Activists Protest Registration; Grace Period Ends This Week
Chants of "No Draft, No War, U.S. Out of H Selvador" echoed across the Boston Common Saturday, when more than 100 people gathered to protest draft registration and U.S. involvement in El Selvador.
Ten members of the Harvard-Radcliffe Peace Alliance joined the three-hour demonstration, which shifted back and forth between the Common and the recruiting office.
One Harvard protester, Michael T. Anderson '83, estimated that 25 percent of Harvard students required to register have not signed up, a figure comparable to national statistics The Selective Service System has said that more than 800.000 eligible young men have failed to register.
The official two-month "grace period," which gave non-registrants extra time to sign up late without penalty, expired yesterday But government officials have indicated recently that prosecutions will be limited and will not begin immediately.
Calling resistance to registration "the largest defiance since Prohibition "Michael Useem, a member of Parents Against the Draft and a professor at Boston University said that the threat of prosecution has not intimidated young men because of the enormous number of non-registrants.
Nevertheless, Useem said the Administration will probably begin arresting non-registrants who have publicity announced their opposition to the program "There is a historical precedent for use of the draft as a means of opressing dissent," he added.
Non-registrants are now subject to a five-year jail term and a $10.000 fine, but Rep Les Aspin (D-Wis.) said last week that he will introduce legislation to cut the penalty to $200
U. S. Atty. Gen. William French Smith announced last month that the Justice Department would only prosecute "hundreds" of non-registrants, arguing that registration resistance would decrease once prosecutions begin