This is part one of a two part story -
There was a mood of solidarity Wednesday morning when over 100 people came together outside of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to voice their opposition to nuclear weapons and a call to disarm.
People came from around the bay area, from north of Sacramento and some from out of state to attend the protest at the sprawling campus that is known for nuclear weapons projects. The reason for the protest today was Hiroshima Day, also known as the 69th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.
At a rally on a dirt lot on the side of the sprawling property speakers stood on the back of a flatbed truck and addressed the crowd. Director of Peace Operations at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Rick Wayman reminded the audience that money going into nuclear weapons could be spent elsewhere.
“Human needs are going unmet,” Wayman said. “We're pursuing things such as weapons of mass destruction.”
There were a handful of Japanese women wearing kimonos. Chizu Hamada was three years-old and lived in Tokyo when Hiroshima was bombed. The spokeswoman for No Nukes Action pointed out the irony of Japan with nuclear weapons.
“The US [sold] nuclear power plants to Japan and Japan regrettably bought them,” Hamada said. “Imagine that, Japan a country that suffered so much from atomic bomb decided that nuclear power was a good choice.
“[The] Japanese government was stupid and vain. The Japanese government wanted to own the Japanese technology and weapons. Since then, 54 nuclear power plants have sprouted like a mushroom [in Japan].”
Informing the crowd that besides the nuclear weapons on site there is also contaminated soil that needs to be dealt with was Scott Yundt.
“The contaminated ground water at Livermore currently is not scheduled to be totally cleaned up for 70 more years,” Yundt said. “It can really use more funding, we advocate for that but they'd rather spend that money on weapons.”
The staff attorney at the Livermore nonproliferation group Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) told the crowd that “The plan is not just to refurbish weapons in the stockpile but we're also building a whole new generation of submarines to deliver those weapons, a whole new generation of bombers to deliver those weapons, a whole new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles to deliver those weapons. Some of these things that we're building aren't going to be ready for another 20 years. “
After the hour-long rally, the hundred-strong crowd walk to the main gate of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to protest.
Standing at a good distance from the crowd was Don Johnston, spokesman for the lab who answered questions from the media. He said that Hiroshima Day wasn't the only time they get protests.
“Principally [we have protests] twice a year,” Johnston said. “There's Good Friday and Hiroshima Day.”
After all of the protesters arrived from the field, some chose to do what they do each year at the protest, get arrested. Four to five protesters walked to the entrance to the gate and face the six guards that looked like they were soldiers.
End of part one