Good Friday March for Peace

Entry from Good Friday (late because "life" gets in the way sometimes). I went to the Livermore Weapons Lab at 6:30am Friday morning for the first time. There was to be a peaceful gathering for prayer, music, Stations of the Cross, and acts of civil disobedience. I have to admit I wasn't entirely sure what that last thing would entail! It was dark and cold and I found myself thinking "am I crazy, what am I doing here?" There was only one guy there when I arrived at the side of Patterson Pass Road outside the property and not knowing what to expect, I greeted him but eyed him cautiously. Soon others came filled with yawns, laughter, and a sense of purpose and I began to settle in. A guard appeared from the lab and I thought, 'oh here it comes, we're trespassing or something' but he just asked if we were doing okay and if we needed anything...and then he left! He was so pleasant I was surprised he didn't hand out coffee and donuts. By daylight, the music equipment was set up and we




were treated to music by Betsy Rose, an update on TriValley Cares ://www.trivalleycares.org/ and I learned about the pollution in the very ground I was standing on as a result of the activities at the lab. Then Pierre Labossiere spoke on the happenings in Haiti.

Following prayer we processed in small groups along the perimeter of the property to visit 6 Stations of the Cross, each with a message directed towards ending nuclear proliferation, war and the poverty largely brought about by the world's involvement in various global power struggles.


The Stations were very reminiscent of the Maryknoll Stations, an image of someone without a voice struggling to survive, waiting for justice, showing us the modern face of Christ. The theme for this Good Friday was Haiti and why the country is so poor. Well, the reasons for that are beyond the scope of this blog but you can learn more at: http://www.haitiaction.net/


Approaching the sixth Station, I could see the familiar flashing lights of a couple of police cars in the near distance and realized there would be more to the morning...probably the civil disobedience. Several people held signs, and banners declaring a call for peace. Women much older than myself bravely weathering the cold, damp wind to be the voice for those who have none.
Pax Christi members were also there, also a woman with a dog in a tiny hot pink sweater (the dog, not the woman!) and several were singing and praying. I had heard talk of being arrested from several people gathered at the staging point and when I approached the gate I wondered what in the world these peaceful looking people would actually have to do to get in trouble with the law. Apparently, it doesn't take more than just standing toe to toe with the police in their riot gear in front of the entrace to the lab.

One gentleman sat down inches from the police line and others held a white sheet over his head which was handy as it soon began to rain. A photographer took photos and a young reporter from a local newspaper was interviewing the crowd standing on the sidewalk on either side of the entrance driveway. I learned those were the people not up to being arrested.


A loud voice from the "front line" began to recite a California Penal Code. Obviously, the police were not going to just stand there all day and watch people sing and pray. After the officer's recital, he explained that those facing him were in violation of said Code and subject to arrest. Still, nothing happened...more praying...more singing...more standing around, and more raindrops. Then another recital of the Code and a couple of people were led away to one of two large RV/busses to be processed. This repeated for at least 45 min. The first few arrested were quickly replaced in the line by others. I figured out that because I was on the sidewalk by this time, I was in no danger of being arrested and I had mixed feelings about that. Should I walk up there and replace someone in the line? What if I did? Would I really go to jail? Would I be released by the end of the day? I had to be at Maryknoll for Stations that evening! I was torn to be sure...I fought an urge to walk up to the front line and I fought an urge to stay safely on the sidewalk. What does my faith mean in the real world? What is God calling me to do and to be? I stayed on the sidewalk, but the chance to be a witness and the struggle that ensued has given me a lot to think about. I never imagined when I became a Catholic in 2002 that this is what I would struggle with someday. Next year, I may just walk up to that line and challenge the system...risk some of my friends calling me "unpatriotic" and a hater of my own country because I believe in Christ's message of peace. I know this world can be a better place for everyone, and am learning that the price is high...but I can't think of any other alternative. I guess that really is the true Lenten and Easter message, lived out by our brother Jesus and by those who have the courage to step up and be the voices of Peace.
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