Philadelphia: U.S. out of Syria! Rally and march, April 7, 2017.

About a hundred demonstrators, mostly young, rallied and marched through Center City streets chanting against the bombing of Syria, Iraq, Libya and other targets of US imperialism. Handing out 1,100 fliers to bystanders and occasionally stopping for a street rally, speakers and marchers tried to undo weeks of intense lies and propaganda on mainstream news media. Response on the streets were friendly and receptive.

Photos and report by Joe Piette

so they’re really talking up this police chief about how he was One Of The Good Cops and was totally efficient and helped race relations, and then we get to this bit: “During the heated antiwar protests of the 1970s, Wilson…put his riot control teams in buses, then parked the buses close by, but out of sight of protesters. Appearances were important….”The use of violence,” he told Time in 1970, “is not the job of police officers.”

At the same time, when it was time to use force, Wilson put himself on the front lines. He made a point of being the first cop to confront protesters and, if it was necessary, to lob the first canister of tear gas.” oh wow give the guy a fuckin gold star, what a brave man throwing fuckin tear gas at freedom fighters. cop of the year, truly the #bluelivesmatter mascot

Civil disobedience, as I put it to the audience, was not the problem, despite the warnings of some that it threatened social stability, that it led to anarchy. The greatest danger, I argued, was civil obedience, the submission of individual conscience to governmental authority. Such obedience led to the horrors we saw in totalitarian states, and in liberal states it led to the public’s acceptance of war whenever the so-called democratic government decided on it…

In such a world, the rule of law maintains things as they are. Therefore, to begin the process of change, to stop a war, to establish justice, it may be necessary to break the law, to commit acts of civil disobedience, as Southern black did, as antiwar protesters did.

—  Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times

Douglas Robinson, The New York Times, 16 April 1967

Thousands of antiwar demonstrators marched through the Streets of Manhattan yesterday and then massed in front of the United Nations building to hear United States policy In Vietnam denounced.

The Police Department’s office of Community Relations said that police, off leers at the scene estimated the number of demonstrators outside the United Nations at “between 100,000 and 125,000.”

It was difficult to make any precise count because people were continually leaving and entering the rally area. It was also almost Impossible to distinguish the demonstrators from passersby and spectators.

On Friday the police had announced that they were preparing for a crowd of 100,000 to 400,000.

Leaders of Parade
It was the largest peace demonstration staged in New York since the Vietnam war began. It took four hours for all the marchers to leave Central Park for the United Nations Plaza.

The parade was led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Benjamin Spock, the pediatrician, and Harry Belafonte, the singer, as well as several other civil rights and religious figures, all of whom linked arms as they moved out of the park at the head of the line.

The marchers—who had poured into New York on chartered buses, trains and cars from cities as far away as Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Chicago—included housewives from Westchester, students and poets from the Lower East Side, priests and nuns, doctors, businessmen and teachers.

Chant From Youths
As they began trooping out of Central Park toward Fifth Avenue, some of the younger demonstrators chanted: “Hell no, we won’t go,“ and “Hey, Hey, L. B. J., How Many Kids Did You Kill Today.”

Most of the demonstrators, however, marched silently as they passed equally silent crowds of onlookers. At several points—notably Central Park South from the—Avenue of the Americas to Fifth Avenue—the sidewalks were swarming with onlookers. Other blocks were almost deserted.

Some of the marchers were , hit with eggs and red paint. At 47th Street and Park Avenue, several demonstrators were struck by steel rods from a building under construction. Some plastic cups filled with sand barely missed another group. There were no serious injuries.

At least five persons were arrested for disorderly conduct. Three youths were taken into custody when they tried to rush a float that depicted the Statue of Liberty.

The demonstration here and a similar One in San Francisco were sponsored by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, a loose confederation of leftwing, pacifist and moderate antiwar groups;

A few minutes before 11 AM, an hour before the parade started, about 70 young men gathered on an outcropping of rock in the southeast comer of the Sheep Meadow in Central Park to bum their draft cards. They were quickly joined by others, some of whom appeared to have decided to join in on the spot.

Hard to Check
The demonstrators said that nearly 200 cards were burned, although in the chanting, milling throng it was impossible to get an accurate count or to tell whether all the papers burned were draft cards.

Surrounded by a human chain that kept out hundreds of onlookers, the demonstrators first clustered In small groups around cigarette lighters, then sat down and passed cards up to a youth holding a flaming coffee cam Cheers and chants of “Resist, Resist,” went up as small white cards—many of which were passed hand to hand from outside the circle—caught fire.

Many of the demonstrators carried or wore daffodils and chanted “Flower Power.”

It was the first large draft-card, burning in the protests against the war in Vietnam, although groups of up to a dozen had publicly burned their cards.

Among the group yesterday was a youth in the uniform, jump boots and green beret of the Army Special Forces, whose name tag said “Rader.” He identified himself as Gary Rader of Evanston, Ill., and said he had served a year and a half of active duty as a reservist.

Like the rest of the demonstrators, the card burners were a mixed group. Most were of college age, and Included bearded, button-wearing hippies, earnest students in tweed coats and ties, and youths who fitted in neither category.

There were a number of girls who burned half of their husband’s or boy friend’s draft cards while the men burned the other half. Among the burners were a sprinkling of older men, including several veterans and the Rev. Thomas Hayes of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship.

Last week the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held unconstitutional a law passed in 1965 banning draft-card burning under pain of a maximum 5-year sentence and a $10,000; fine; Two convictions under the law, however, have been upheld by United States Courts of Appeals in the Second and Eighth Circuits.

Vietcong Flags Raised
In his speech at the United Nations rally, Dr. King repeatedly called on the United States to “honor its word0 and “stop the bombing of North Vietnam.”

“I would like to urge students from colleges all over the nation to use this summer and coming summers educating and organizing communities across the nation against war,” Dr. King told the crowd.

Before making his speech, the minister and a five-man delegation presented a formal note to Dr. Ralph Bunche, Undersecretary for Special Political Affairs at the United Nations.

The note said: “We rally at the United Nations in order to affirm support of the principals of peace, universality, equal rights and self-determination of peoples embodied in the Charter and acclaimed by mankind, but violated by the United States.” The demonstrators began to assemble in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow early in the morning.

On one grassy knoll, a group calling itself the United States Committee to Aid the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam built a 40-foot high tower of black cardboard tubing. They then attached a number of Liberation Front (Vietcong) flags, of blue and red with a gold star in the center.

At 12:20 P.M., the parade stepped off from Central Park South and the Avenue of the Americas, with Dr. King and the other leaders in the vanguard. They were surrounded by a group of parade marshals who linked hands to shield them from possible violence. From the hundreds of people  lining the route of march came expressions of anger or support.

“I think it’s terrible, ” said Carl Hoffman, an engineer from Hartford, who stood at the corner where the march began.

Nearby, 20-year-old Estelle Klein, an office manager from Queens, gazed at the students, nuns, businessmen, veterans and doctors marching by and said: “I’d be out there too, but I don’t know, I just don’t think it’ll do any good.”

As the demonstrators moved east on 59th Street, they encountered bands of youths carrying American flags and hoisting placards with such slogans as “Bomb Hanoi” and “Dr. Spock Smokes Bananas.”

The bands of youths ran along the sidewalks paralleling the line of march, calling insults at the demonstrators.

Along one stretch of high-rise apartment houses on Lexington Avenue, eggs were dumped from a number of windows and many marchers had their clothes stained with red paint tossed by persons behind police barricades.

Guests Peer Out
From the windows of the Barbizon-Plaza Hotel the Plaza and the St. Moritz, guests—a few still in pajamas—peered from their rooms at the throng moving out of the park. Most of these watchers neither applauded nor heckled.

Although the demonstrators were supposed to follow a line of march set up by the police, several thousand members of the Harlem contingent broke away and marched down Seventh Avenue through Times Square.

Several fistfights broke out in Times Square between angry motorists caught in a huge traffic jam and the paraders.

At 42d Street and Second Avenue, a fight broke out between several spectators and 19-year-old Edward Katz of Manhattan. Mr. Katz said later that he was trying to get to his car with his wife and baby when “a group of anti-peace people started knocking over the baby carriage.”

By 4 P.M., the last of the marchers had moved out of Central Park, leaving it looking like at disaster area. The paths and roadways were covered with litter.

There were several floats in the parade, including one on which Pete Seeger, the folk singer, rode with a number :of children. They sang folk songs like “This Land Is Your Land” as they rolled along the line of march.

Most of the marchers carried signs that had been authorized and printed by the Spring Mobilization Committee. Among the slogans were “Stop the Bombing,0 “No Vietnamese Ever Called Me Nigger’! and, “Children Are Not Born to Burn.”

There were many unauthorized banners and placards, however. One, a bed sheet carried by three young men, bore in large black letters the words, “Ho Chi Minh is a Virgin.”

A minor scuffle between the police and the peace marchers broke out at 3 P.M. on the south side of 42d Street just west of First Avenue when some marchers tried to turn north.

Patrolmen, on foot moved into the crowd, trying to push them into line. Other policemen on horseback charged into the throng and helped turn the marchers back. Nearby, counter-demonstrators screamed: “Kill them, kill them.”

The speeches at the United Nations did not, start until after 2 P.M. While the demonstrators waited, filling the plaza from 47th to 42d Streets, they were entertained by folk singers.

An overflow crowd filled the side-streets west of First Avenue. More than 2,000 policemen were on hand at the United Nations to keep order, and to separate demonstrators from counter-demonstrators.

‘Be-in’ at the Park
A “be-in” of several thousand young men and women preceded the start of the parade. They gathered on a rock but-cropping in the southeast corner of the Sheep Meadow, dancing and singing to the music of guitars, flutes and drums.

Many of the young people had painted their faces and legs with poster paint. The sweet smell of cooking bananas hung over the group.

Unidentified demonstrators set fire to an American flag held up on a flagstaff in the park before the march began, the police said. No arrests were made in connection with the incident.

After leaving Dr. Bundle’s office at the United Nations, Dr. King told newsmen that the “demonstration was “just a beginning of a massive outpouring of concern and protest activity against this illegal and unjust war.”

The speeches ended soon after 5 P.M. when a downpour drenched the plaza, converting it into a field of soggy clothing, peeling placards and deep puddles.

The rally area was almost completely deserted by 6:30, except for crews from the Sanitation Department who were cleaning up a mountain; of debris.

Speakers at the rally, in addition to Dr. King, included Floyd McKissick, national secretary of the Congress of Racial Equality, and Stokely Carmichael, leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.

Mr. Carmichael, who spoke against background shouts of “black power,” described the United States’ presence in Vietnam as “brutal and racist,” and declared that he was against “drafting young men, particularly young black Americans.”

Mr. McKissick called for the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam and predicted that the turnout of marchers would bring “some positive, action” from Washington.

The Rev. James Bevel, who was national director of Spring Mobilization, said he would give President Johnson “one month to stop murdering those folks in Vietnam.”

“That’s all we’ll give him, one month to pull those guns^out,” Mr. Bevel said with his fists upraised. “If he doesn’t, we’ll close down New York City.” He did not elaborate.

Before leaving Central Park, Mr. Belafonte told newsmen that he was participating in the demonstration because “the war in Vietnam—like all wars—is immoral.”

Crime, race, hippies, antiwar protesters- Nixon strategists needed a way to draw all the concerns of his Silent Majority together. As Baum explains, they found their answer with drugs.
“Nixon looked at ‘his people’ and found them quaking with rage and fear: not at Vietnam, but at the…unholy amalgam of stoned hippies, braless women, homicidal Negroes, larcenous junkies, and treasonous priests. Nixon’s genius was in hammering these images together into a rhetorical sword. People steal, burn, and use drugs not because of 'root causes’…but because they are bad people. They should be punished, not coddled…
Another poll taken just weeks before the election showed the power of television: while a majority of Americans feared the country was headed toward 'anarchy’, just 28 percent felt that crime had gone up in their own communities. Most Americans felt perfectly safe walking in their own neighborhoods, but assumed most of their fellow citizens didn’t feel the same way. As he slogged through the primaries in early 1968, Nixon was well aware of this. People don’t have to experience crime firsthand to feel threatened by it, he wrote to his old friend and mentor, Dwight Eisenhower. "I have found great audience response to this (law-and-order) theme in all parts of the country, including areas like New Hampshire where there is virtually no race problem and relatively little crime.”“
Shortly before the 1968 election, Nixon called illicit drugs "the modern curse of youth, just like the plagues and epidemics of former years. And they are decimating a generation of Americans.” He wouldn’t explicitly “declare war” on drugs for another few years. But his rhetoric was already slipping into combat fatigues.
—  Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces by Radley Balko

Την γνωρίζω καλά
Αυτή την ακριβή Κυρία
Πού από καιρό έχει πάψει
Να ομολογεί την ηλικία της.

Κάθεται, στον ίδιο
Με τον δικό μου δρόμο
Στη γωνιά ακριβώς.
Απ’ τα παράθυρα της
Μπορεί να δει κάθε πρωί
Τις παιδικές φυλακές των « Πέντε Αγίων»
Το νεκροταφείο
Και, την αστυνομία πόλεως.

Το εσωτερικό του σπιτιού της, λένε,
Είναι υπέροχο
Αν και φθαρμένο λίγο
Από το Χρόνο
Από τη σκόνη
Κι από την ίδια
Πού χρόνια τώρα κάθεται
Στις ίδιες καρέκλες.

Λένε πολλά γι’ αυτήν
Μα πιο πολύ μιλούν
Για τις πολλές ερωτικές της σχέσεις
Με Στρατηγούς
Με επαγγελματίες Πολιτικούς
Με Διανοούμενους
Άλλα και με Αστυνομικούς.

Δεν υπάρχει αμφιβολία γι’ αυτό
Το μαρτυρούν άλλωστε οί εκκλησίες
Τα πολυάριθμα σχολεία
Οί φυλακές και τ’ αναμορφωτήρια
Πού γενναιόδωρα έχει χαρίσει.
Εις το Κράτος.

Το σαλόνι της είναι ανοιχτό
Για όσους δεν έχουν ασχολία
Κι αργοπεθαίνουν από πλήξη.
Κι όσοι πηγαίνουν τ’ ομολογούν
Πώς όλα είναι υπέροχα
Στο σπίτι της καλής αυτής Κυρίας…

Ιδιαίτερα το δειλινό
Στην ώρα του δείπνου
Με την ακριβή ιεροτελεστία του φαγητού
Το σπίτι γίνεται χρυσό
Ένα μνημείο ιστορικό
Με τα πορτρέτα των προγόνων της
Αγωνιστών και δολοφόνων

Με τ’ ακριβά παράσημα των «εθνικών υπηρεσιών»
Με τις περγαμηνές και τα χρυσά μαχαίρια
Με τα κεριά και τα ψηφιδωτά…
Και μες σ’ αυτά
Αισθητικοί κι ευαίσθητοι
Προσφέρουνε στους καλεσμένους

*Το ποίημα αυτό του Μάνου Χατζιδάκι είναι από το βιβλίο του «Μυθολογία και Μυθολογία Δεύτερη», Εκδόσεις Άγρα (σελ.105 – 107).


Oct. 20-21, 1967. The March on the Pentagon begins.

100,000 people arrive in Washington on Friday and convene Saturday morning at the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool on the Mall. The weather is sunny and pleasant, and so far the mood is calm. 

LBJ Library photo 7051-33, and 7051-35, public domain.