A letter to his son after being arrested at Lockheed in 1979

In 1979, Bill was arrested at a protest against Cruise Missiles at Lockheed in Sunnyvale, CA. This was Bill’s first arrest in a protest (although he was a lifelong protestor for peace and civil rights). His middle son, Lee, had been arrested the year before at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant (near San Luis Obispo, CA). Leading to that protest, Bill drove a “sag wagon” truck that carried supplies for Lee and six other riders who rode their bicycles from Berkeley to SLO to “Pedal Out Plutonium on a Bicycle.” Bill wrote the following letter to Lee after his 1979 protest at Lockheed.

Dear Lee:

When you hollered across four lanes of highway and a middle divider — “I love you, Dad” — as I was about to be arrested at Lockheed, you really made it all worthwhile.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the meaning and value of conscientious acts of witness and protest in the face of evil no matter what kind of feed—back or outer satisfaction one receives. And I have received enough support or appreciation from others to have a real sense of satisfaction from my first ever act of civil disobedience.

But you and I have been traveling this father/son peace road together long enough for your words to remain the high point of a very high and deep experience for me.

I made one discovery during the 36 hours in jail which resulted from my guilty plea. and my not accepting the $70 fine or the 18 hours of community service as appropriate expressions of the depth of my concern about nuclear madness. I found that I had a desire to support you and to share in some way your impending jail sentence for your civil disobedience of last summer at Diablo Canyon. That desire was fully as important as my desire to register again my protest against our insane pursuit of nuclear genocide.

Sharing my jail time with Larry F. from the San Jose Catholic Worker helped me to get in touch with this part of my motivation. Although Larry looks older than you physically, it turned out that he, too, is just 19 years old. You two do share considerable maturity of commitment and ability. I think that likeness triggered my insight into my double motivation.

Another young man I saw in the TV room added to the intensity of my realization for he looked very young and very lost. The fact that he was probably in for some combination of drug, drinking and/or driving problems was part of his lost look. I am grateful that the jail time you and Larry and others like you serve is a measure of what you have already found in the way of truth about yourselves and the world rather than evidence of your being lost.

I loved the way you pieced together the public transit systems of four counties and your thumb to get you from Berkeley to Sunnyvale on the day of the protest, It was a nice footnote, of sorts, to the alternative energy dimension of your nuclear power protest and a gentle affirmation of the possibilities of alternatives everywhere, even in such areas as nuclear weapons.

Finally, Lee, I am really pleased you are continuing your college work and your goal of seeking public office. You and I both know that jail going, trespassing and protesting are not the end of the line. You and your generation deserve a nuclear-free, fear-free future in which to raise your children.

Go for it, Lee.

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