Arrests at Hiroshima & Nagasaki Day actions across the U.S.


August 6, 2011 photo by Rich Conti

August 6, 2011 photo by Rich Conti

Peace and anti-nuclear activists demonstrated at Lockheed Martin in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania on August 6, the date in 1945 that the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.  After a commemoration which included music, litany, bell-tolling and a ceremony of memory and hope with incense, water and ashes, six people attempted to deliver photos of the aftermath of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Lockheed Martin management.

Annie Geers, Paul Sheldon, Bernadette Cronin-Geller, Robert M. Smith, Tom Mullian and Fr. Patrick Sieber, OFM were arrested, given disorderly conduct citations and released.

from Hiroshima Day Litany, August 6, 2013, Lockheed Martin, King of Prussia, PA

Reader: In July of 1944, a year before the atomic bomb was tested, Charles E. Wilson, president of General Electric, said: “The revulsion against war not too long hence will be an insuperable obstacle for us to overcome and for that reason I am convinced that we must set in motion the machinery of a permanent war economy .… it must be an ongoing program…..” The permanent war economy is built on the absolute belief in the rightness and dominance of United States power and interests around the world. That’s empire, in which most suffer so that very, very few can prosper. And empire means endless war and threat of war: Aegis warships, the militarization of space, F-35 Stealth fighters – the most expensive weapons system in human history.
Empire now means a whole new era of remote-controlled killing: DRONES, that have killed thousands of innocent civilians, many of them children. At the Horsham Air Guard Station, just across Montgomery County, a drone war command center is planned to be up and running by October 1. And Lockheed Martin? It profits by producing not only drone aircraft, but also the Hell Fire missiles they carry and the satellites that guide them to their targets, to their “kills,” from the continental U.S.

All: Today, a bell tolls for peace and for all the victims of nuclear weapons and of war. We bring a commitment to stopping the injustice and criminal enterprise of Lockheed Martin. Peace is a plea to save ourselves, our children, our communities, the world. On this Hiroshima Day at Lockheed Martin, we continue to declare peace, demand justice, and a time in which the world is free of nuclear weapons and war.


photo of Fr. Louie Vitale, OFM and David Hartsough by Leslie Klusmire

photo of Fr. Louie Vitale, OFM and David Hartsough by Leslie Klusmire


Daniel Ellsberg among 31 arrested at Livermore Lab during Hiroshima Day protest

by Jeremy Thomas, from

Livermore, California  — Famed “Pentagon Papers” whistle-blower and anti-nuclear activist Daniel Ellsberg was one of 31 protesters arrested at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on Tuesday as part of a rally commemorating the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Lying down in front of the lab’s west gate, where they were outlined in chalk to symbolize the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the protesters were ordered to disperse by Alameda County sheriff’s deputies. After a second warning for participating in an unlawful assembly, Ellsberg and others were pulled away by lab security. Those arrested were cited by the deputies for blocking the gate — essentially trespassing — and released.

“It’s hard for me to believe that the crime (Hiroshima) will not be repeated,” Ellsberg said prior to his arrest. “We shouldn’t be letting it go on without our protests. This won’t happen without it being over our bodies.”

The mass “die-in,” part of an annual Hiroshima Day protest organized by the Livermore Conversion Project and Tri-Valley CAREs (Citizens Against a Radioactive Environment), was preceded by a 7 a.m. rally at the corner of Vasco and Patterson Pass roads and a procession that drew nearly 250 people. Tri-Valley CAREs Executive Director Marylia Kelley said the purpose of the event was to call not just for the abolition of nuclear weapons, but to support civilian science at the lab.

During the hour-long program, the Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka, a Nagasaki bombing survivor, told of his exposure to nuclear fallout as an infant, and of losing his mother, sister and brother to radiation poisoning.

“Those who survived owe it to the dead,” Hanaoka told the crowd. “You are all survivors; it is the responsibility of you and I to make sure we leave the world safe, peaceful and nuclear-free.”

Ellsberg gave the morning’s keynote speech, warning of the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons to humanity and asking attendees to close their eyes for 43 seconds, the time it took for the bomb to land on Hiroshima after being dropped.

“There was a cut in history at that point,” Ellsberg said. “We have had this much time to do better, and we have not made use of it.”

The speakers elicited some support from passing motorists, as well as a few yells from  detractors. At 8:15 a.m., a siren wailed and the somber gathering observed a moment of silence for the bombing victims. Then, the march commenced down Vasco Road to the lab’s west gate.

Berkeley protester Chizu Hamada, originally from Tokyo, made the quarter-mile walk holding a banner commemorating the Fukushima nuclear accident of 2011.

“We have to erase nuclear weapons and plants,” Hamada said. “This bomb was totally inhuman. It never should have happened.”

While an Okinawan band played a mournful tune, Stella Roemers, of Union City, joined with the protesters being outlined with chalk outside the gate.

“The idea is when you are down on the floor, you are putting your body in their place,” Roemers said.

Despite the arrests, Livermore lab spokewoman Lynda Seaver said the protest was peaceful, and similar to previous Hiroshima Day rallies over the past two decades.

“They’ve been doing this a number of years,” Seaver said. “It’s fairly routine, and their numbers are diminishing.”


Silent vigil in front of the Enola Gay. Photo by Ted Majdosz

Silent vigil in front of the Enola Gay. Photo by Ted Majdosz


by Art Laffin, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker

Report on the August 5-6th Faith and Resistance Retreat to commemorate the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima

On the evening of August 5, over a dozen people gathered at DDCW for an evening of reflection and action planning. A compelling reflection, prepared by Rosemary Thompson, (Rosemary was not present to share this as she was caring for her Mom who had a sudden stroke) was offered about the theme of the retreat: remembering the pain of Hiroshima of Nagasaki, repenting the sin of the use of nuclear weapons against the Japanese and reclaiming the future for peace. As this year marks the 50th anniversary of President John Kennedy’s visionary speech on peace and disarmament at American University, special emphasis was given to this speech which occurred nine months after the Cuban Missile Crisis and five months before he was was assassinated (read JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, by Jim Douglass regarding why Kennedy was assassinated and who was really behind it). After listening to Kennedy’s speech, we then viewed the horrific graphic footage of the immediate aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, which were withheld from the public for some twenty years following the bombings.

On August 6, from 7:00 – 8:00 a.m., about twenty people from the Atlantic Life Community and the War Resisters League, following a procession from Army-Navy Drive, witnessed outside the Pentagon south metro entrance in the police designated fenced off protest area. Holding banners as well as photos of the victims and devastation of Hiroshima, many also wore sackcloth and ashes, ancient biblical symbols of repentance. The witness included a Gospel reading about the feast of the Transfiguration, the reading of a poem, Shadow on the Rock,” by Dan Berrigan, SJ, hearing an excerpt of President Kennedy’s peace and disarmament speech, a period of silence with prayerful chanting and drumming by Helen Schietinger, and the singing of  “I Come and Stand.” This was followed by Bill Frankel Streit and Art Laffin reading a statement (see below). Bill and Art (both Catholic Workers) and Nancy Gowen (grandmother and peace activist) then proceded to walk out to the sidewalk where many Pentagon employees and military were filing into the building, knelt in prayer and were ordered by Pentagon police to return to the designated protest area. After the second police warning to leave, we prayed the Lord’s Paryer and were subsequenty arrested.  We were processed and released several hours later. We were charged with disobeying a lawful order and have an October 4 trial date.

At 12 Noon, about thirty people gathered at the Udvar Hazy museum to conduct a silent prayerful witness in front of the Enola Gay warplane which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. As we approached this enshrined idol of death, Smithsonian police were already stationed in front of and around it. As soon as our vigil began and we displayed photos of the victims, we were ordered to leave or be arrested. After the second warning Liz McAlister read Dan’s poem, Shadow on the Rock. We then began to sing as we slowly processed out of the museum accompanied by numerous police. We were all threatened with arrest numerous times for holding photos and singing. Once we were finally outside the police refused to let us have a reflection circle near the museum’s entrance and threatened us with arrest yet again. So we walked to an empty parking area near where our cars were and held a closing circle. We were honored to have with us Setsuko Thurlow, an A-Bomb survivor (hibakusha) who now lives in Toronto, who shared her experience of what it was like as a thirteen year old to live through what she called an “indiscriminate massacre” and “planned mass murder.”  During her moving and inspiring reflection, she referred to the Enola Gay warplane as a “blasphemy.”  As we concluded our circle, we shared with her the apology we made to the Japanese people during our Pentagon witness and expressed to her personally how sorry we were for what the U.S. did to the Japanese people. She most graciously thanked us and commended us for our work.

Statement Offered Before Pentagon Arrests

As people of faith we believe it’s a sin to build a nuclear weapon. We decry the existence and continued possession and threatened use of these and other idolatrous and murderous weapons.  We apologize to the people of Japan for our country’s atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 68 years ago, and ask forgiveness for these atrocities and the ongoing suffering of those affected by nuclear radiation. We repent for the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons at the expense of unmet human needs. Further, we repent for the over 50 times the US has threatened to use nuclear weapons since the first atomic bombings. We call for the closing of all U.S. nuclear weapons facilities and for the disarmament and abolition of all nuclear weapons and all weapons of terror, including killer drones. We also call for an end to the construction of a new US-backed naval base on Jeju Island in S. Korea that will serve as a US military outpost to threaten and contain China. We join with the imprisoned Transform Now Plowshares, the jailed Jeju Island resisters, the Guantanamo hunger strikers, and all peace and justice makers everywhere in calling for a world without weapons, oppression, torture and war, where all the swords of our time are transformed into plowshares. We make this plea in the name of all victims of our warmaking empire, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.


Photo of Linda Pon Owens and Frances Crowe by Marcia Gagliardi

Photo of Linda Pon Owens and Frances Crowe by Marcia Gagliardi


Shut It Down affinity group blocks 5 p.m. shift entrance

VERNON, Vermont—“Vermont Yankee is more deadly than Hiroshima,” proclaims the banner eight women of the Shut It Down Affinity Group employed to block forty carsful of Entergy Vermont Yankee workers from reporting to their 5 pm shift for more than a half hour on Tuesday before Vernon police transported them from Entergy’s gate after arresting them.

Shut It Downers acted on the 68th anniversary of the United States’ destruction of Hiroshima, Japan with the world’s first atomic bomb that resulted in more than a hundred thousand immediate deaths and far more deaths and debilitating illnesses from the effects of radiation. The United States is the only nation in the world to have employed atomic weapons, a practice continued today with US weapons tipped with depleted uranium.

Officer Albrey Crowley of the Vernon Police Department arrested, from Vermont, Linda Pon Owen, 74, of Brattleboro and Ulrike von Moltke, 69 of Sharon; from Massachusetts, Hattie Nestel, 74, and Marcia Gagliardi, 65, of Athol; Anneke Corbett, 70, of Florence; Frances Crowe, 94 and Susan Lantz, 72, of Northampton; and Ellen Graves, 72, of West Springfield. The women were released without charges pending further review.

Before blocking the Vermont Yankee gate, Shut It Downers vigiled legally from 4 to 5 pm across Route 142 from the power plant driveway as workers exited from a day shift. In addition to their main banner, Shut It Downers carried signs that read “Hiroshima Killed/Vermont Yankee Kills” and “Vermont Yankee is killing us all.”

“I had to be here today,” said Lantz. “Nuclear power is destroying the earth. We must end it before it ends us.”

Pondering the dilemma of blocking workers from entering their job site, Nestel paraphrased Rabbi Abraham Heschel who marched in the front lines with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during civil rights activism fifty years ago in Selma, Alabama: “Justice is not important as an abstraction or value but for practical effects on people. It is not so much the ideal of justice but practical applications of injustice or oppression. The thing is to interfere in situations which, while not concerning us personally, must be regarded as instances of injustice.”

“Today,” Nestel said, “we interfered with the unjust operation of Entergy’s Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant on the anniversary of the United States bombing of Hiroshima. We shut Vermont Yankee down for a half hour and blocked forty carsful of people from going to work.”

“If no one went to work at Vermont Yankee,” added Gagliardi, “there would be no need for anyone else to shut it down.”

During the legal vigil, 97 cars the women judged to be carrying Vermont Yankee workers exited the power plant. Separately, a vintage Lincoln Towncar slowed on Route 142. The elder driver rolled down his window to ask if anyone present had been to Hiroshima or Nagasaki. He identified himself as from nearby Hinsdale, NH, and said he had seen Nagasaki right after the bombing. “Horrible,” he said. “Bless you, Ladies.”

Nestel has walked from Hiroshima to Nagasaki several times with the Buddhist monastic order Nipponzan Myohoji which built and maintains the Peace Pagoda in Leverett, Massachusetts.


Photo by Jed Poole

Photo by Jed Poole


Six people from the Los Angeles Catholic Worker community (including two summer interns) were arrested on August 9, the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, when they carried a large banner reading “Hiroshima – Never Again” into Vandenberg Air Force Base in central California.  Mac Loftin, Rebecca Casas, Barbara Robinson, Karan Benton, Jeff Dietrich and Mike Wisniewski were cited for trespassing.  The group was released an hour and a half later at Ryon Park in Lompoc.


Peace activists symbolically close nuclear sub base

by Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

Silverdale, WA, August 11, 2013:  Peace activists symbolically closed the US Navy’s West coast Trident submarine base in remembrance of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Activists with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action held a peaceful afternoon vigil and nonviolent direct action at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Main Gate in remembrance of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Trident submarine base at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, Washington, represents the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons in the U.S. Arsenal.

Each of the 8 OHIO class submarines at Bangor carry as many as 24 Trident II(D-5) missiles, each capable of carrying up to 8 independently targetable warheads.  Each nuclear warhead has an explosive yield up to 32 times the yield of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Photo by Leonard Eiger

Photo by Leonard Eiger

At Sunday’s vigil people lined the roadside with signs and banners calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

After a half hour  three participants walked on to the roadway (Highway 3/Luoto Road) holding a banner reading “Give Peace a Chance. No, Seriously.”  Washington State Patrol officers escorted the resisters to the median where they were issued citations for being in the roadway where prohibited.

After a few minutes a second group blocked the roadway with a banner that said “Create a Peaceful World. Abolish Nuclear Weapons.”  They were also escorted to the median and cited.

A short while later a final group stretched a banner across the entrance lanes.  It read “We can all live without Trident.”  State Patrol officers escorted these last four nuclear resisters to the median for processing and release.

A total of ten (10) persons risked arrest.  All were issued citations for walking on the roadway where prohibited and released at the scene.

Those cited were Catherine Clemens, Lopez Island, WA; Robert Clemens, Lopez Island, WA; Susan Corbin, Lopez Island, WA; Anne Hall, Lopez Island, WA; Dave Hall, Lopez Island, WA; Mack Johnson, Silverdale, WA; Constance Mears, Poulsbo, WA; Elizabeth Murray, Bellingham, WA; Jean Sundborg, Seattle, WA; and Alice Zillah, Olympia, WA.

Sunday’s vigil, nonviolent direct action and leafleting were the culmination of a weekend of events at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

The weekend included nonviolence training, education on the Trident nuclear weapons system and US nuclear weapons policies and activities, a candlelight vigil at the Bangor base on August 9, and vigils and leafleting at multiple locations on Saturday, August 10.

Two Ground Zero members, Mona Lee and Bert Sacks, appeared in Kitsap District Court on Friday on charges related to their May arrests during Ground Zero’s Mother’s Day weekend action at Bangor.

A highlight of the weekend was the keynote presentation by Bernie Meyer, known in India as “The American Gandhi.”  Meyer presented a portrayal of Gandhi and his journey of nonviolence.

According to Meyer, when asked by Margaret Bourke-White how he would address the atomic bomb, Gandhi replied, “Nonviolence is the only thing the atom bomb cannot destroy.  When I heard that Hiroshima was bombed, I did not move a muscle.  I thought unless humanity adopts nonviolence, it will be suicide for humanity.”

Participants in the weekend included members of the 2013 Interfaith Peace Walk for a Nuclear Free Future and people from a number of Seattle Catholic parishes.

Ground Zero holds three scheduled vigils and actions each year in resistance to Trident and in protest of U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

The group has been working to stop the Navy’s construction of a $715 million Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor.

Ground Zero will soon launch a campaign to defund the Navy’s next generation ballistic missile submarine, estimated to cost nearly $100 billion just to build.

For thirty-six years Ground Zero has engaged in education, training in nonviolence, community building, resistance against Trident and action toward a world without nuclear weapons.