- Livermore

Five hundred people rallied at a Livermore, California elementary school on August 8 for a "Books Not Bombs" festival, and later marched to the gates of Livermore National Laboratory.

Marylia Kelly of Tri-Valley CARES told the crowd "Here in Livermore, where my child received his education, we are now closing schools because, we are told, there is no funding to keep them open. Yet at the same time we see the budget for new nuclear weapons development at Livermore Lab skyrocket. The government wants to give us smart bombs and dumb kids."

A peace camp was established nearby for the night. Early on the morning of August 9, Nagasaki Day, 60 people marched to the Lab's west gate, which some blockaded. Twenty-three were arrested for trespass, cited and released.

Religious and secular opponents engage in civil disobedience nearly every year on Good Friday and around the anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In August, 2003, after a spring and summer of anti-war arrests around central California, more than 1,000 people marched as a human chain of "Hands Around the Lab," but no arrests were reported.

On Good Friday, April 18, 2003, 300 people engaged in ritual protest, and listened to Father Bill O'Donnell, who grew up in Livermore and had recently served six months in prison for trespass at the School of the Americas, deliver a keynote speech. He told the group their very presence would be the conversation of many a Livermore Lab employee that day, creating an internal dialogue of the morality of the nuclear weapons work happening there. Seventy-three people were arrested at the gate, and cited but not prosecuted.

This year, the April 9 Good Friday Action was dedicated to Fr. O'Donnell, who died suddenly at his desk last December, and several other faith-based activists who have died recently. Among several hundred participants, 61 were arrested at the gate.

[Editor's note: In the mid-1980's, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory east of Oakland, California, was the site of thousands of arrests for nuclear disarmament. Direct Action, a historical novel by Luke Hauser (GroundWork, 2003, 767 pp.) tells the story of this era, an important crucible for many experiments in consensus and affinity group-based organizing for nonviolent direct action. The legacy of this experience can be seen in many contemporary direct action movements. Book available at www.directaction.org]

For more information, contact Tri-Valley CAREs, 2582 Old First St., Livermore, CA 94551, (925)443-7148.

The Nuclear Resister
October 2004