30th Anniversary of Mass Arrests at Seabrook, NH, Anti-Nuclear Rally

On May 30, 1977, 2,400 people descended on the town of Seabrook, New Hampshire, to protest the building of a nuclear power station. A day later, more than half of them would be arrested.

On April 30th, 1977, a rag tag army of 2,400 people descended, marching and singing, on Seabrook, New Hampshire, to protest the building of a new nuclear power station. Inspired by the civil rights movement and mentored by the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group, the "Clamshell Alliance," a small group of local activists, had trained the crowd to express their collective frustration with the powerful nuclear lobby. The tactic was non-violent civil disobedience. A "Village Square" was established on the grounds of the plant to encourage education, discussion, and resistance to the nuclear industry. A legislative assembly was formed and passed ordinances banning nuclear power and the transportation of waste "in town's limits." Toilets were installed, tents pitched, and by 10 pm, respecting their self-imposed curfew, the Clams went to sleep. The Clamshell had structured the crowd into "affinity groups," wherein a dozen individuals who knew each other provided needed support to one another at times of stress, such as when someone was arrested. And arrested they were. The next day, New Hampshire governor Meldrim Thomson ordered the occupiers to leave or be arrested, underestimating the unity and the determination of the occupying community. New Hampshire troopers, aided by forces from Vermont, Connecticut, Maine, and Rhode Island, spent twelve hours arresting 1,400 bodies gone "limp." Protestors were transported to makeshift jails. The dramatic scenes of Seabrook turned public attention to the nuclear issue and inspired countless acts of civil disobedience -- from Barnwell, SC, to Diablo Canyon, CA, as well as abroad. Many believe that the actions of this small band were directly responsible for halting the construction of new nuclear power plants in the U.S. for years into the future. Note on the photographer: Lionel Delevingne is an international photojournalist whose credits include Die Zeit, Figaro Magazine, and the New York Times. He is presently working on a book celebrating the Clamshell Alliance's legacy, entitled "To the Village Square -- Nukes, Clams, & Democracy."