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Hundreds Protest at Livermore Lab

Peace Activists Organize at Least 1,200 People to
Oppose Bush's Nuclear Weapons Policy

The TriValley Herald (California) JOE GASPAR & THORALF SCHWANITZ 11aug03

[Daily Californian and SF Chronicle articles below]

LIVERMORE—More than 1,200 people opposed to President Bush's nuclear weapons policy held a rally and peaceful demonstration at William Paine Park and the Lawrence Livermore Lab on Sunday afternoon.

The rally—emceed by Miguel Molina of KPFA r    adio of Berkeley—featured dozens of guest speakers, including David Seaborg, Marylia Kelley of Tri-Valley Cares and William Underbaggage <IndigenousNationsNetwork@lakota.cc> , an American Indian peace activist.

The demonstration was billed as the biggest such event in a decade, and organizers said at least 1,200 protestors took part.

"I have kids that are afraid to grow up," Molina said. "They ask me, 'What will happen if nuclear bombs go off,' and that's troubling to me as a parent."

Seaborg, son of Nobel-prize- winning scientist Glenn Seaborg, said he feels tied to nuclear issues more than most people. The younger Seaborg is the president and co-founder of the Children of the Manhattan Project, an anti-nuclear weapons organization.

"It's more in my consciousness, being raised by my father," Seaborg said. "I feel especially responsible because of my parentage."

He said he was delighted to see so many people at the rally.

"I'm very heartened to see these people come out and show the support that they did," Seaborg said. "At the same time, I'd like to see greater and greater numbers. I would like it to be more and more in the consciousness of the people. We need an awakening of this."

A handful of organizations, including Veterans for Peace, Black Voices for Peace and Tri-Valley CAREs—attended the rally and demonstration, passing out leaflets and petitions and speaking to the crowd about their cause.

Members of the Solano Peace and Justice Coalition showed up to support the cause.

"Our group feels that the militarism toward the world is not the way to peace," said John Williams, who attended the rally with fellow members Dona Rose and Anita Linker. "We hope for a peaceful solution and a peaceful approach instead of wanton military action."

After the two-hour rally, the group marched from the park across Vasco Road to various sites around the lab to hold various faith-based rituals. At one site, Shafi Refai, the president of United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance, recited short Muslim prayers before attendees joined hands symbolically with paper hand cutouts tied together to circle the lab.

Paper cutouts in the shape of hands and tied together by ribbon, represented people who supported the demonstration but were unable to attend it.

The ceremony commemorated the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 58 years ago and voiced opposition to new U.S. policies on nuclear weapons.

However, many slogans ranging from criticism of the war in Iraq to warnings of endangered civil liberties appeared on posters and buttons.

Kelly Campbell of September 11 Families for a Peaceful Tomorrow sent out a clear message.

"Our grief is not a cry for war," she told the crowd about a meeting of families who lost relatives in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and survivors of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Vietnam Veteran Brian Wilson described his experiences in that war a "wake-up call." Wilson has since devoted his work to the peace movement. Wilson called for "a new world based on sustainability and love."

Marylia Kelly of Tri-Valley CAREs mentioned the 20th anniversary of their organization. She alerted the crowd to what will be discussed in Washington, D.C. this fall, funding for so-called "mini-nukes" that will be on the U.S. Congress' agenda after its August recess. Legislators there will have to decide over the development of "robust nuclear earth penetrators."

Dan Meyer, 71, and his wife Ilse, 62, of Fremont said that they don't want to see the horror of World War II repeated.

"We have seen the destruction in Germany and especially in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That conflict has taken war to a new level," Ilse Meyer said.

Meyer was born in Luebeck, Germany, in 1941.

"I had to spent a lot of time during my early childhood in bomb shelters. War means death and destruction for the civilian populations. We can't just accept that as a circumstance of armed conflict."

Holding up signs saying "Blessed are the peacemakers" and "I too weep for my country's aggression," Dan and Ilse Meyer said their Christian faith makes them activists against war. Ilse Meyer calls nuclear weapons "the epitome of science gone mad."

Yoshiko Wada, 59, came to the protest from Berkeley and said she saw hypocrisy in U.S. policies.

"How can we fight wars because of weapons of mass destruction, when we develop them right here?" Wada said. "Nuclear weapons are not for defense, they are a plain offensive. A lot of money could better be spent to fight against hunger and poverty in the world."

Liza Pengelly of California Peace Action was satisfied with Sunday's event, saying that her organization, which helped to set up the protest, was pleased with the diversity of the participants.

"But there definitely need to be more younger people," Tara Spalty of California Peace Action added.

Demonstrators Swarm Livermore Lab in Largest Protest in Two Decades

AMARPREET DHALIWAL / Daily Californian 12aug03

More than 1,000 demonstrators gathered at UC-managed Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Sunday in the largest protest at the lab since the Cold War.

Some 1,200 protesters demonstrated against the lab's weapons research and the Bush administration's global policies.

The protesters were demonstrating primarily against the lab's alleged development of a new arsenal of weapons, said Nathan Britton, a member of California Peace Action, which helped organize the event.

Specifically, protesters denounced the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator program, which demonstrators said could lead to equipping existing nuclear weapons with technology that will allow them to reach targets buried deep within the earth.

Britton also said the protests called attention to the development of smaller tactical nuclear weapons.

"This will blur the distinction between conventional and nuclear war," Britton said.

Demonstrators called for such programs' funding to be redirected from weapons research.

Despite the demonstrators' calls, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is not currently developing any new weapons, said lab spokesperson David Schwoegler.

"We're not allowed to have nuclear weapons on site, never have and never will," he said. "The last nuclear weapon was assembled in Texas in 1992."

According to Schwoegler, next-generation tactical weapons are still an item of political debate and are not yet in a stage of development, including the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator program.

The lab received its last authorization and funding to develop new weapons between 1985 and 1987, he said.

"We are just here to maintain the existing stockpile and make sure that it is safe and reliable," Schwoegler said. "Nuclear weapons are most effective when they are not used. They are designed as a deterrent."

No violence was reported during the protest.

Three protesters were arrested on suspicion of civil disobedience, however. They were cited and quickly released, Schwoegler said.

Generally, there are two protests each year at the lab. Security costs run between $25,000 to $40,000 per protest, according to Schwoegler.

Sunday's protest cost the lab $40,000 in additional security, he said.

source: http://www.dailycal.org/article.asp?id=12348 15aug03

Nuclear Protest Blooms Again at Lab

1,000 in Livermore Demonstrate Against New Buster Bomb

DIANA WALSH / SF Chronicle 11aug03

It's been two decades since the largest anti-nuclear protests took place outside Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

On Sunday, protesters returned, and returned strong. Revitalized by anti- war demonstrations this spring, an estimated 1,000 people joined hands to protest the lab's role in producing new-generation nuclear warheads.

"Nuclear weapons didn't go away, they just went off the public radar," said Tara Dorabji, who helped organize the protest with a local organization that calls itself Tri-Valley CAREs.

Although conventional weapons research has continued at the lab since the '80s, the once-regular protests had subsided to a trickle, and instead of thousands strong -- and hundreds of arrests -- the demonstrations had been reduced to quiet vigils and sunrise ceremonies, attended by only a few die- hard peaceniks.

Dorabji credited the renewed interest in the anti-nuclear movement to the anti-war demonstrations that turned out thousands of protesters in the streets of San Francisco, Berkeley, Palo Alto and elsewhere in the country this spring.

"It is the 100th day of (U.S.) occupation (in Iraq), and they still haven't found weapons of mass destruction," she said, referring to the Bush administration's efforts to turn up large weapons in Iraq. "The people of the United States are realizing that those weapons are right here in the Bay Area."

Organizers had hoped to turn up enough protesters Sunday to link "hands around the lab." But they fell far short of that goal -- even with the help of a few thousand paper hands that had been gathered by peace activists in the weeks and days preceding the demonstration.

"We didn't make it, but it was a valiant effort," said Tim Pulta, who was one of nearly 100 military veterans who arrived on buses from San Francisco for the protest.

Demonstrations have been held at federal weapons labs -- including the Los Almos National Laboratory in New Mexico -- in other parts of the country over the last 10 days. Timing of the protests -- all scheduled between Aug. 1 and 11 -- is no accident. The two most devastating nuclear bombings occurred 58 years ago this month in Japan -- the first on Aug. 6 in Hiroshima, the second Aug. 9 in Nagasaki.

The post-Sept. 11 era has led the Department of Defense to conduct a whole new review of the nation's nuclear stockpile. With a recently overturned congressional ban on the development of "mini-nukes" and the Bush administration calling for "more usable" nuclear weapons, research and development of nuclear weapons is on the rise at Lawrence Livermore and other labs.

Marylia Kelley, an organizer of the rally, said protesters were concerned about the lab's development of Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator bomb, a nuclear buster bomb that burrows into the ground and destroys targets, leaving radioactive fallout. Kelley said she hoped the series of protests would be heard by Congress, which is set to decide on several nuclear funding issues when they return from their summer recess in September.

Sunday's protest cost the lab more than $40,000 in security costs, a lab spokesman said.

"We have a disagreement in tactics, not objectives," said lab spokesman David Schwoegler. "Both sides would like to see a world that is safe and never see the use of nuclear weapons again.

"Our position is that we believe in a strong, safe and reliable stockpile to give us nuclear deterance -- theirs is nuclear abandonment." But Joanne Haller, who was among a group of about three dozen protesters who arrived from Davis aboard environmentally friendly, bio-diesel buses, doesn't want her taxpayer money spent on weapons.

"I would prefer we put our resources, money and people into more positive research and into ways that we can sustain life on earth," said Haller, 62.

Thirteen-year-old Rane Stark was one of the few youngsters in the crowd made up of mostly graying baby boomers. Stark, who arrived with her mom and dad from Concord, said she thought maybe she'd spend the day at the mall shopping, but decided to take a stand for her future instead.

"At first I wasn't going to come, but then I remembered what it was all about," said Stark. "If kids don't care right now, then there's no hope at all."

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