Memoirs of a Movement – Blockade at Diablo

Memoirs of a Movement by Mark Evanoff



“The cops surround us, scores of them, and
we sit and make statements, snack and sing. _
Wavy Gravy unzips his green jump suit to
reveal his Santa Clause outfit and whips on
his beard and hat. He tells the cops they
will get nothing in their stockings.”

-Sharon Sponge

While the Atomic Safety and Licensing Appeals Board deliberated on the seismic stability and security of Diablo Canyon, the Abalone Alliance made preparations for the People’s Blockade. Neither the media nor law enforcement knew what to expect.  Organizers offered no numbers, but speculated it would be larger than the 1978 civil disobedience action. The Abalone Alliance sponsored non-violence preparations throughout the state and recruited people to participate in the action. The California government took the organizing seriously and began their own blockade preparations some time in late 1980 or early 1981.

Officers working for California Attorney General George Deukmejian attempted to determine the number of people participating in the non-violence preparations by visiting all Abalone Alliance member groups. Seven state agencies, including the Governor’s Office, the Office of Emergency Services, the National Guard, and the Department of Forestry, as well as PG&E, met regularly to coordinate a response to the blockade.

The Abalone Alliance’s preparations and the state government’s preparations for the blockade stimulated media interest and convinced editors that the action would indeed draw thousands of people. The Federal Aviation Administration developed plans to airlift ten thousand law enforcement officials onto the site. News bureau chiefs assigned teams to cover the event, expecting it to be the biggest civil disobedience action in the history of the United States. The California Attorney General’s office suggested 60,000 blockaders may show up. The early commitment of news publications to cover the event convinced other reluctant editors to assign their staff to the story.

Television stations spent hundreds of thousands of dollars installing relay equipment around the San Luis Obispo hills to enable live coverage of the event. No news story since the Mount St. Helens eruptions had required such elaborate set-up. Media preparations for the blockade made the news. Hotel rooms filled, and trailers had to be brought in to house the media crews. Reporters moved into the community before the NRC issued the license. A rumor circulated that the plant could not be licensed A until after President Ronald Reagan ended his summer vacation at a ranch located forty miles south of the plant.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company employees kept busy training for the blockade.  Pinkerton guards practiced shooting at human silhouettes. PG&E News Bureau Press releases warned of rattle snakes slithering through the hills and the danger of hiking in the rough terrain. To control access to the site, PG&E created an elaborate system of press credentialing. Although hundreds of reporters planned to cover the event, only forty-eight persons a day could gain access to the site aboard a PG&E tour bus. As a service to reporters, PG&E converted its nuclear information center into a media I l center and installed typewriters and phones for the reporters.

Local groups throughout the state prepared for the action. The Blockade Collective, composed of representatives working on specific parts of the action, met weekly to coordinate activities and to iron out developing problems. The Guides ‘ Collective spent months mapping the hills around the plant and cut trails under the brush to enable affinity groups to hike to the reactor undetected. The Communications Collective devised a relay system incorporating walkie talkies, C.B. radios, telephones, signal flags, and road runners to hand deliver messages. This system enabled affinity groups hiking in the hills to remain in contact with the communications center.

The Blockade Collective devised an elaborate alert system to contact all persons who had taken non-violence preparations to come to San Luis Obispo once all legal means for stopping the plant’s licensing had been exhausted. After the Atomic Safety and Licensing Appeals Board approved the plant’s security plan, Raye Fleming would activate the alert from the Diablo Project Office. Abalone Alliance organizers wanted the blockade to be underway when the NRC Commissioners issued the low power test license.

On September 8th, 1981, the NRC notified the California National Guard that it planned to issue a decision the following day. That evening blockade organizers observed the National Guard and Highway Patrol drive into Camp San Luis Obispo, the National Guard base served as law enforcement headquarters for the blockade. Organizers knew t an NRC decision was imminent. Reporters, also tipped off to the decision crowded into the Diablo Project Office the following day to record Fleming receiving the official NRC announcement finding Diablo secure from sabotage. Fleming received the phone call and activated the alert system that asked everyone to come to San Luis Obispo.

Representatives of the Abalone Alliance held a press conference in San Francisco on September 10, announcing the blockade plans. Reporters repeatedly challenged the ability of organizers to keep the demonstration non-violent. “Media spokes,” the persons assigned to speak for the Alliance explained time and time again that everyone blockading had participated in non-violence preparations and that no previous Abalone Alliance actions had any problems with violence.

In San Luis Obispo, a support center, staffed around the clock, maintained records of each blockader and answered questions from worried parents and friends. The legal center coordinated the attorneys volunteering their services who helped the blockaders wend their way through the legal system. The media team staffed phones 24 hours a day to answer reporter’s questions.

Richard Robbins, a landowner with property near the Diablo site sympathized with the blockade, and donated his land for use as training center and camp site for blockade participants. Reporters dubbed the area “tent city” because of the hundreds of colorful tents pitched by blockaders. The Abalone Alliance called the site the CBT, the Camping Briefing and Training Area. Medical facilities, communications central, a non-violence preparations area, and a kitchen existed in the self-contained community. Photovoltaic cells powered the lighting and sound system for the camp. Blockaders used bicycles with trailers and platforms atop bicycle wheels to transport gear into the CBT.

Affinity groups camped with other affinity groups planning to blockade at a particular area. Options included the front gate at Avila Beach; two overland routes involving hiking in through the back-country; Wild Cheery Canyon; and landing by sea.  Representatives of the Guides Collective explained to blockaders what conditions to expect at the various locations.

Reporters toured the CBT twice a day, escorted by Media Spokes. Prior to the tours, reporters waited in the media pen, a fenced off enclosure intended to control journalists’ access to the camp. The Blockade Collective didn’t allow reporters to walk unaccompanied in the camp to allow participants to continue camp life without disturbance by the media. Some reporters resented the restrictions, and others thought it cute. No one had set a beginning time for the blockade. Only after all affinity groups reached consensus to begin the action, could it actually begin. Reporters didn’t like it when no one appeared to be in charge and no one knew how many people stayed at the CBT. Reporters beseeched the media spokes to tell them when the action would begin. Several threatened to go home if something didn’t happen soon. News teams had expected thousands of people to show up and shook their heads in disgust when the numbers didn’t arrive.

Eric Brazil, a reporter for Gannett News Service, remembered, “It took a while to adjust to not having the numbers we expected. It was like dressing for a party and no one shows. If I knew the number that would be arrested, I’d never had gone down.

“But after we found out what was going on, we got into the style and the mindset, and it became a much more interesting story. We had to shift gears because this was a different kind of demonstration.”

Early reporting focused on the counterculture living at the camp and the lack of numbers. But the attitudes changed as reporters got to know the media spokes and became familiar with the consensus process. The process became the news story, and reporters described how consensus worked. By Monday afternoon, five days after the alert began, affinity groups reached consensus to start the blockade the following day. Later that evening, affinity groups planning to hike to the plant through the back country left the CBT. Cars caravanned to the access points. The lead car of one caravan missed the turn to the secret site and everyone else followed the car and continued in the wrong direction. Only the unmarked police car managed to make the correct turn.

Sea blockaders left Morro Bay and Port San Luis Obispo early Tuesday morning for the voyage to the plant site. The Coast Guard set up a “safety zone” around the plant. If crossed, skippers faced a $50,000 fine, confiscation of their boats, and a five year jail sentence. Because of this risk, sea blockaders landed on the shore just outside of the safety zone and hiked to the plant site.

Reporters and media spokes assembled at the front gate at Avila Beach Tuesday morning and watched workers drive onto the site unobstructed at 7:00 a.m. Reporters grumbled about a media blockade. The first blockaders didn’t reach the front gate until 1:00 p.m. Affinity groups sat down on both sides of the front gate awaiting arrest. Legal observers remained outside the gate to note any instances of police abuse. Sharon Sponge, a member of the Mutant Sponges affinity group (named for the giant sponges growing off the Farrallon Islands, attributed to the radioactive waste l dumped there) remembered the day:

The cops surround us, scores of them, and we sit and make statements, b read poems, snack and sing. Wavy Gravy unzips his green jump suit to reveal his Santa Clause outfit and whips on his beard and hat. He tells the cops they will get nothing in their stockings.

I am in my sponge suit with giant clown glasses and a wind-propeller beanie. We look the cops in the eye and tell our reasons for being there. Many I of them smile as we joke with them, but straighten up as police TV cameras pan their way.

They lift us up and out of our circles one by one and book us, stripping us, of our jackets and backpacks. ‘Take that thing off,’ mutters the officer, disdainfully pursuing the sponge spores.1

The police took the Sponges and the other affinity groups to a holding pen next to the two Diablo reactors. Terry Lamhier continued the story. “As the hours wore on, and the temperatures dropped, we had to figure a way to keep warm. First the porta-potties were pushed together to block the wind. Then some of us started pushing a toilet back and forth across the compound to keep warm. Later we evolved a football game with a role of toilet paper. The Diablo ‘81 Toilet Bowl.” 2

Women eventually ended up at the California Men’s Colony. Sharon Sponge described the arrival. “It’s 2 a.m. when we arrive, we are issued a blanket, a towel, and a bag dinner — one orange, a cookie, milk, and two white bread sandwiches – one peanut butter and some perverse jelly, the other a slice of Velveeta cheese and bologna.

“Each time a busload of new people come in, we line up and make a clapping, singing bridge to welcome the new arrivals. Myth California, dressed in evening gown and crown, feeds each a sacramental bite of sweet roll.

“People try to wash their cloths to get rid of the poison oak. Gucci would be pleased with the tres chic variations on a towel and bandana. The yard on the adjoining gym is good and sunny and an increasing number of women opt to go nude.” 3

A large black man, sitting in an arm chair stood guard over the women in the exercise pen. Over at the men’s jail, Wavy Gravy emceed the “Tornado of Talent.” Blockaders who thought themselves possessing talent, performed in front of their fellow inmates. Wavy Gravy always wore a clown outfit to demonstrations. Years earlier, he had been badly beaten at a demonstration. At every demonstration thereafter, he wore a clown outfit, believing that no police office could ever beat-up a clown. 4

On the second day of the blockade, a spontaneous action by ltara Katherine O‘Connel, a member of the Mother Bear Brigade, successfully stopped thirteen buses from carrying PG&E workers onto the site. O’Connel, working as a support person, and not planning to blockade, decided to sit down in front of the buses as they sped toward the front gate. PG&E driver Joe Hect, wearing a shirt emblazoned with the slogan, “I ran the Diablo Blockade,” inched the bus forward up to O’Connel’s chin, while onlookers shouted. The caravan eventually turned around, and did not return for six hours.

Ginger Varney, reporting for the LA Weekly persuaded one PG&E worker to talk about the experience. “There’s a gal with guts,” he said. “And I’ll tell you something else. I don’t have much to say about the protestors. I’m getting paid whether I work or not. And I’m a member of a union. We’re always picketing plants and asking people not to go top their jobs so we can have our say. How am I supposed to say somebody else can’t do the same thing? They believe what they believe and I believe what I believe. They’ve got their right and I’ve got my right.” 4

Early on the morning of the third day, an overzealous member of the Highway Patrol sped to the front gate with the siren blaring. After jumping out of the car, he pointed a shot gun at demonstrators waiting outside the front gate. A reporter confronted him, and the officer left the scene. Later that day, sheriff deputies no longer treated blockaders gently during arrest. In front of television cameras and reporters, tired policemen routinely roughed up blockaders and arrested encroaching reporters. A news team from Cable Network had their camera broken during arrest. People hiking in the back country fared even worse. Police from Paso Robles severely beat David Broadwater, a former candidate for the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. His injuries necessitated early release from jail.

That afternoon, Commissioner Glen Craig, supervising all law enforcement agencies working on the blockade, held a meeting with Sheriff George Whiting to demand civil treatment of blockaders during arrest. The CHP served as a peace keeping force, among the 30 police agencies assigned to the action. After the meeting, treatment of blockaders improved. Agencies took turns guarding the front gate and worked shorter shifts. Blockaders sang “Happy Trails to You,” at the end of each shift.

Scattered instances of police abuse continued. San Luis Obispo county deputies forced thirty-seven sea blockaders to climb a knotted rope to clear a beach front cliff. Andrea Elukovich, a San Francisco Deputy Sheriff on leave to blockade, remembered, “When I was just about to clear the top of the bluff, a deputy kicked me so that I ended up spread eagle in the dirt. I had dirt in my hand and threw it in his direction. After I threw the dirt, someone grabbed me by the hair and dragged my along the bluff while the deputy kicked me two or three times. As I was being dragged, someone punched me in the mouth.” 5 The county charged Elukovich with a felony, but later dropped all charges.

Helicopters and infrared scanners never detected the hundreds of blockaders crawling through the underbrush behind the reactor. Several affinity groups reached the double fence surrounding the reactor, undetected, illustrating the plants vulnerability to sabotage.

The affinity groups Zen Archers, Love and Rage, and the Heliotropes planned to I blockade the road two miles inside the front gate. The group listened to a pay by play account of the front gate blockade over the radio. After PG&E buses breached the front gate, the blockaders moved into position. Several buses sped toward the reactor led by a bus with “The Spirit of America,” emblazoned above the windshield.

When the buses appeared, the group jumped out of the bushes and held up signs, “STOP PLEASE, BLOCKADE AHEAD.’

Crystal described the day:

The driver sees us, hesitates, sees the people ahead and slams on his brakes. The Greyhound swerves back and forth across the road and so does the next and the next and the next. As far as I can see down the road its buses and cars. The workers stay on their buses as they’ve been told and we sing ‘The Earth, the fire, the water, the air, returns, returns.’

Two police cars come up behind us and so does a PG&E truck. They get out and scratch their heads. An empty school bus comes from the same direction to be used for our arrest. The Narcoleptics, and SAVE and Solidarity come out of their hiding places a little further up the road and block it. We cheer. The police are surrounded. They are holding their hats in their hands as they talk; they are also turning their hats in little circles, working them like worry beads.

Twenty-eight minutes pass. How much time is that really? How much money for PG&E? What do the workers think sitting on their buses halfway between the main gate and Diablo, now one-and-a-half hours late for work?  (Later after the bust, when they rolled through on their way to their jobs we got more peace signs flipped at us than fingers. But mostly they just stared.)

Oh the bust. It could have been worse. An army truck pulled up in our front line, sirens screaming. A squad of San Luis Obispo Sheriffs in riot gear leapt out on the run and piled into us without slowing. . . a few people got pretty jerked around. Randi Heliotrope, an engineer from one of those companies in the Silicon Valley, is clubbed in the face and kicked in the groin for no reason. The Zen Archers Woman goes limp and gets badly twisted for her principles. It could have been worse. The cops are pretty pissed.

The California Highway Patrol shows up. Some of them are wearing anti-nuke buttons under their jackets. We ask them what they think of the fact that a lot of SLO Sheriffs aren’t wearing badgers or nametags. Several look embarrassed.

The Highway Patrol wants to let us go. The Sheriffs are against it. They argue. A PG&E official gives us orders to disperse. We try. The Sheriffs won’t let us go. Legally we are in the clear since the police are so confused they have completely blown the bust. But force is nine-tenths law, as is soon made clear. Off we go to jail. I traded my blockade button for a cup of coffee with a Chicano National Guardsman who drove the Sheriffs around in an army truck. He was OK. When we asked him why he was doing it he said: ‘You guys don’t understand. I was ordered to. I’m not a cop. I’m in the army. We’re on your side.’ 6

For the first two days after arrests began, the guards refused to allow attorneys’ access to blockaders. At the men’s jail, attorneys shouted over the fence to their clients. But women didn’t talk to attorneys until arraignment. The courts clogged with arrestees, and 220 had been in jail for more than 48 hours awaiting arraignment. Attorneys filed writs seeking their clients release for illegal detainment. Judges ignored the writs.

Most ·participants pled may contendere and received $120 fines with jail sentence for time served. Judges refused to release defendants pleading not guilty on their own recognizance, and required the people to sign an agreement not to return to the blockade. Blockaders found the conditions unacceptable, and everyone refused arraignment until the judges agreed to release all persons pleading not guilty on their own recognizance.

The solidarity statements frustrated the judges, and no one moved through the courts. Judge Kenneth Chatiner declined to follow the lead of other judges and released everyone he arraigned on their own recognizance. At one point, Chatiner asked Karen Silkwood to approach the bench, and eight people came forward. The District Attorney, uncomfortable with Chatiner’s actions, used a preemptory challenge to remove him from the case.

On his last day on the bench, Chatiener twinkled defendants as he left the court room. Twinkling is an Abalone Alliance gesture to show approval for a statement during a meeting by silently waving your hands over your head. Chatiener also ordered the sheriffs to release the blockaders’ confiscated backpacks. The prosecutor wanted to hold the backpacks until trial to show intent to trespass. Unfortunately for the blockaders, the District Attorney obtained an injunction against the release, forcing blockaders to return to camp without their sleeping bags.

As the blockade progressed, community residents issued statements of support The mayor of San Luis Obispo made a public statement that the blockade did not have a negative fiscal impact on the city. One fisherman donated his entire day’s catch of shrimp to feed people at the CBT. Food and clothing donations flowed into the camp from around the county.

Jeremy Wakefield, wanted to organize an activity for local residents to show their opposition to Diablo without getting arrested. She invited a few friends to march against Diablo Canyon. Five thousand people joined her at Avila Beach the first Sunday after the blockade began. Marchers stretched from the town of Avila to the gates of Diablo Canyon and back again. Boy scouts, businessmen, and housewives participated in the festivities, surprising organizers and reporters alike. No one blockaded on that day.

The following morning, September 19th, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued the anticipated decision granting PG&E a low—power test license. Three Commissioners, however, expressed doubts about the plant’s safety. Victor Gilinsky called the security hearings, conducted by the Appeals Board, “shoddy.” Despite the unreassuringly comments from the Commissioners, PG6cE remained jubilant about the license. Later that afternoon, the Reverend Cecil Williams, from Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, joined an affinity group and was arrested at the gates of Diablo Canyon.

Arrest totals reached 1483 on Tuesday and the Sheriffs Department announced a new record arrest record for an anti-nuclear demonstration. The National Guard and the California Highway Patrol expressed confidence in the Sheriff’s department’s ability to handle future arrests and left the county.

Endorsements for the blockade continued to come in from around the country. San Francisco Supervisors Carol Ruth Silver delivered a framed blockade endorsement letter signed by herself and supervisors Nancy Walker and Harry Britt. William Bennett, chairman of the State Board of Equalization, dropped by to talk with blockaders. Recalling hearings before the Public Utilities Commission fifteen years earlier, he told reporters, “Diablo Canyon was undemocratically approved. These people are to be commended.”

Dr. Richard Krejsa, a former County Supervisor, formed an affinity group composed of staff and professors from California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo. Twenty-eight families participated in that affinity group. “We felt it was necessary to have good upright middle-class people visible,” Krejsa remembered.

Both Richard Krejsa and his wife Julie were arrested. Richard Krejsa felt his children benefited from the experience of both parents being in jail for a worthy cause. Liz Aphelberg, an original Intervenor against the plant, joined the affinity group and served jail time with Julie Krejsa.

By the eighth day of the action, and faced with empty court rooms, the judges finally agreed to the blockaders demands and released persons pleading not guilty on unconditional OR. At a separate hearing on jail conditions, a deputy district attorney argued that conditions couldn’t be too bad since people refused to leave. The food is good, he said. “The men have a smorgasbord arrangement including vegetables, peanut butter, bologna, and bread. The women get a hot roll and coffee for breakfast, a big lunch, and a hot dinner.”

Presiding Judge William Freedman asked wryly, “Is that chivalry or logistics?” and ordered an investigation into the possibility of providing hot food for the men. At the same time he heard arguments for releasing confiscated backpacks and sleeping bags. The District Attorney insisted that sleeping bags proved intent, Freedman admonished the D.A. “I think your arguments are bogus. Blockaders admit to being there, and they are glad they did it.”

Throughout the second week of the blockade, organizers ruminated, ‘was it time to end the blockade?’ New blockaders no longer streamed into camp. People staffing the various logistics committees tired and wanted to close down the camp. The great unwashed wandered into the camp in search of Woodstock revisited. The new crew brought a sanitation problem. Emptying the porta potties cost $500 a dump. Garbage collection became a problem.

The Service Counsel, composed of representatives from the different logistics collectives, formally broached the subject of ending the blockade on Wednesday, I September 23rd. Affinity groups wanted to wait until the weekend before making a I formal decision. People realized the action couldn’t continue for ever, nevertheless some individuals fantasized about guerilla actions in the hills.  Although the blockade was not yet over, most participants packed to return to jobs and family. Jails thinned and the Sheriffs moved the women to the county jail, and took the men to the Men’s Colony. By Saturday evening, September 26th, after an eight hour meeting, affinity groups reached consensus to end the blockade. Blockaders vowed to continue actions in their own community to stop the plant. The following. day, 7,000 people participated in a legal march to oppose Diablo Canyon.

On Monday morning, the wake-up collective walked through camp announcing, “Good morning blockaders, it is 3:00 a.m. and time to get up.” The Abalone Alliance members roused themselves and prepared for final check—out, while the music of Kate Wolf played over the solar powered sound system. Blockaders walked to the front gate at 6:00 a.m. and police quickly arrested them. One lone reporter from Los Angeles radio station KFWB covered the final action. The Feminist Cluster delivered a citizens arrest to the local PG&E office manager William Savy. Police arrested the women at 5:00 p.m. bringing arrest totals for the two week demonstration to 1901.

That same day, PG&E announced that it used the wrong blue prints when installing key support bracing for unit one. The safety system had been installed backward and the plant wasn’t safe to operate. Jailed blockaders cheered the news.  Diablo Canyon had been stopped, and the blockaders felt partially responsible.

Judges reduced jail time to three days and guards and prisoners prepared to go home. Jail guards dropped by the Diablo Project Office and purchased Blockade Diablo t—shirts. Several joined their former prisoners for a farewell drink.

Although the Diablo blockade did not physically stop fuel loading, it provided a j method for people to show their convictions. Consensus allowed people an opportunity l to speak out and participate in decision making. People learned new organizing skills and returned to their community to organize other activities. Abalone Alliance leaders call the phenomenon empowerment.

CHP Commissioner Glen Craig reflected about his 1aw—enforcement experience.  “The exercise has shown how smoothly state and local agencies can work together. We can take what we’ve learned at Diablo Canyon and apply it to any other emergency situation—flood, fire, or earthquake — anywhere in California.” He “knew of no demonstration anywhere else in the world that had remained as non—violent — with great restrain on the part of both the demonstrators and law—enforcement personnel — as those at Diablo Canyon.” 7

Pronuclear groups found the, blockade disturbing. Carol Hallet, the minority leader for the state Assembly, filed a $2.3 million lawsuit against the Abalone Alliance, Mothers for Peace, Greenpeace, and several individuals for expenses incurred by the county, the state, and PG&E resulting from the blockade. The Pacific Legal Foundation coordinated the suit and filed discovery motions to obtain all Abalone Alliance records, meeting minutes, membership lists, and the names of all non-violence preparers.

After the blockade, questions remained about the actions viability. Many reporters said PG&E did what the protesters couldn’t — shut the plant down. It took a junior pipe analyst to discover the mistake that prevented the plant from opening. But other reporters acknowledged the blockade set the stage for disclosure of the blueprint error. The mistake wouldn’t have received nationwide attention if it hadn’t been for the blockade. Newspaper editors decided Diablo Canyon was a viable news story and assigned their reporters to do additional investigations.

KFWB reporter Andrew Reynolds said the demonstration created the atmosphere for Congress to hold investigative hearings on why the mistake occurred. It also showed a new movement with people participating out of conviction — and not a throwback to the 60’s.

Reporters had never covered an event like Diablo Canyon, and learned about new models of decision making. Eric Brazil, with Gannett News Service reflected, “The blockade was a consciousness raiser to the media who were serious about covering it.  It was an eye opener. I went through a lot of changes.” Brazil supervised a five-member news team. Several reporters contacted him after the event and said it was the most interesting story they had ever covered. Brazil later located John Horn, the man who discovered the blue print mistake, and obtained the first interview.

Ginger Varney, writing for the TLA; Weekly summarized what happened to participants:

People like Peggy and Gary and Theresa and the Lou Snit Affinity Group are all having their say. The nuclear power plant will no doubt withstand their words, but this hardly matters at least at this writing. What matters is that these people who are here have learned a lot about living their thoughts while living with each other. Call it consensus, or simply plain sense — for a few days people are trying one last time to stop the insanity of operating a nuclear power plant two—and—a-half miles from an active earthquake fault, and that‘s no small thing.

So here’s to Lou Snit and all they stand for — their sense of courage and their sense of adventure. But most of all for their sense of fun. For it’s this gritty, infectious fun for life that Lou Snit, individually and collectively possesses which the blockade was meant to protect and preserve.” 8

Ron Kelly, also of the LA Weekly wrote:

For all you cynics out there, yes, there was a guy at the campground blowing bubbles. There was another guy with an American flag, a few romantics P strumming folk guitars, a hippie look-alike complete with hair, and like it or not, flashback visions of all the Woodstock-Age of Aquarius stuff minus drugs and narcissism. But make no mistake. This gathering had the further distinction of existing as a political action. It was a moral commitment of people of conscience in a collective act of civil disobedience. Perhaps a little fluffy at times, even a bit too self-consciously romantic with dramatics of martyrdom, if was nevertheless refreshing to witness such sacrifices and conviction in an age of widespread cynicism.

For many Americans, the fact the blockaders’ visionary talk sounds so corny simply illustrates how the rest of us as a society have become. Yet once we’ve established these codes of idealistic old clichés — standing up for morals and human dignity, love and peace and blah blah blah — a gnawing question remains, as these protesters have dramatically tried to demonstrate: once we as individuals truly recognize that we are all being passively dragged toward Hell, then what? 9

Footnotes to Chapter 8

  1. Sharon Sponge, “Variations on Towel and Bandana,” It’s About Times. December-January 1982.
  2. Terry Lamphier, “Diablo Toilet Bowel ’81. . . and Other Tails,” It’s About Times, December – January 1982.
  1. Sharon Sponge.
  2. Ginger Varney, “Diablo Canyon: Why Are Those Demonstrators Smiling,” L.A. Weekly, September 25-October 1, 1981.
  1. Ward Young and Mark Evanoff, “The Diablo Blockade,” It’s About Times, October-November 1981.
  1. Crystal, “28 Minute Blockade,” It’s About Times, December – January 1982.
  2. Glen Craig, quoted in “CHP Called to Diablo Demonstrations,” Zenith 1200, October 1981.
  1. Ginger Varney, “The Further Adventures of Lou Snit,” L.A. Weekly. October 2-8, 1981.
  1. Ron Kelly, “Diablo Canyon: The Failings of the Press and the Question of Media Control,” L.A. Weekly, October 2-8, 1981.



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