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(Special to the CRIMSON)
WASHINGTON, D.C.- More than a quarter of a million people- the largest anti-war gathering in U. S. history-converged peacefully on this city Saturday to demand a rapid withdrawal of troops from Vietnam.
Under a clear sky and in a cold, brisk wind, the mass of people-estimated at from 250,000 to 500,000- marched fourteen long blocks from the foot of the Capitol to the grassy hill beneath the Washington Monument. The marchers, predominantly under 30, packed Pennsylvania Avenue for three and a half hours and nearly filled the 30-acre hill.
Metropolitan buses tightly lined up along 15th Street blocked the marchers off from the front lawn of the White House.
Although troops were not in view, Army and Marine Corps men were placed in the Federal buildings along the route. Two thousand metropolitan police were on duty for the march, and the Pentagon and Justice Department were packed with paratroopers.
The march had very little active support from Washington officialdom. Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.), Sen, George S. McGovern (D-S. D.), and Sen Charles E. Goodell (R-N. Y.) were the only Congressmen to speak at the rally.
Goodell told the gathering, "We are not here to break a President or even a Vice-President. We are here to break a war and to begin a peace."
McGovern said, "Let no American . . . be frightened out of his constitutional rights by those who preach repression and intimidation," and urged the crowd to "be strong and of good courage."
The crowd was good-natured and generally cooperative throughout the afternoon. A speaker on the podium would occasionally start chants of "Sit Down," when too many people were obstructing others views.
Demonstrators started a few small fires out of trash to keep warm as the afternoon passed. These were discouraged by the speakers. but only one chant of "Put Them Out" was started, with little effect.
Some people smoked marijuana. but drugs were not very prominent. Others had flasks of hard liquor, some of which they offered to people close by to warm them up.
Performers and speakers alternated throughout the afternoon on the podium below the Washington Monument.
Among the participating artists and musicians were Arlo Guthric. Pete Secger, Mary Travis (of Peter. Paul and Mary). actor-playwright Adolphe Green, Leonard Bernstein, and the cast of "Hair."
The music ranged from "The Age of Aquarius" to the Cleveland Orchestra String Quartet. Mitch Miller was also on hand Some people in the crowd began dancing with the inspiration of country banjo player, Larl Scruggs.
The demonstrators joined Pete Secger singing, "All we are saying is give peace a chance." They stood up and waved their hands in the peace sign for several minutes.
Black participation was sparse, but several blacks spoke to the rally, including Mrs. Corretta Scott King; Phil Hutchins, former officer of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee: George Wiley, head of the National Welfare Rights Organization; and Dick Gregory.
While Mrs. King was speaking, a group of people close to the stage raised a 300-pound cross with someone strapped to it for several minutes.
Marshals trained by the New Mobilization Committee, the march's sponsor, tightly controlled the crowd. Among their slogans was "Do it in the road."
The march scheduled for 10 a. m. started at 10:25 a. m. and was led by three drummers, followed by eleven coffins containing the names of the 40,000 war dead. Behind them, a man carried the 300-lb, wooden cross. He explained, "If Jesus Christ were alive today, he would impeach Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon."
Chants of "Peace Now" and "Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh- NLF is gonna win" were heard sporadically throughout the march. Other chants were. "One two, three four. Tricky Dicky stop the war" and "Peace. peace. peace peace. Spiro Agnew
back to Greece." Marchers shouted "We want our money back" as they passed the Internal Revenue Service and "Free Bobby Seale" as they went by the Justice Department.
Placards and banners dominated the march. Signs were rife with references to Spiro Agnew and the Silent Majority: "Effetism in Defense of Liberty is No Vice." "Tyranny Has Always Depended On a Silent Majority." "Keep Spiro Agnew in the Silent Majority." and "What Plan, Mr. President?" Several people carried large NLF flags and red and black banners. Many other marchers carried small American flags.
At one point in the march a group of about 100 people behind a banner reading "Power to the People" charged through the cordon of marshals who lined the route at Eighth Street in an apparent attempt to attack the White House, but were forced back by the marshals.
During the afternoon, the museums were overflowing with people resting after the march.
Among the Harvard personalities participating in the rally at the Washington Monument were George Wald, Higgins Professor of Biology, who spoke to the crowd, and buckskin-clad, former Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary. "Out of sight," Leary commented.
The figure of 250,000 attributed to the number of marchers was termed "modest" by police Chief Jerry Wilson, New Mobe sources claim that over 500,000 attended the march and the rally.
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