Americans awoke to thousands of symbolic “death shadows” today on the streets and sidewalks of their cities and towns, painted on the pavement by peace activists as a stark reminder of the 40th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
The silhouettes of men, women, children and pets--representing the shadows left on the pavement by those vaporized by the nuclear blast Aug. 6, 1945--appeared mysteriously this morning, etched on pavements nationwide by bands of street painters working through the night.
In Washington, project coordinators said 152 volunteers painted more than 3,500 shadows on the streets of the nation’s capital, including several just blocks from the White House.
No one was arrested there, but across the country there were at least 93 arrests reported for the painting activity and by early afternoon another 109 people had been arrested for protests at nuclear facilities.
In Coral Gables, Fla., one group of street painters was caught by police and made to go back to each site and wash off the shadows they had painted.
‘Message Clear Forever’
The Shadow Project, which reached an estimated 250 locations worldwide, “depicted people as they might be at any time during any day,” said project coordinator Betsy Purtiz.
“Unlike the shadows of Hiroshima, these will fade in a short time. But the message they convey will be clear to us all--forever,” she said.
Elsewhere, church bells tolled and protesters gathered at nuclear facilities to mark the day 130,000 people were killed outright or doomed by the world’s entry into the Nuclear Age with the blinding burst of a U.S.-built bomb.
Andy Robinson, of Portland, Ore., a spokesman for the Performers and Artists for Nuclear Disarmament, which coordinated the event billed as the International Shadow Project, said the group had confirmed 322 “shadow projects” in 43 states and 20 countries.
Thousands of the eerie shadows were reported in Baltimore, San Diego, Miami, Los Angeles and Sacramento and in New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut.
‘No One Seemed to Object’
Artist Alan Gussow, 54, of Congers, N.Y., the project’s founder, said the goal is to “replicate the shadows of human beings left within 250 yards of Ground Zero in Hiroshima.”
Between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., the “death shadows” appeared on streets and sidewalks in Connecticut, and woodcarver G. Leslie Sweetnam of Woodstock, Conn., said that 21 people painted and that police gave them no problems.
“We explained what we were doing, and no one seemed to object at all,” Sweetnam said.
In Boston, however, up to 30 people were arrested on disorderly conduct charges. In nearby Cambridge, several sidewalk painters were taken to the police station and their names were taken, but they were not arrested.
Residents and commuters awoke to find chalk-white outlines of human bodies painted in Philadelphia, and in Pittsburgh civil disobedience demonstrations were expected at the headquarters of Rockwell International, which has contracts for nuclear weapon components.