Nuclear abolitionists block doors to the U.S. Mission to the U.N.; 22 arrested



Sixty nuclear abolition activists rallied at the Isaiah Wall near the United Nations on April 27 before marching to the U.S. Mission to the U.N. The group was surprised to discover that police had not barricaded off the sidewalk between the two as part of securing the Mission from any planned demonstration. They walked right up to the main entrance and held a long banner in front of it which read, “Shadows and Ashes: All That Remain”. Some of the group circled around the city block, and sat on the sidewalk in front of the side entrance with signs that read “Sit-In For Survival” and “Abolish All Nuclear Weapons Now”.

The doors were blocked for about half an hour before police moved in to arrest them. Fourteen  activists were arrested at the front entrance, and eight were arrested at the side entrance. All 22 were taken to the 17th Precinct station for processing. They were released by 1 p.m. with two “disorderly conduct” summons to appear in court on June 24.

The nonviolent direct action took place as Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review meetings got underway at the U.N. Those arrested are Ardeth Platte, Art Laffin, Bill Ofenloch, Carol Gilbert, Ed Hedemann, Jerry Goralnick, Jim Clune, Joan Pleune, John LaForge, Martha Hennessy, Ruth Benn, Trudy Silver, Vicki Rovere, Walter Goodman, David McReynolds, Sally Jones, Mike Levinson, Florindo Troncelliti, Helga Moor, Alice Sutter, Bud Courtney and Tarak Kauff.



Organizers of the action had written:

In late April 2015, representatives from around the world gather at the United Nations to talk about nuclear weapons at the United Nations. Every five years the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) is reviewed during three weeks of meetings.

This is not the first time they have talked. Fifteen times since the United States dropped nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 — killing more than 300,000 in a flash — world leaders have met to discuss nuclear disarmament. After decades of talking about disarmament nine countries still threaten the world with more than 16,000 nuclear weapons at the ready.

In 2009, President Obama pledged that the United States would seek the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons. Instead his administration is budgeting $350 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade and modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons program. The abolition of nuclear weapons will never happen if we just wait for the leaders who gather at the East River to do it.

Take action with us to demand that the world powers stop talking and disarm.

Take action with us to demand that the United States — the country that began the nuclear arms race — immediately abolish its nuclear weapons for the security of humankind.

Sponsoring organizations included the War Resisters League • Brooklyn For Peace • Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) • Codepink • Dorothy Day Catholic Worker • Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace • Global Network against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space • Granny Peace Brigade • Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action • Jonah House • Kairos Community • Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives • Manhattan Green Party • Nodutdol • North Manhattan Neighbors for Peace and Justice • Nuclear Peace Foundation • Nuclear Resister • NY Metro Raging Grannies • Pax Christi Metro New York • Peace Action (National) • Peace Action Manhattan • Peace Action NYS • Peace Action of Staten Island • Roots Action • Shut Down Indian Point Now • United for Peace and Justice • US Peace Council • War Is a Crime • World Can’t Wait.

Video of the action by John Amidon here.

Photo by Ellen Davidson

Photo by Ellen Davidson

from Leonard Eiger of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

A beautiful morning in New York; warm and sunny; the trees are in full bloom as we came together at the Isaiah Wall across the street from the United Nations where we participated in a legal vigil.

There are many reminders around the United Nations that the leaders of nations have obviously chosen not to heed, The Isaiah Wall contains what, to me, is the strongest message of all. Yet today, as we stood vigil, the United States representatives to the NPT Review Conference are working to maintain the nuclear status quo.

And so, when we finished vigiling, we walked to the U.S. Mission to the UN where roughly two dozen people representing different affinity groups took up their positions in a nonviolent blockade of the doors to the mission.

The name of the action – SHADOWS AND ASHES – was appropriate, because shadows and ashes are all that remain after a nuclear explosion. The reason for the blockade at the U.S. Mission is that the U.S. has continually blocked all efforts toward disarmament and continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal, thus putting the world at ever-increasing threat of nuclear omnicide.

New York City’s finest were out in force, and they allowed the blockade to continue for quite a few minutes before moving in to arrest the resisters. There were plenty of people making a record of the day’s action to spread the word far and wide of the importance of it and of the need for direct citizen engagement in such critical issues as nuclear weapons.

Our leaders have been failing to look out for the best interests of the people, so it is up to the people to take responsibility for the future of humanity – in memory of the Hibakusha, and for the sake of the children who will inherit this world from us.

And so we remember the words of the Wall: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. Neither shall they learn war any more.” Isaiah 2:4

photo by Mark Apollo/Pacific Press

photo by Mark Apollo/Pacific Press

by Art Laffin, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Washington, D.C.

On April 28, as the United Nations sponsored Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review conference was beginning its second day, 22 peacemakers from around the U.S. were arrested in a “Shadows and Ashes” nonviolent blockade at the U.S. Mission to the UN in New York City, calling on the U.S. to abolish its nuclear arsenal and on all other nuclear weapons states to do the same. Two main entrances to the U.S. Mission were blocked before arrests were made. We sang, and held a large banner reading: “Shadows and Ashes–All That Remain,” as well as other disarmament signs. After being placed under arrest, we were taken to the 17th Precinct where we were processed and charged with “failure to obey a lawful order” and “blocking pedestrian traffic.” We were all released and given a summons to return to court on June 24, the feast of St. John the Baptist.

In participating in this nonviolent witness, organized by members of the War Resisters League, I’ve come full circle in my journey of peacemaking and nonviolent resistance. Thirty-seven years ago marked my first arrest at the same U.S. Mission during the First U.N. Special Session on Disarmament. Thirty-seven years later, I returned to the same site to call upon the U.S., the only country to have used the Bomb, to repent for the nuclear sin and to disarm.

While there have been reductions in the nuclear arsenal over the last thirty-seven years, nuclear weapons are still the centerpiece of the U.S. Empire’s war machine. Talks continue. Non-aligned and non-nuclear nations and numerous NGO’s plead with the nuclear powers to disarm, but to no avail! The nuclear danger remains ever-present. On January 22, 2015, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists turned the “Doomsday Clock” to three minutes before midnight. Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, explained: “Climate change and the danger of nuclear war pose an ever-growing threat to civilization and are bringing the world closer to doomsday…It is now three minutes to midnight…Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity…And world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe.'”

In decrying the colossal nuclear violence that imperils all life and our sacred earth, I prayed during our witness for the countless victims of the Nuclear Age, now in its 70th year, and all victims of war–past and present. I thought about the immeasurable environmental destruction that has resulted from decades of uranium mining, nuclear testing, and the production and maintenance of a lethal radioactive nuclear arsenal. I pondered the stark reality that, since 1940, some $9 trillion has been squandered to finance the U.S nuclear weapons program. And to make matters worse, the Obama Administration is proposing a projected $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize and upgrade the existing U.S. nuclear arsenal. As the public treasury has, in effect, been looted to fund the Bomb and warmaking, a massive national debt has been incurred, vitally needed social programs have been defunded and a litany of human needs go unmet. These exorbitant nuclear expenditures have directly contributed to the dramatic social and economic upheaval in our society today.Thus we see blighted cities, rampant poverty, high unemployment, lack of affordable housing, inadequate health care, underfunded schools, and a mass incarceration system.

While in police custody, I also remembered and prayed for Freddie Gray who died in such custody, as well as for the numerous Black citizens who have been killed by police across our land. I prayed for an end to police brutality against all people of color. In the name of God who calls us to love and not to kill, I pray for an end to all racial violence. I stand with all who are demanding accountability for those police officers responsible for killing Blacks and for an end to racial profiling. All Life is Sacred! No Life is Expendable! Black Lives Matter!

Yesterday afternoon, I had the great opportunity to be with some of the Hibakusha (A-Bomb survivors from Japan) as they gathered in front of the White House to collect signatures for a petition to abolish nuclear weapons. The Hibakusha have been relentless in their heroic efforts to appeal to the nuclear powers who have gathered for the NPT Review Conference at the UN, and in their travels to different places in the U.S., to plead for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. These courageous peacemakers are living reminders of the unspeakable horror of nuclear war. Their message is clear: “Humankind can’t coexist with nuclear weapons.” The voice of the Hibakusha must be heard and acted on by all people of goodwill.

Dr. King declared that in the Nuclear Age the “choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.” Now, more than ever, we need to heed Dr. King’s clarion call for nonviolence, work to eradicate what he called “the triple evils of racism, poverty and militarism,” and strive to create the Beloved Community and a disarmed world.