The six day sanctuary for AWOL soldier John Michael O'Conner at the M.I.T. Student Center will end quietly this morning without the long-awaited bust.
Accepting the fact that O'Conner will eventually be arrested, resistance leaders are voluntarily leaving the Student Center to focus their protest in a different direction. They and O'Conner will begin protest discussions in M.I.T. classes today.
"The physical thing of the expected bust no longer means anything ... We've won," one leader said of the decision to leave the Center.
"I say to the FBI, 'I've already beat you,'" O'Conner said defiantly. "You can beat me physically, you can put me in that cell, but you've got to let me out sometime. Then I'm coming back here," he said.
The change will be to a more serious approach, allowing those exhausted to rest, and permitting real constructive action, Paul Chalmer, a Resistance leader said.
"To voluntarily relinquish the circus atmosphere is ... more mature," he added. The idea is to move on to other action before the momentum of the sanctuary is dissipated.
The action planned includes spreading the "concept of the sanctuary" to the entire M.I.T. community, and to other surrounding colleges and initiating discussion-action groups on M.I.T. defense research, ROTC, recruiters on campus, and Inauguration Day demonstrations.
There is another reason for the decision to leave the Center besides the fatigue and the desire for positive action. The M.I.T. Junior Prom is scheduled for this Friday in the room held by the sanctuary.
"Everyone knows we've been having problems with the Junior Prom," O'Conner said last night. "If we deny the Junior Prom this hall, then I would be a liar, since I've been saying I'm seeking freedom for everyone." The Junior Prom had the hall reserved, so it is "their freedom to have this hall," he said.
The Junior Prom Committee had decided Friday night that they would not have the Prom at all if not in the Student Center. The Institute Committee, M.I.T.'s student government, resolved later that evening to recommend that "the Sanctuary move to a suitable place outside the Student Center by Monday noon."
If the Sanctuary had not decided to move, the M.I.T. administration would have faced a decision whether to support the Institute Committee resolution or allow the Sanctuary to remain at the Student Center.
Administration representatives were meeting with Resistance leaders last night to decide on another location for night-time Sanctuary headquarters