WALNUT CREEK -- This year's annual Good Friday sunrise service and anti-nuclear protest at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory's gates is starting two days early and spreading to central Contra Costa city streets.
The Peace Advocacy Committee of the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center hopes several dozen people will put on their walking shoes at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 27 -- and keep them marching on until 7 a.m. on Friday, March 29.
Of course, they're planning to rest and fellowship for the cause along the way. Hiking 12 miles from the peace and justice center's Walnut Creek location on day one, ambulatory anti-nuclear protesters will spend the night at Danville's Peace Lutheran Church. At 8:30 a.m. on March 28, the 16-mile trek to the Quality Inn in Livermore will bring walkers to within a short distance of the lab.
A nondenominational service sponsored by the Ecumenical Peace Institute on the 29th will protest the production and proliferation of nuclear weapons and call for the lab's conversion to all peaceful purposes.
And leading the charge will be 82-year-old Bob Hanson of Rossmoor, a retired San Diego State professor of recreation administration and a 30-year opponent of nuclear buildup.
"During the Vietnam War, I was convinced we were making an enormous mistake," he said, in an interview two weeks before the "Peace Center to War Center Walk."
But Hanson was raising a family in the 1960s and 70s and too busy to act on his beliefs. For the past six years, he's joined the annual Livermore action that draws anywhere from 70 to several hundred people. In 2011, he was arrested when he decided "it was time to make a point" and crossed the line a guard had said was "going too far."
"They put us in pens, then had us sign something saying we'd appear in court, but they never called me," he recalled.
This time, he and the committee want to "lead the United States to take steps toward peace and stop being the bully on the block."
On the two-day walk, protesters will beat on drums and carry signs reading, "No Nukes are Good Nukes" and "Abolish Nuclear Weapons ... Now!"
"We want attention. We want to be where we're more visible," Hanson said. "The route includes Mt. Diablo Boulevard, Danville Boulevard and Camino Tassajara." The route will not, he said, include the more direct but more hidden Iron Horse Trail.
At press time, Hanson said 12 people were signed up and that anyone can join for any portion of the walk, even if it's only 100 yards.
"They just need to bring their own signs," he said.
Asked why he was walking instead of driving on Friday morning to the gate as he has done in the past, Hanson said terrorism is the boogeyman in today's world, but nuclear weapons are an ineffective weapon in the war on terror.
"Most people agree that nuclear weapons should never be used," Hanson said. "We should stop trying to refine and improve them. If we did, we wouldn't need all those scientists at the lab."
WHEN: Begins at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 27
WHERE: Starts at Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center, 55 Eckley Lane in Walnut Creek
INFORMATION: Bob Hanson, 925-944-3366 or firstname.lastname@example.org.