1500 Rally Against Registration; Speakers Advocate Resistance
More than 1500 demonstrators gathered at windy Government Center Saturday to hear a series of speakers "counsel, aid and abet" them to resist draft registration if it is enacted by Congress.
Twenty Vietnam-era draftees burned their draft cards during the demonstration, called in response to President Carter's request 12 days ago for renewed draft registration.
Speakers urged the demonstrators to resist the reintroduction of registration, and also said that if Congress adopts the program young people should refuse to register.
Lewis Font, a Vietnam veteran, told the crowd that Dr. Benjamin Spock and other anti-war activists had been arrested in Boston ten years ago for "counseling, aiding and abetting" students to resist the draft.
"Therefore I counsel, aid and abet you to refuse to register," Font told the cheering crowd.
Dr. Helen Caldicott, an outspoken anti-nuclear activist and member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, told the group that "nuclear war, indeed any war, is contra-indicated... Over my dead body will they draft my sons and send them off to get killed," she added as the crowd cheered.
Protesters, including more than 50 Harvard students who gathered first outside Widener Library and marched to the subway station, began arriving at the Common shortly before noon.
As the sun sank during the afternoon, the entire rally slowly drifted across the huge concrete plaza in an effort to stay in the sun.
Protesters stamped their feet and danced to keep warm. After one speaker urged the crowd to "jump up and down if you think Carter is an asshole," the more than 1000 shivering demonstrators still left outside City Hall began to hop wildly.
Police sources estimated 2500 demonstrators joined the rally, but Crimson reporters counted no more than 1500 at any time.
The rally was disrupted only once, when a man identifying himself as a "Polish Freedom Fighter" grabbed the speaker's microphone before being wrestled to the ground.