Protests against the Vietnam War
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Protests against the Vietnam War took place in the 1960s and 1970s. The protests were part of a movement in opposition to the Vietnam War and took place mainly in the United States.
- The very 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 French troops to "subjugate the native population" of Vietnam; these protesters opposed the "recolonization" of Vietnam.
- June 15. Tom Hayden writes the Port Huron Statement for the anti-communist Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The statement was a manifesto of the organization and focused on race and alienation.
- May. Anti-Vietnam war protests in England and Australia
- September 21. War Resisters League organizes first U.S. protest against Vietnam War and "anti-Buddhist terrorism" by the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese regime with a demonstration at the U.S. 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 in New York City.
- March. A conference at Yale plans demonstrations on May 2.
- April 25. The National Guardian 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 Nonviolent Action, the Socialist Party, and the Student Peace Union and attended by 1500 people), San Francisco (1000 people), Minneapolis, Miami, Austin, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Chicago, Washington, Boston, Cleveland, and other cities.
- February 2 –March. Protests at the University of 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 24. First SDS organized teach-in, at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. 3,000 students attend and the idea spreads fast.
- March 26. An 82-year-old Detroit woman named Alice Herz burned herself to death to make a statement against the horrors of the war.
- 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 15-20,000 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 Viet Nam 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 held near the Armed Forces Induction Center on Whitehall Street in Manhattan. The 24-year-old pacifist, member of the Catholic Worker Movement, became the first man arrested and convicted under the 1965 amendment to the 1948 Selective Service Act.
- October 15–16.
- Europe, October 15–16. First 'International Days of Prostest. 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 of probation.
- October 30. Pro-Vietnam War march in New York City with 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 and Roy Lisker 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- 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 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 1966, 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, 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 as 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 8-10,000 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. First national antiwar Mobilization Committee established.
- 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.
- November 7. Protests against Robert McNamara at Harvard University.
- 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. 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. Founded in November 1966 as the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. Its National director was Reverend James L. Bevel.
- May 20–21. 700 activists at the Spring Mobilization Conference, Washington, D.C. . A National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (the Mobe) is created.
- Sweden. May and November. International War Crimes Tribunal.
- June 1. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War 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 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 D.C. Mall, 35,000 (or up to 50,000?) go on to the Pentagon, some to engage in acts of civil disobedience. Norman Mailer's 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 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. Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and two comrades try to firebomb a major department store.
- 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. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated.
- Late April. Student Mobe sponsored national student strike, demonstrations in New York and San Francisco.
- April–May. Occupation of 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 assassinated 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. Violent clashes.
- 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.
- April 5–6. Antiwar demonstrations and parades in several cities, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and others.
- March 29. Conspiracy charges against eight suspected organizers of the Chicago Convention protests.
- 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. Draft-lottery bill signed.
- December 1. The Selective Service System of the United States conducted two lotteries
- February, March. Wave of bombings across the USA.
- March. Antidraft protests across the USA.
- March 14. Two American merchant marine sailors named 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.
- April. New Mobe, Moratorium and SMC protests across the country.
- April 4. A right-wing Victory March. organized by Reverend Carl McIntire calls for victory in the Vietnam War. 50,000 attend.
- 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.
- 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.
- May 9. Mobe sponsored Kent State/Cambodia Incursion Protest, Washington, D.C. 75 to 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 Capital. 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.
- June. At commencement for 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. Weatherman 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
- 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 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 USA.
- 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.
- Frankfurt am Main, Germany, May 11. Headquarters of the V Corps 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.
- 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!"
- November 7. Nixon defeats George McGovern in a landslide election victory.
- December. Protests against Hanoi and Haiphong bombings.
- January 20. 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.
- Flynn, George Q. (1993). The Draft, 1940–1973. Modern war studies. University Press of Kansas. p. 175. ISBN 0-7006-0586-X.
- WRL News, Nov-Dec 1963, p. 1.
- The Power of the People (1987), Robert Cooney & Helen Michaelowski, New Society Publishers, Philadelphia, PA, p. 182.
- Gottlieb, Sherry Gershon (1991). Hell no, we won't go!: resisting the draft during the Vietnam War. Viking. p. xix. ISBN 0-670-83935-3.
1964: May 12—Twelve students at a New York rally burn their draft cards...
- Zinn, Howard (2003). A People’s History of the United States. HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 483–501. ISBN 0061965588.
- The Power of the People (1987), Robert Cooney & Helen Michaelowski, New Society Publishers, Philadelphia, PA, p. 183.
- Robbie Lieberman: Prairie Power. University of Missouri Press, 2004.
- James H. Willbanks: Vietnam War Almanac, p. 106
- "Anti-War Political Activism". Pacifica Radio. UC Berkeley. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
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- Perlstein, Rick (2008). Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. Simon and Schuster. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-7432-4302-5.
- "368 F.2d 529 – Stephen Lynn Smith v. United States". Public Resource. Retrieved March 12, 2011.
- "384 F. 2d 115 – United States v. Edelman". Open Jurist. Retrieved March 12, 2011.
- Maier, Thomas (2003). Dr. Spock. Basic Books. pp. 278–279. ISBN 0-465-04315-1.
- Jezer, Martin (May 1967). "In Response To: We Won't Go". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved March 12, 2011.
- James Lewes: Protest and Survive: Underground G.I. Newspapers during the Vietnam War. Greenwood Publ., 2003, p. 154.
- Elmer, Jerry (2005). Felon for peace: the memoir of a Vietnam-era draft resister. Vanderbilt University Press. pp. 61–62. ISBN 0-8265-1495-2.
- burning http://thesouthern.com/news/what-happened-at-siuc-s-old-main/article_0a9e9715-7370-58c0-8a93-9e3b52c8532e.html
- Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam
- SS Columbia Eagle incident
- Chávez, John R. (1998). "The Chicano Movement on the Eastside". Eastside Landmark: A History of the East Los Angeles Community Union, 1968-1993. Stanford University Press. pp. 71–76. ISBN 0804733333. Retrieved Sep 2013.
- "Vietnam Veterans Against the War demonstrate — History.com This Day in History — 4/19/1971". History.com. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
- Britannica Online, Ronald H. Spector, "Vietnam War", retrieved 18/05/14. http://web.archive.org/web/20140518140510/http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/628478/Vietnam-War/234636/Tet-brings-the-war-home
- Guide to the Vietnam War Protest Ephemera. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.