The Catonsville Nine

Several months before the 1968 Democratic National Convention riots that erupted in the clamoring city of Chicago there occurred a ‘quieter’ protest in the sleepy suburb of Catonsville, Maryland.

On May 17th, 1968, nine impeccably dressed Catholic peace activists carrying two tall wire baskets entered a Selective Service Local Board and destroyed 378 draft files. These files were important to the government office, as they were 1-Alpha records which correlated to men immediately available for unrestricted military service. The two women of the group and former missionaries to Uganda and Guatemala distracted the employees while the men including priests carried the baskets brimming with files to the rear of the building whereby they set fire to the documents with homemade napalm.

There were reporters and a cameraman present, presumably forewarned by the activists themselves, and after the nine said a prayer in unison, they proceeded to address the press of which was all caught on film. When the police arrived, the Catonsville Nine went peacefully, having accomplished a unanimous goal that made nearly all forms of media headlines in the coming days.

About Hudson Saffell (36 Articles)
Freelance Writer / Editor

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