Tri-Valley CAREs Senior Advisor Marylia Kelley with Patricia Ellsberg at the gates of LLNL August 4, 2023

On the morning of Friday, August 4th, as thousands of employees drove past on their way into Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, scores of peace activists from throughout the Bay Area gathered at the Lab’s Westgate. This special event, marking the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a coalition of Northern California peace and justice groups that comprise the Livermore Conversion Project, featured a vigil at the Livermore Lab West Gate and a film tribute to our dear friend, former Pentagon planner, whistleblower, and fellow nuclear weapons abolitionist, Daniel Ellsberg, who passed away earlier this year.

In fact, the event opened with a circle in the street centered around Daniel’s wife Patricia, who described the group as “Dan’s tribe,” people willing to “put their bodies on the line for what they believe in.” In the center of the circle was a banner with a large picture of Daniel and Patricia lying hand in hand in the very same street at a previous event marking the bombings. Patricia noted that event as “one of the ninety times Dan was arrested protesting for what he believed in.” Following her words, activists placed flowers on the banner in memory of Dan.

The banner with flowers in the street at the LLNL West Gate August 4, 2023

With contemplative hearts, participants then grabbed banners and lined the sidewalks as the employees drove past. Folks gather at Livermore Lab to confront the horror of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and say “never again” to nuclear weapons and war. Participants stood with the Hibakusha and other victims of the atomic age to press for the global abolition of weapons of nuclear mass destruction.

We gather at Livermore Lab because it is one of two locations that designs every nuclear warhead and bomb in the U.S. stockpile. Livermore Lab is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration and more than 80% of its present budget is devoted to the development of new and modified nuclear weapons.

Dan Ellsberg spoke out forcefully against nuclear weapons at numerous August rallies at Livermore Lab. He had planned to be with us this year. Thus, it is fitting to honor him at the gates of Livermore Lab. For background, Dan is best known as the whistleblower who released “The Pentagon Papers” to hasten an end to the war in Vietnam. He was an analyst at RAND Corp. and a consultant to the Defense Dept. Dan’s acclaimed autobiography is titled, “Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.” As Dan spoke of at previous events, nuclear weapons pose an existential threat to life. Twenty-first century arms-racing endangers us all.

After holding banners in silent vigil at Lab’s Westgate, activists sat on the lawn together to watch the special screening of the newly released film, “Dismantle the Doomsday Machine: Abolish Nuclear Weapons at Livermore Lab & Globally.”

The event was organized and sponsored by the organizations that make up the Livermore Conversion Project, including Asian Americans for Peace & JusticeBay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility, Ecumenical Peace Institute, Livermore Conversion ProjectNo Nukes Action CommitteeTri-Valley CAREs, Western States Legal Foundationand Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom.

The event was covered by radio, print and TV news media. See below for more…

From KPFA Radio Evening News

Peace activists rally at Livermore Laboratory for nuclear disarmament, ahead of 78th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima. Interviews with Scott Yundt and Marylia Kelley.

From ABC7 News

From NBC Bay Area

From People’s World