News Release

50 Years After Catonsville: “Resistance Needed to End Empire”


The Catonsville Nine were nine activists affiliated with the Catholic Worker movement who burned draft files to protest the Vietnam War. On May 17, 1968, they went to the draft board in Catonsville, Maryland, took hundreds of draft files, brought them to the parking lot, pour homemade napalm on them (an incendiary used extensively by the U.S. military in Vietnam), and set them on fire. Hundreds of similar actions followed across the country the following years. The draft ended in 1973. See website with ongoing commemorative events — — and recent pieces in the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun. See trailer of film about the Catonsville Nine: “Hit and Stay.”

The Catonsville Nine included Daniel Berrigan and Philip Berrigan, both deceased. The widow of Philip, Elizabeth McAlister, has been in prison since last month, one of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 — see “Seven Catholic plowshares activists entered Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia on April 4, 2018. They went to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to ‘beat swords into plowshares.’

“The seven chose to act on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who devoted his life to addressing what he called the ‘triple evils of militarism, racism and materialism.’ Carrying hammers and baby bottles of their own blood, the seven attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction. They hoped to call attention to the ways in which nuclear weapons kill every day, by their mere existence and maintenance.

“Kings Bay Naval base opened in 1979 as the Navy’s Atlantic Ocean Trident port.  It is the largest nuclear submarine base in the world.”

ELLEN GRADY, demottgrady6 at
Also via Jessica Stewart, Paul Magno: kingsbayplowshares at
MARY ANNE GRADY FLORES, gradyflores08 at
    Ellen and Mary Anne Grady are part of the Ithaca, New York Catholic Worker movement. Ellen spoke at the opening event commemorating the Catonsville Nine earlier this month in Maryland. Their sister, Clare Grady, is one of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, currently imprisoned.

She said today: “Clare is a mother of two daughters. Her husband Paul works for the local community kitchen. She and the other activists are facing four charges, including most dangerously, conspiracy. They’ve been in jail for six weeks with no bail. And they’ve all been separated now. They have a hearing Thursday.” See recent piece on the action in the National Catholic Reporter.

“The best we can do is to encourage each other to muster the resistance needed to end empire. Nuclear weapons threaten us with omnicide, but that’s only part of it. Nuclear weapons kill every day by their mere existence — we see the billions of dollars it takes to build and maintain the Trident system as stolen resources.”

“And the U.S. government’s ongoing airwars, like lethal and illegal use of MQ9 Reaper drones over Afghanistan and elsewhere is another continual killing many are blind to.” They have all been arrested at protests against killer drones at the Hancock Air National Guard Base in New York, see: Also see the The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s page on drone warfare.

In Baltimore:

See website for Jonah House.

Bickham and Walsh run the Viva House in Baltimore, which they founded shortly before the Catonsville Nine action and provided support for that action 50 years ago. See piece in America magazine.

MAX OBUSZEWSKI, mobuszewski2001 at
Obuszewski is with the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, which has been involved in the Catonsville Nine commemorations and organizing recent protests at the headquarters of the National Security Agency nearby.