SMC Antiwar Conference Calls for Peaceful Actions
(Special to the CRIMSON)
WASHINGTON, D. C.-The deep divisions within the antiwar movement surfaced this weekend as the Student Mobilization Committee's National Student Antiwar Conference overwhelmingly rejected a proposal for a week of large-scale demonstrations and civil disobedience in Washington May 1-7.
Instead, the conference called for peaceful demonstrations in Washington and San Francisco on April 24.
In so doing, the SMC overrode the National Student Association-sponsored Ann Arbor conference, which ratified the May demonstrations and a People's Peace Treaty earlier this month.
The two proposals-peaceful demonstrations on April 24 and a week of civil disobedience May 1-7-were among 13 major action proposals presented to the 2000 attending the conference, which was held at Washington's Catholic University.
The conference also passed a resolution designating March 15 as National Draft Action Day, a day when all groups and individuals opposing the draft could come together to press their demands. But the conference voted down a proposal calling for a national student and workers' strike in protest against the invasion of Laos.
The split in the antiwar movement developed after the disintegration last year of the New Mobilization Committee to End the War.
The Mobe split into two groups: the National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC), headed by Don Gurewitz, Jerry Gordon, Ruth Gage-Colby, and other student Mobilization Committee leaders, and the more militant People's Coalition for Peace and Justlce (PCPJ), lead by Rennie Davis and David Dellinger.
At a conference in Chicago last December, NPAC set April 24 as a date for massive demonstrations against the war, with these demonstrations providing the central focus for the spring antiwar offensive.
Meanwhile, a PCPJ conference in January decided to schedule large antiwar demonstrations in Washington May 1 and 2, and to follow these demonstrations with a week of civil disobedience and disruption in the capital May 3 to 7.
Efforts at a reconciliation between the two groups have failed to this date, and both organizations plan to go ahead with their scheduled spring action.
The vote on these major action proposals was the highlight of a three-day conference which was called by the SMC to determine a spring strategy for the antiwar movement.
The conference participants included representatives of the SMC, the Young Socialists Alliance (YSA), the Revolutionary Marxist Caucus (RMC), the Workers' League (a Trotskyist group), and several women's, Third-World, and gay liberation groups.
Throughout the conference, a major dispute was between people who wanted to make immediate withdrawal of U. S. troops from Southeast Asia the main focus for the antiwar movement, and those who wanted the antiwar movement to join in the struggle of workingclass revolutionaries to overthrow capitalism in the United States.
Supporters of the successful April 24 resolution emphasized that this demonstration would welcome all groups opposed to the war, and that they wanted to make the protests as large as possible.
Mike Alewitz, a member of the SMC steering committee, emphasized that the demonstrations would be legal and peaceful. Asked if SMC would try to prevent any violence which might arise from the gathering, Alewitz answered, "Our demonstration will be legal and peaceful. If other people go out afterward and do different things, we won't try to stop them."