Good Friday and Easter arrests at the Nevada Test Site, Livermore Labs, Pentagon and 10 Downing Street, London

Easter, 2011 blockade of the Nevada Test Site. Photo courtesy NDE


Easter Sunday Service Ends in 16 Arrests at Nuclear Test Site

At 12 noon on April 24, 2011, 38 people gathered near the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). The group held interfaith prayers and then eight women and eight men were arrested for alleged trespassing onto the NNSS. The prayer-action included local members of the Western Shoshone National Council, Buddhist Nipponzan Myohoji monks from Washington state and Catholic Workers from Nevada. Other demonstrators came from Arizona, California, Illinois, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Wisconsin, The Netherlands, and Japan.

The Easter services were the climax of a 60-mile walk from Las Vegas to Mercury along US Highway 95. The annual pilgrimage is the interfaith “Sacred Peace Walk”, which included a musical ritual at the NNSS.

The demonstrators include members of Nevada Desert Experience (NDE) and Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service, including Fr. Jerry Zawada, who celebrated Mass at less than half an hour prior to the ritual line crossing. NDE is an interfaith group based in Las Vegas which resists nuclear weapons and war.

The prayer-action focused on stopping the flow of money into nuclear weapons development, protecting the Nevada desert, and protecting all people from nuclear disasters, such as the recent one ongoing in Fukushima, Japan and the Chernobyl accident which occurred on April 26, 1986. One of the demonstrators from the Netherlands, Annabelle Parker, said, “It’s a terrible crime that the US government has committed by stealing and contaminating this beautiful land from Western Shoshone people. I found this week’s Sacred Peace Walk to be a very strong spiritual action—I felt very much connected to the earth and everyone else.”

Another demonstrator, Iris Wolfe from Arizona, went further, “We must also consider the powerful effect of nuclear radiation on the earth and her capacity to support life including ladybugs, bees, earthworms and others. We are wholly dependent and cannot survive without the interaction of all life forms together.”


Thirty-three activists were arrested after holding a Stations of the Cross ceremony on Good Friday, April 22 at Livermore Labs in Livermore, California.  The group participated in an Elm dance at the gate of the labs before the 33 men and women stepped across the line.

Livermore Labs is one of two sites that has designed every nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal.  In 2007, Livermore Labs was chosen to develop the first in a series of new U.S. nuclear weapons, under the so-called “Reliable Replacement Warhead” program.  About 85% of all U.S. Department of Energy funding at Livermore Labs is for nuclear weapons activities.


Three Catholic Worker activists were arrested after they breached the security gate at the entrance of 10 Downing St. in London, the home of the UK Prime Minister, in a “Free Bradley Manning” protest. The three arrested were Steve Jacobs of Columbia, Missouri, Frank Cordaro of Des Moines, Iowa (both visiting from the U.S.) and Ciaron O’Reilly of London.

The witness concluded the annual Good Friday Stations of the Cross organized by the London Catholic Worker, the London Catholic Worker Farm and the Oxford Catholic Worker.

Starting with the first station at 10 Downing Street,  a procession of 20 people moved to the Ministry of Defense building, the Dept. of Energy and Climate Change offices, the arms dealer Matra BAE Dynamics Alenia headquarters, the Foreign Office, the Parliament, the Milbank – home of the Committees on Arms Export Controls, the Security Service MI-5 building, a Home Office building – responsible for  immigration control, former headquarter offices of Lockheed Martin – arms manufacture, the headquarters of Qinetiq – a British global defense technology company, offices of Rolls Royce – its military contract branch, the Defense and Security Organization offices, the Treasury Office and ending back at 10 Downing St.

When the group returned to 10 Downing Street. Ciaron O’Reilly made his way to the front of the crowd of  tourists, close to the security gate. Frank Cordaro and Steve Jacobs followed close behind.  At the same time a London police security officer opened the security gate to let a car out of the Prime Minister’s compound. That was all Ciaron, Frank and Steve needed to slip past and set up their protest inside the security space separating the public and the Prime Minister’s compound.

What followed was a 40 minute stand off between the London police and the three men. The time was not wasted. As soon as it was clear that the police were not going to remove them immediately, Ciaron started doing what he is known best for – “Soap Box” speaking. As hundreds of tourists made their way past the site, Ciaron started to inform them of why they were holding the protest to free Bradley Manning. When he stopped, Frank and Steve stepped in to fill in with the public education moment, with help from others as well.

Throughout the stand off, police officers tried to negotiate with Frank, Steve and Ciaron to remove themselves from the site, informing them that they were illegally occupying space that could get them arrested and taken off to jail. All three told the officers that they were perfectly aware of the possibility of arrest and jail and that despite this they were not going to remove themselves voluntarily.

Armed police then showed up, followed by a couple of vans of riot police.  The men were taken across the street, questioned and released – no charges as yet have been made.


Holy Week Faith and Resistance Retreat in Washington, D.C.

by Art Laffin

Over 40 people gathered in Washington, D.C. to participate in the annual Holy Week Faith and Resistance retreat sponsored by Jonah House and the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker. Those attending the retreat included members from the New Jerusalem Community in Philadelphia, students from Loras College in Iowa, and peacemakers from around the northeast. The retreat also included a Tenebrae service, a talk by Sr. Margaret McKenna about what it means to put away the sword and follow Jesus’ way of nonviolence, and a Holy Thursday liturgy.

There were also acts of nonviolent witness at the White House and Pentagon. At each site eight contemporary crucifixions were enacted with people literally hanging from a cross. (Below is the script for each crucifixion). On Good Friday morning, April 22, Bill Frankel-Streit, Sr. Margaret McKenna, Brian Hynes and Rosemary Thompson were arrested at the Pentagon as they held a banner and read a leaflet outside the designated “protest zone.”  They were charged with “failure to obey a lawful order” and given a July 22 trial date.

Script Used for Eight Crucified Victims at White House and Pentagon on Holy Thursday and Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate the Crucifixion and death of Jesus. Today, vast numbers of God’s global family experience a modern form of crucifixion as they are crucified to a cross of war, militarism, and economic exploitation. In the crucified people of our world we see the crucified face of Jesus. Today, we remember the victims who have been and continue to be crucified and deemed expendable, and call for an immediate end to their crucifixion.

crucified person #1–Iraq war victim

The US has been at war with Iraq since 1991. We pray for the over 2 millions Iraqis who have died during these last 20 years–crucified to a cross of bombings, sanctions, invasion and occupation. We repent for destroying an entire society and traumatizing a generation of Iraqis. We pray for the countless millions injured and the over 4 million displaced.  We pray and work for an immediate end to the immoral and illegal US occupation of Iraq and that the US make reparations to the Iraqi people.

crucified person #2–Afghanistan war victim

Since the US began its criminal military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, thousands of Afghan civilians have suffered and died. We pray for all those Afghans who have been, and continue to be, crucified to a cross of ruthless US military occupation. This occupation has included the use of secret US military “kill teams.” Former Afghan Parliamentarian, Milalai Joya, writes: “The ‘kill team’ images will come as a shock to many outside Afghanistan but not to us. We have seen countless incidents of American and NATO forces killing innocent people like birds. For instance, they recently killed nine children on March 1 in Kunar Province who were collecting firewood. In February this year they killed 65 innocent villagers, most of them women and children.” We repent for the sin of US warmaking. We pray and work for an immediate end to the immoral and illegal US war in Afghanistan and that reparations be made to the people of Afghanistan.

crucified person #3–Pakistan Drone bombing victim

The newest warplane of choice being used by the US military in its wars against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), commonly known as Drones. These pilotless warplanes, which are controlled from thousands of miles away, are now being used extensively in Pakistan. We pray for all the innocents who have been, and continue to be, killed by this murderous weapon. A new study estimates U.S. drone strikes killed 957 people in Pakistan last year. We pray and work for the abolition of Drones and all weapons of death.

crucified person #4–Victim of Militarism and Nuclearism

We remember all victims who have died and continue to suffer from the US use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We remember all victims of nuclear testing who have suffered and died due to the radiation fallout from these tests, including in the South Pacific, US soldiers who were exposed to nuclear tests, and people living downwind from nuclear weapons facilities and the Nevada test site. We remember all victims who have suffered and died from exposure to highly radioactive depleted uranium weapons from Iraq to Libya. We remember all victims of US military intervention–from Vietnam to Central America, Vieques, former Yugoslavia, Columbia, Haiti and elsewhere. We pray for the people of Japan and everyone and everything that will be effected due to radiation exposures from damaged nuclear reactors. As the FY 2012 military budget and related national security, intelligence and space militarization appropriations approach $1 trillion, we remember all peoples who are deprived the basic necessities of life due to exorbitant military expenditures. We pray for all people–past and present–who have been, and continue to be, crucified to the cross of militarism and nuclearism. We pray and work for the abolition of nuclear weapons and all weapons, and for an end to all forms of militarism worldwide.

crucified person #5–Victim of economic exploitation starving to death

The US is only about 5 percent of the world’s population and yet it consumes over 25 percent of the world’s energy and 30 percent of the world’s material resources. We remember all people who have been, and continue to be, sacrificed at the altar of greed, oppression and economic exploitation. We remember all people who have died early deaths from malnutrition and dire poverty. We pray and work for an end to structures and policies which dominate, exploit and crucify people to a cross of dehumanizing poverty and neglect.

crucified person #6–Torture victim (dressed as GITMO prisoner)

Jesus was a torture victim who was condemned by religious authorities and executed by the Roman empire. We remember all torture victims, past and present, who have suffered and died from the effects of torture. We remember the over 100 prisoners who, since 2001, died at secret US military black sites, as well as the seven prisoners who died at the US military prison in Guantanamo. We pray and work for the abolition of torture worldwide, and for the immediate closing of Guantanamo, Bagram, the SOA/WHINSEC and all military torture and training centers. Read Sr. Diana’s prayer.

crucified person #7–Nonviolent revolutionary victim

We turn our sights this Holy Week to the Middle East. In Tunisia, young Mohamed Bouazzi set himself on fire, unable to face the rejection of his license for his vending employment. This death sparked a domino effect of revolutions in surrounding countries to break their shackles of oppression. We hold the dead and wounded
people of Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, etc.  These nonviolent resisters marched, demonstrated, occupied the streets and squares in order to free themselves from police repression, censorship, unemployment, and violence and were met with violent attacks. We remember all of the people of these nations and repent for U.S. funding of any of the guns, bombs, and materials used to prop up their abusive dictators.  May all that has been stolen from these sisters and brothers be restored.  May the crucified be witnesses of peace.

crucified person #8–Imprisoned victim

We picture before us the imprisoned Jesus – arrested, tortured, stripped, crowned with thorns, mocked and crucified. We remember today all imprisoned political prisoners, all who are held in gulags throughout the world.  We name the following victims:
Bradley Manning – whistleblower and truth revealer of U.S. war crimes, held and injured in solitary confinement.  He faces 22 counts and a life sentence. We remember The Disarm Now Plowshares, sentenced on March 28th for their “swords into plowshares” action at Bangor Base for disarmament of the Trident submarines and given prison sentences ranging from 2-15 months. We lift up Fr. Steve Kelly, Susan Crane, Fr. Bill Bichsel, Sr. Anne Montgomery and Lynne Greenwald. We give gratitude to Helen Woodson who is spending her 27th year in prison for her convictions of the immorality and illegality of nuclear weapons and wars.

We lift up Fr. Louie Vitale, Michael David Omondi, Chris Spicer and Nancy Smith, incarcerated for nonviolent civil resistance at the School of Assassins/Whinsec in Georgia.  We remember Frank Donnelly and Carl Steward for their war tax resistance, along with Leonard Peltier, Mumia Jamal, Rafil Dhafir and Norman Edgar Lowry, Jr. and many other innocent victims in prisons. May their release from captivity come!