50 Years Ago Today: Catonsville 9 Burned Draft Papers with Homemade Napalm to Protest Vietnam War
MAY 17, 2018
Fifty years ago today, on May 17, 1968, in the Baltimore suburb of Catonsville, Maryland, a group of Catholic priests and activists stood around a small fire, praying and singing. They had gone into the local draft board office and taken 378 draft records, for the young men in the 1-A category who were most likely to get drafted to go to war in Vietnam. They set fire to the draft records using homemade napalm, made from gasoline and laundry soap, to symbolize the U.S. military’s use of napalm on Vietnamese civilians. Video of the act of civil disobedience was seen around the world. They became known as the Catonsville Nine, and in 1970 they were given prison sentences of up to three years behind bars. We feature interviews with Fathers Phil and Daniel Berrigan, who helped organize the protest, and speak to Margarita Melville, one of the last surviving members of the Catonsville Nine, during a ceremony to mark the unveiling of a new historical marker to commemorate the action.