livermore Lab West Gate, awaiting arrest. Photo by Heather Davison.

Standing with Survivors of the Bomb in Livermore

from Tri-Valley Cares

by Marylia Kelley

Approximately 200 anti-nuclear activists gathered outside the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab on August 9 to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki – and to stand with survivors of nuclear weapons from Hiroshima to the Marshall Islands.

Keynote speakers included famed whistleblower and nuclear weapons analyst, Daniel Ellsberg, atomic-bomb survivor, Nobuaki Hanaoka, and Executive Director of Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, John Burroughs. Tara Dorabji with Tri-Valley CAREs gave the group a sense of place with her description of current nuclear weapons work at Livemore Lab, while Chizu Hamada drew links between the nuclear bomb and nuclear power.

The rally was followed by a march to the Livermore Lab main gate where peace advocates then staged a “die in” and had their bodies chalked on the roadway to symbolize the victims vaporized in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Forty-five peaceful protesters, including Ellsberg, chose to risk arrest for blocking the roadway at both the West and Main East Ave. gates to the Lab.

Margaret Lowry wrote: “Today I protested at the Lawrence Livermore Lab. Protesting the A bomb on my mother’s home in Nagasaki. She was 11 years old. As always, I get emotional when I think of what happened that day. I was compelled to share some of her experience. I participated in the symbolic meaning of giving water to the brave protesters that laid out in the sun today. We ask forgiveness of all the beings begging for water that day. There was no water to ease their suffering.”


Marcus and Chelsea. Photo by Lanier

Marcus and Chelsea. Photo by Lanier

from Earth Abides Catholic Worker Farm

Faith-Based Activists Arrested with others at Nuclear Weapons Lab on Nagasaki Day


Two Catholic Worker Farm members joined five Pacific Life Community demonstrators and two CODE-PINK activists at the southern gate of Livermore’s nuclear weapons laboratory to help shut down the entrance to all traffic. This semi-spontaneous blockade helped support the simultaneous ritual die-in and blockade at the main entrance seven blocks north on Vasco Rd. at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). These nine nonviolent demonstrators were arrested along with several dozen other peaceful folks who were involved with the main entrance blockade between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to honor the victims of the Nagasaki nuclear blast of 1945. A total of 180 people attended the demonstration, and 45 were arrested. Jesuit priest Stephen Kelly didn’t sign a citation and was held in jail for several days before being released on August 11 with a September 6 court date. The other 44 other people arrested, including Franciscan priest Louis Vitale and whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, will be arraigned on September 6.

TriValleyCares and others hosted the August 9th (Nagasaki Day) demonstration, and the Catholic Worker Farm will again host the September 26th vigil. The Catholic Worker Farm hopes to call attention to and peacefully stop Livermore’s nuclear boondoggle through spiritual power. As part of the repeated public demonstrations during these two months, at least four Californians were fasting for peace (either on-site at LLNL or in other locations). Other prayer-activists in Europe and Africa simultaneously conducted their public events from Hiroshima Day to Nagasaki Day at this time of early August.

The peaceful demonstrations at the two western entrances to LLNL were assisted by LLNL security personnel and Livermore police, so that no injuries would be likely. Traffic was diverted to two other LLNL gates on the East side of the lab (a two-mile drive) while LLNL security locked the gates behind the prayer activists at the south-western entrance who sang, “Peace, Salaam, Shalom”. Next month’s prayer-action at the East Gate on September 26 is an opportunity for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) workers to dialog with prayer-activists. September’s nonviolent demonstration for justice near the Visitor Center on Greenville Rd will be a small group of less than twelve participants.

September’s monthly picket against California’s nuclear weapons program is held on the UN-designated date to abolish nuclear weapons. The nuclear bomb explosions conducted by the USA on that date are listed below. All of the Catholic Worker vigils at LLNL aim for the peaceful end of LLNL’s plutonium experiments within the National Ignition Facility (NIF). Marcus Page-Collonge, one of the peace-fasters this past week is a farmer from Calaveras County, who said, “Our region was hit hard 11 months ago by wildfire. That kind of unthinkable destruction of organisms, community life and psyche is overwhelmingly dwarfed by Livermore’s intend to make weapons of mass destruction usable. Prayer and fasting will help bring peace & justice to the USA through stopping this insanely violent institution.”

Prayer-activists gather at LLNL this Summer on July 16th, August 6th, 7th, 9th, and September 26th because of historical significance, moral imperative, and because ongoing radioactive pollution has been documented throughout Livermore in the past 3 decades. The first nuclear bomb was code-named Trinity (exploded July 16, 1945), the second and third were Little Boy and Fat Man (used in actual nuclear warfare against Japan in August 1945). September 26th is the anniversary date for subsequent nuclear detonations, code-named Valencia, Delphinium, Stanyan, Trumbull & Sheepshead, attacking the environment with radiation in 1958, 1972, 1974, and 1979 respectively.


Photo of Karen Topakian by Heather Davison

Photo of Karen Topakian by Heather Davison

from Greenpeace

Remembering Our Nuclear Weapons Legacy

by Karen Topakian

As I stood under the blazing August sun with my arms handcuffed behind my back, my eyes began to well up. Not from the heat or the pinching pain in my wrist, but from the enormity of the problem before us: the world’s 15,000 nuclear weapons.

It was August 9, 2016, the 71st anniversary of the United States’ nuclear bombing of Nagasaki, Japan. Once again, I had traveled 50 miles to my local nuclear weapons design headquarters at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to risk arrest.

Before the Livermore police handcuffed me, I — and scores of other people — had been lying face down in the street as if felled by a nuclear explosion, blocking the gate to the Lab. Men, women, and children outlined our bodies in chalk to mimic the shadows left on the streets of Nagasaki after that deadly bomb erupted. Those shadows formed in Japan when incinerated human flesh permanently melted into the concrete.

My experience barely mirrored those who were burned, maimed, or died in 1945. But nonetheless, I laid on the pavement for two hours to remember their sacrifice. I gave up my freedom to say ‘no.’ I won’t forget those who died or suffered from the development, testing, and use of nuclear weapons.

Especially when experts at Western States Legal Foundation and Tri-Valley CARES tell us that the United States plans to spend $1 trillion in the next 30 years to modernize its nuclear bombs and warheads, the submarines, missiles and bombers needed to deliver them, and the infrastructure to sustain the nuclear enterprise indefinitely.

Especially when these same experts report that scientists at the Lab are modifying a new warhead for a new long-range standoff weapon capable of launching a nuclear sneak attack.

Eliminating the world’s nuclear arsenal — which threatens us all and which one presidential candidate suggests he won’t refuse to use — demands global action.

For decades, people from around the world have signed petitions, filed lawsuits, written articles, drafted legislation, and donated money and time to end the nuclear arms race. At Greenpeace, we have done all of this and have used non-violent direct action to stop the design, development, testing and use of nuclear weapons.

Today, I joined that group with my body, heart and soul.

Karen Topakian is the Greenpeace Inc. Board Chair. She started her career at Greenpeace in San Francisco in 1987, when she joined the newly created Nuclear Free Seas campaign.


nonukes520from People’s World

Why not a “no first use” for nuclear weapons?

by Cathy Deppe

August 26, 2016

LIVERMORE, Calif. – Last August was the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Japan. As members of the international peace group Global Network, Alex and I were fortunate to participate in commemoration services in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A year later, on August 9th, we traveled a shorter distance to California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, to stand again with victims of nuclear war.

We were there to float another lantern downstream to honor the dead. We wanted to hear direct testimony from the hibakusha, those who survived. Rev. Hanaoka, now a retired Bay Area Methodist minister, was just a baby when the bomb exploded above his town, a child when he lost his mother and sister to radiation exposure, and a young man when his brother died at 39 of premature aging. In his testimony, he told us, “It would have been better to have died instantly.”

Daniel Ellsberg, peace activist and Pentagon Papers whistleblower, spoke about the “maniacal” nature of a U.S. foreign policy which refuses to publicly claim a “No First Use” policy for nuclear weapons. What is truly risky is not to guarantee a “no first use.” When the U.S. does declare this, there will be no need for nuclear weapons at all. As one U.S. presidential candidate has chillingly questioned, “If we aren’t going to use them, why do we even have them?” Ellsberg’s eloquent speech is available online at, with other recorded speeches and video from Livermore’s Tri-Valley Cares.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama has a golden opportunity to declare a “no first use” policy before he leaves office. He has been to Hiroshima. He knows our world will only be secure when nuclear weapons have been abolished. There are only five countries with nuclear bombs who have not pledged “no first use” and who continue to resist negotiations for the multilateral nuclear disarmament required by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968. Of those countries, the U.S. and Russia possess 90 percent of the total. Obama can still break the stalemate and earn that Nobel Prize! Some peace activists believe that he might be considering this.

Soon we marched to the western gate where a civil disobedience “die-in” shut it down with the arrests of 45 protesters, including Ellsberg. Scientists at this nuclear facility are busy developing new “tactical” nuclear weapons with “upgraded” features. Washington plans to spend an unimaginable sum of one trillion of our tax dollars over the next 30 years to this stockpile upgrade.

As our megaphone “air raid” siren sounded, we dropped to the pavement to simulate the instant deaths of those near ground zero. Activists used chalk to outline our bodies, leaving a reminder of the human shadows left behind after the nuclear explosion. We will never forget seeing evidence of this in Hiroshima, where human shadows were visibly burned into a river bridge walkway.

Leaving our shadows behind in front of the gate, we left Livermore. As we passed our rally site, we discovered a repurposed piece of the 1995 War Resisters League Enola Gay poster project we had donated to Tri-Valley Cares when we moved from San Jose to Los Angeles. We were again encouraged to continue the ongoing struggle for peace, for the redirection of our tax dollars, and for the total abolition of nuclear weapons.

Photo: Sam Kano with No Nukes Action Committee, Livermore National Lab rally | Cathy Deppe/PW