List of protests against the Vietnam War
Protests against the Vietnam War took place in the 1960s and 1970s. The protests were part of a movement in opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War. The majority of the protests were in the United States, but some took place around the world.
- The first protests against U.S. involvement in Vietnam were in 1945, when United States Merchant Marine sailors condemned the U.S. government for the use of U.S. merchant ships to transport European troops to "subjugate the native population" of Vietnam.
- May. Anti-Vietnam war protests in England and Australia.
- September 21. War Resisters League organizes first U.S. protest against the Vietnam War and "anti-Buddhist terrorism" by the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese regime with a demonstration at the US Mission to the UN in New York City.
- October 9. WRL among other groups turn out 300 pickets against a speaking engagement by Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City.
- March. A conference at Yale plans demonstrations on May 4.
- April 25. The Internal Protector published a pledge of draft resistance by some of these organizers.
- May 2. Hundreds of students demonstrate on New York's Times Square and from there went to the United Nations. 700 marched in San Francisco. Smaller demonstrations took place in Boston, Madison, Wisconsin and Seattle. These protests were organized by the Progressive Labor Party, with help from the Young Socialist Alliance. The May 2nd Movement was the PLP's youth affiliate.
- May 12. Twelve young men in New York publicly burn their draft cards to protest the war – the first such act of war resistance.
- Fall. Free Speech Movement at the University of California at Berkeley defends the right of students to carry out political organizing on campus. Founder: Mario Savio.
- Early August. White and black activists gathered near Philadelphia, Mississippi for the memorial service of three civil rights workers. One of the speakers bitterly spoke out against Johnson's use of force in Vietnam, comparing it to violence used against blacks in Mississippi.
- December 19. First coordinated nationwide protests against the Vietnam War included demonstrations in New York City (sponsored by War Resisters League, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Committee for Non-Violent Action, the Socialist Party of America, and the Student Peace Union and attended by 1500 people), San Francisco (1000 people), Minneapolis, Miami, Austin, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington D.C., Boston, Cleveland, and other cities.
- February 2 –March. Protests at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas organized by the RA Student Peace Union.
- February 12–16. Anti-U.S. demonstrations in various cities in the world, "including a break-in at the U.S. embassy in Budapest, Hungary, by some 200 Asian and African students."
- March 15. A debate organized by the Inter-University Committee for a Public Hearing on Vietnam is held in Washington, D.C. Radio and television coverage.
- March 16. An 82-year-old Detroit woman named Alice Herz self-immolated to make a statement against the horrors of the war. She died ten days later.
- March 24. First SDS organized teach-in, at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. 3,000 students attend and the idea spreads fast.
- March. Berkeley, California: Jerry Rubin and Stephen Smale's Vietnam Day Committee (VDC) organize a huge protest of 35,000.
- April. Oklahoma college students sent out hundreds of thousands of pamphlets with pictures of dead babies in a combat zone on them to portray a message about battles taking place in Vietnam.
- April 17. The SDS-organized March Against the Vietnam War onto Washington, D.C. was the largest anti-war demonstration in the U.S. to date with 15,000 to 20,000 people attending. Paul Potter demands a radical change of society.
- May 5. Several hundred people carrying a black coffin marched to the Berkeley, California draft board, and 40 men burned their draft cards.
- May 21–23. Vietnam Day Committee organized large teach-in at UC Berkeley. 10–30,000 attend.
- May 22. The Berkeley draft board was visited again, with 19 men burning their cards. President Lyndon B. Johnson was hung in effigy.
- Summer. Young blacks in McComb, Mississippi learn one of their classmates was killed in Vietnam and distribute a leaflet saying "No Mississippi Negroes should be fighting in Vietnam for the White man's freedom".
- June. Richard Steinke, a West Point graduate in Vietnam, refused to board an aircraft taking him to a remote Vietnamese village, stating the war "is not worth a single American life".
- June 27. End Your Silence, an open letter in the New York Times by the group Artists and Writers Protest against the War in Vietnam.
- July. The Vietnam Day Committee organized militant protest in Oakland, California ends in inglorious debacle, when the organizers end the march from Oakland to Berkeley to avoid a confrontation with police.
- July. A Women Strike for Peace- delegation led by Cora Weiss meets its North Vietnamese and Vietcong counterpart in Jakarta, Indonesia.
- July 30. A man from the Catholic Worker Movement is photographed burning his draft card on Whitehall Street in Manhattan in front of the Armed Forces Induction Center. His photograph appears in Life magazine in August.
- October 15. David J. Miller burned his draft card at a rally again held near the Armed Forces Induction Center on Whitehall Street. The 24-year-old pacifist, member of the Catholic Worker Movement, became the first man arrested and convicted under the 1965 amendment to the Selective Service Act of 1948.
- October 15–16.
- Europe, October 15–16. First "International Days of Protest". Anti-U.S. demonstrations in London, Rome, Brussels, Copenhagen and Stockholm.
- October 20. Stephen Lynn Smith, a student at the University of Iowa, spoke to a rally at the Memorial Union in Iowa City, Iowa, and burned his draft card. He was arrested, found guilty and put on three years probation.
- October 30. Pro-Vietnam War march in New York City brings 25,000.
- November 2. In front of the Pentagon in Washington, as thousands of employees were streaming out of the building in the late afternoon, Norman Morrison, a thirty-two-year-old pacifist, father of three, stood below the third-floor windows of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, doused himself with kerosene, and set himself afire, giving up his life in protest against the war.
- November 6. Thomas C. Cornell, Marc Paul Edelman, Roy Lisker, David McReynolds and James Wilson burned their draft cards at a public rally organized by the Committee for Non-Violent Action in Union Square, New York City.
- November 27. SANE-sponsored March on Washington in 1965. 15,000 to 20,000 demonstrators.
- December 16–17. High school students in Des Moines, Iowa, are suspended for wearing black armbands to "mourn the deaths on both sides" and in support of Robert F. Kennedy's call for a Christmas truce. The students sued the Des Moines School District, resulting in the 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of the students, Tinker v. Des Moines.
- From September 1965 to January 1970, 170,000 men had been drafted and another 180,000 enlisted. By January, 2,000,000 men had secured college deferments.
- February. Local artists in Hollywood build a 60-foot tower of protest on Sunset Boulevard.
- March 25–26. Second "Days of International Protest". Organized by the National Coordinating Committee to End the War in Vietnam, led by SANE, Women Strike for Peace, the Committee for Nonviolent Action and the SDS: 20,000 to 25,000 in New York alone, demonstrations also in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Oklahoma City. Abroad, in Ottawa, London, Oslo, Stockholm, Lyon, and Tokyo.
- March 31. David Paul O'Brien and three companions burned their draft cards on the steps of the South Boston Courthouse. The case was tried by the Supreme Court in United States v. O'Brien.
- Spring. Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam founded.
- May 15. March Against the Vietnam War, led by SANE and Women Strike for Peace, with 8,000 to 10,000 taking part.
- Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) refused to go to war, famously stating that he had "no quarrel with the Viet Cong" and that "no Viet Cong ever called me nigger." Ali also stated he would not go "10,000 miles to help murder, kill, and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people." In 1967 he was sentenced to 5 years in prison, but was released on appeal by the United States Supreme Court.
- Summer. Six members of the SNCC invade an induction center in Atlanta and are later arrested.
- July 3. Crowd of over 4,000 demonstrate outside of the US Embassy in London. Scuffles break out between the protesters and police, and at least 31 people are arrested.
- September 10–11. First national antiwar Mobilization Committee established as the November 8 Mobilization Committee.
- November 7. Protests against Secretary McNamara at Harvard University.
- November 26. The November 8 Mobilization Committee becomes the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, formalized at the Cleveland Conference. National director is Reverend James Bevel.
- Late December. Student Mobilization Committee formed.
- January 29 – February 5. Angry Arts Week by the Artists Protest group.
- April 4. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks at Riverside church in New York about the war: "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence". King stated that "somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours."
- April 15. At Sheep Meadow, Central Park, New York City, some 60 young men including a few students from Cornell University came together to burn their draft cards in a Maxwell House coffee can. More join them, including uniformed Green Beret Army Reservist Gary Rader. As many as 158 cards are burned.
- April 15. Spring Mobe protests in New York City (300,000) and in San Francisco.
- May 20–21. 700 activists at the Spring Mobilization Conference, Washington, D.C. The Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam becomes the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (the Mobe).
- Stockholm, Sweden (May) and Roskilde, Denmark (November_. International War Crimes Tribunal (Russell Tribunal) unanimously finds the US government and its armed forces "guilty of the deliberate, systematic and large-scale bombardment of civilian targets, including civilian populations, dwellings, villages, dams, dikes, medical establishments, leper colonies, schools, churches, pagodas, historical and cultural monuments".
- June 1. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War is formed. Veteran Jan Barry Crumb participated in a protest on April 7 called the "Fifth Avenue Peace Parade" in New York City. On May 30 Crumb and ten like-minded men attended a peace demonstration in Washington, D.C.
- June 23. The Bond, the first G.I. underground paper established.
- June 23. 1,300 police attack 10,000 peace marchers at The Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, where President Lyndon B. Johnson was being honored.
- In the summer of 1967, Neil Armstrong and various other NASA officials began a tour of South America to raise awareness for space travel. According to First Man, a biography of Armstrong's life, during the tour several South American college students protested the astronaut, and shouted such phrases as "Murderers get out of Vietnam!" and other anti-Vietnam War messages.
- October 16. A day of widespread war protest organized by The Mobe in 30 cities across the U.S., with some 1,400 draft cards burned.
- October 18. "Dow Day", University of Wisconsin–Madison. This was the first university Vietnam War protest to turn violent. Thousands of students protested Dow Chemical (maker of napalm) recruiting on campus. Nineteen police officers and about 50 students were treated for injuries at hospitals.
- October 20. Resist leaders present draft cards to the Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. .
- October 21–23. National Mobe organized the March on the Pentagon to "Confront the War Makers". 100,000 are at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington DC, 35,000 (or up to 50,000?) go on to the Pentagon, some to engage in acts of civil disobedience. Norman Mailer's book The Armies of the Night describes the event.
- October 27. Father Philip Berrigan, a Josephite priest and World War II veteran, led a group now known as the Baltimore Four who went to a draft board in Baltimore, Maryland, drenched the draft records with blood, and waited to be arrested.
- December 4. National draft card turn-in. At San Francisco's Phillip Burton Federal Building, some 500 protesters witnessed 88 draft cards collected and burned.
- December 4–8. Stop the Draft Week demonstrations in New York. 585 arrested, amongst them Benjamin Spock.
- Sweden, December 20. Seventh Year of the Viet Cong (the Front National de Libération du Vietnam du Sud, or FNL) celebrated with violent clashes in Stockholm. Demonstrations in forty Swedish towns.
- Peace Corps volunteers in Chile spoke out against the war. 92 volunteers defied the Peace Corps director and issued a circular denouncing the war.
- January. Singer Eartha Kitt, while at a luncheon at the White House, spoke out against the war and its effects on the youth, exclaiming, "you send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed," to her fellow guests. "They rebel in the street. They will take pot...and they will get high. They don't want to go to school because they're going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam."
- January 15. Jeannette Rankin leads a demonstration of thousands of women in Washington, D.C. .
- London, Sunday, March 17. Violent protest in London (street occupation), not supported by the Old Left. Over 300 arrests.
- Frankfurt, Germany, April 2. Gudrun Ensslin and Andreas Baader, joined by Thorwald Proll and Horst Söhnlein, set fire to two department stores.
- April 3. National draft-card turn-in. About 1,000 draft cards were turned in. In Boston, 15,000 protesters watched 235 men turn in their draft cards.
- April 4. Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. silences one of the leading voices against the war.
- Late April. Student Mobe sponsored national student strike, demonstrations in New York and San Francisco.
- April–May. Protesters occupy five buildings at Columbia University. Future leading Weather Underground member Mark Rudd gains prominence.
- Berlin, Germany, April 11. Rudi Dutschke shot and wounded. Massive riots against Axel Springer publishers.
- May. FBI's COINTELPRO campaign launched against the New Left.
- May. Agricultural Building at Southern Illinois University (SIU) bombed.
- May 1. Boston University graduate Philip Supina wrote to his draft board in Tucson, Arizona, that he had "absolutely no intention to report for [his] exam, or for induction, or to aid in any way the American war effort against the people of Vietnam."
- May 17. Philip Berrigan and his brother, Daniel, led seven others into a draft board office in Catonsville, Maryland, removed records, and set them afire with homemade napalm outside in front of reporters and onlookers.
- June 4–5. The hope of the antiwar movement, presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, is shot after celebrating victory in the California primary. He dies the next morning, June 6.
- Late June. Student Mobe ruptures.
- August 28. Democratic National Convention in Chicago protests, "The whole world is watching". Police Violence.
- October 14, 1968. Presidio mutiny sit-down protest carried out by 27 military prisoners at the U.S. Army's Presidio stockade in San Francisco, California.
- October 21. In Japan, a group of 290,000 activists occupied the Shinjuku Station, protesting an earlier incident in August 1967 where a JNR freight train hauling kerosene to the Tachikawa Airbase collided with another train and exploded. The activists managed to disrupt all railway traffic at the station and led to clashes with riot police and acts of vandalism; it was the largest anti-war protest in Japan at the time.
- November 14. National draft-card turn-in.
- The whole year major campus protests take place across the country.
- January 19–20. Protests against Richard Nixon's inauguration.
- March 22. Nine protesters smashed glass, hurled files out a fourth floor window, and poured blood on files and furniture at the Dow Chemical offices in Washington, D.C.
- March 29. Conspiracy charges against eight suspected organizers of the Chicago Convention protests.
- April 5–6. Antiwar demonstrations and parades in several cities, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and others.
- May 21. Silver Spring Three Les Bayless, John Bayless, and Michael Bransome walked into a Silver Spring, Maryland Selective Service office where they destroyed several hundred draft records to protest the war.
- June. At the Brown University commencement, two-thirds of the graduating class turned their backs when Henry Kissinger stood up to address them.
- June 8. The Old Main building at SIU burns to the ground. Units of firefighters from all over the area tried to salvage the building but could not put out the fire before everything was destroyed.
- June. Chicago. SDS national convention. The SDS disintegrates into SDS-WSA and SDS. The Worker Student Alliance of the Progressive Labor Party (PLP) has the majority of delegates (900) on its side. The smaller Revolutionary Youth Movement fraction (500) divide into RYM-I/Weatherman, who retained control of the SDS National Office, and maoist RYM-II. This fraction will further divide into the various groups of New Communist Movement.
- July 4–5. Cleveland: national antiwar conference established National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam.
- October 8–11. Weatherman's disastrous "Days of Rage" in Chicago. Only 300 militants show up, not the expected 10,000. 287 will be arrested.
- October 15. National Moratorium against the War demonstrations. Huge crowds in Washington and in Boston (100,000). Anti-war Senator George McGovern gave a speech to the large crowd in Boston.
- November 15. The Mobe's Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam mobilizes 500,000. "March against Death", Washington, D.C.
- November 15. San Francisco.[clarification needed]
- November 26. Selective Service System (draft-lottery) bill signed.
- December 1. The Selective Service System of the United States conducted two lotteries
- December 7. The 5th Dimension performs their song "Declaration" on the Ed Sullivan Show. Consisting of the opening of the Declaration of Independence (through "for their future security"), it suggests that the right and duty of revolting against a despotic government is still relevant.
- February, March. Wave of bombings across the US.
- March. Antidraft protests across the US.
- March 14. SS Columbia Eagle incident: Two American merchant marine sailors, Clyde McKay and Alvin Glatkowski, seized the SS Columbia Eagle and forced the master to sail in to Cambodia as opposed to Thailand, where it was on its way to deliver napalm bombs to be used by the US Air Force in Vietnam.
- March 30: About 100 people protest in Albany, New York against the draft.
- April. New Mobe, Moratorium, and SMC protests across the country.
- April 15, 1970 Nationwide marches and rallies across the country.
- April 19: Moratorium announces disbanding.
- May 2: violent anti-war rallies at many universities.
- Kent State University, Ohio, May 4: Kent State Shootings: U.S. National Guard kill four young people during a demonstration. As a result, four million students go on strike at more than 450 universities and colleges. The best-known cultural response to the deaths at Kent State was the protest song "Ohio", written by Neil Young for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
- May 8, New York. Hard Hat Riot: after a student anti-war demonstration, workers attack them and riot for two hours.
- May 8. Jim Cairns, a member of the Australian parliament, led over 100,000 people in a demonstration in Melbourne. Smaller protests were also held on the same day in every state capital of Australia.
- May 9. Mobe sponsored "Kent State/Cambodia Incursion Protest, Washington, D.C." between 75,000 and 100,000 demonstrators converged on Washington, D.C. to protest the Kent State shootings and the Nixon administration's incursion into Cambodia. Even though the demonstration was quickly put together, protesters were still able to bring out thousands to march in the National Mall in front of the Capitol. It was an almost spontaneous response to the events of the previous week. Police ringed the White House with buses to block the demonstrators from getting too close to the executive mansion. Early in the morning before the march, Nixon met with protesters briefly at the Lincoln Memorial.
- May 14, Jackson State College. Jackson State killings: Two dead and twelve injured during violent protests.
- May 20, New York. An estimated 60,000 to 150,000 are at a pro-war demonstration on Wall Street.
- May 28, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennesse. Nixon at Billy Graham Crusade in Neyland Stadium. 800 students carry "Thou Shalt Not Kill" signs into the stadium. Many are arrested and charged with "disrupting a religious service" with only Republican candidates on the stage with Graham and Nixon.
- June. Before a commencement at the University of Massachusetts, students stenciled red fists of protests, white peace symbols, and blue doves onto their black gowns.
- University of Wisconsin–Madison, August 24. Sterling Hall bombing: aimed at the Army Math Research Center on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors of the building, in missing its target, a Ford van packed with explosives hit the physics laboratory on the first floor and killed young researcher Robert Fassnacht and seriously injured another person.
- August 29, Chicano Moratorium. 20–30,000 Mexican-Americans participated in the largest antiwar demonstration in Los Angeles. Police are attacked with clubs and guns and kill three people, including Rubén Salazar, a TV news director and LA Times reporter.
- March 1. Weathermen plants a bomb in the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., causing $300,000 in damage, but no casualties.
- April. The Vancouver Indo-Chinese Women's Conference (VICWC), a six-day protest, gathers close to a thousand women in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
- April 19–23. Vietnam Veterans against the War (VVAW) stages operation "Dewey Canyon III". 1,000 camping on the National Mall.
- April 22–28. Veterans Against the War (and John Kerry) testify before various congressional panels.
- April 24. Peaceful "Vietnam War Out Now" rally on the National Mall, Washington, D.C., with 200,000-500,000 calling for an end to the Vietnam War, 156,000 participate in the largest demonstration so far on the West Coast, in San Francisco.
- April 26. More militant attempts in Washington, D.C. to shut down the government are futile against 5,000 police and 12,000 troops.
- May 3–5, May Day Protests. Planned by Rennie Davis and Jerry Coffin of the War Resisters League, later joined by Michael Lerner; militant mass-action tries to shut down the government in Washington, D.C. 12,614 arrested, a record in American history.
- August. A group of nuns, priests, and laypeople raid a draft board in Camden, New Jersey. They came to be known as the Camden 28.
- December. VVAW protests across the US.
- April 15–20. May. New waves of protests across the country.
- April 17. Militant anti-ROTC demonstration at the University of Maryland. 800 National Guardsmen are ordered onto the campus.
- April 22. Mass antiwar demonstrations sponsored by National Peace Action Coalition, People's Coalition for Peace and Justice, and other organizations attracted an estimated 100,000 people in New York and 12,000 in Los Angeles, 25,000 in San Francisco and other cities around the US and the world.
- Frankfurt am Main, Germany, May 11. Headquarters of the V Corps of the U.S. Army at the IG Farben Building: The Commando Petra Schelm of the Rote Armee Fraktion killed U.S. Officer Paul Bloomquist and wounded thirteen in a bombing attack.
- May 21. "Emergency March" on Washington, D.C., organized by the National Peace Action Coalition and the People's Coalition for Peace and Justice. 8 to 15,000 protest in Washington, D.C. against the increased bombing of North Vietnam and the mining of its harbors.
- Heidelberg, Germany, May 24. The Red Army Faction detonates two car bombs at the European Headquarters of the US Army, killing three.
- June 22. "Ring around Congress" demonstration, Washington, D.C.
- In July. Jane Fonda visits North Vietnam and speaks on Hanoi Radio, earning herself the nickname "Hanoi Jane".
- August 22. 3,000 protest against the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach. Ron Kovic, a wheelchair-bound Vietnam veteran, led fellow veterans into the Convention Hall, wheeled down the aisles, and as Nixon began his acceptance speech shouted, "Stop the bombing! Stop the war!"
- October 14. The "Peace March to End the Vietnam War" was held in San Francisco. This "silent-march" demonstration began at City Hall and moved down Fulton Street to Golden Gate Park, where speeches were given. Over 2,000 were in attendance. Numerous groups (including many veterans) marched to support the so-called "7-Point" plan to peace. George McGovern had given a speech at the Cow Palace the night before, which energized the Saturday morning event.
- November 7. General election day. President Nixon defeats George McGovern in a landslide election victory, with 60.7% popular votes and 520 electoral votes.
- December. Protests against Hanoi and Haiphong bombings.
- January 20. Second inauguration of Richard Nixon. Inauguration protests, "March against Racism & the War" in Washington, D.C.
Common slogans and chants
- "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" was chanted during LBJ's tenure as president and almost anytime he appeared publicly.
- "Love our country", "America, love it or leave it", and "No glory like old glory" are examples of pro-war slogans.
- List of songs about the Vietnam War
- Anti-nuclear protests in the United States
- Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War
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