A Letter to the Editor from Richard Kamler

Nostalgia over Peace Navy

Regarding “Documenting decades of area protest” (Datebook, July 6): The article on protest photographs and the mention of the Peace Navy brought back rich memories of two collaborations I had with the Peace Navy and Bob Heifetz, who passed away several years ago. In 1992, on the eve of Robert Alton Harris’ execution, we decided to surround San Quentin State Prison with the sound of lions roaring. I’d made a recording of lions roaring, and we had speakers on the boat. When the execution was going ahead, we cranked up the sound and made our pass in front of the prison.

Helicopters came, pinned us with a light, and the boat was taken under control by the U.S. Coast Guard. We were charged with a “sound ordinance: a public nuisance.” The charges were later dismissed. A second collaboration with the Peace Navy happened in a protest against the militarism of Fleet Week. We created a large inflatable-looking loaf of french bread and painted in the tricolors of France. On its side, in bold letters, we painted “Make Bread Not Bombs.” We towed it in front of the Dartmouth, where dignitaries were on board. We were taken by the Coast Guard again and later released. I miss the Peace Navy.

Richard Kamler, San Francisco/ San Francisco Chronicle

Richard Kamler and his work at the gallery last August

Richard Kamler and his work at the gallery last August