50 years ago this month: A contemporary account of the 1967 March on the Pentagon

By Dave Lindorff (as an 18-year-old anti-war protester)
…            As the march moved towards the Pentagon, I was surprised and relieved to see virtually no signs of harassment, of which there was a lot at the New York march, from bystanders and from the police.  There was a rather gay feeling through the march as the day got warmer.


            We got across the Potomac and the Pentagon came into view. People were there already. The march began to move faster, and soon we were on the Pentagon grounds.


            When we got to the North Parking Lot, the buses were already there to take us home, but many people were moving off towards the mall of the Pentagon —a sort of enormous front porch. I went there with another Wesleyan freshman and the girl I had met. When we got there, we saw that the stairs to the mall were packed with demonstrators. Along the edge of the mall was a line of MPs carrying billy clubs and wearing helmets. Some people were using ropes to climb the wall. There was general disorder and confusion but apparently no violence on either side.


            Out of curiosity, we worked our way up the packed ramp and stairs until we were near the head of the group near the MPs, who naturally looked tense. Suddenly someone near me tried to climbing the last eight feet to the top of the wall above the side of the steps, where two rows of MPs were standing. They kept him down by prodding him with billy clubs. I will not pass judgement on this action…he was not injured.


            People started jeering and suddenly threw a piece of wood. It was fended off. The conflagration grew quickly and soon about thirty feet of MPs were under a barrage. I felt sick and turned to leave. Then someone started yelling, “Peace! Peace!”  in a chant while others tried to stop the throwers. It was tense, but the chant caught on. I joined it. Soon the sound was everywhere. In not more than a minute or two, the pelting had stopped. Everyone was relieved. I began to feel confident. It is easy for a mob to stat into uncontrollable violence, but if a mass of unorganized people can stop such a situation that mass is no mob, and it is a sign of the character of the majority, who were in fact steeped in non-violence.


            When we got to the top of the stairs, we could see the flat expanse which reached to the entrance of the Pentagon. For the first fifty feet there were thousands of demonstrators. They were packed up to a line of MPs who were standing on the other side of a chalk line. About twenty feet behind them was another thicker line of MPs and other soldiers with fixed bayonets, and the steps leading to the Pentagon doors were packed with soldiers. Between the first two lines of MPs walked many federal marshals with armbands and billy clubs.


            The MPs were standing with their feet apart and their guns at their sides. Each held a billy club in one hand. No one was making a move, and most of us assumed that we were within the bounds of the permit at the time. Nobody informed us otherwise at any time; neither the march organizers not the military. People began to sit down in anticipation of a long sit-in. Those on the front line tried to talk with the troops, who apparently were not allowed to respond. The prevailing attitude among the demonstrators was that it was not the troops we were against, but the government, and consequently we viewed them as fellow human beings and nothing less. Most people tried to be friendly. The object of talking was both to show them that we were friendly and to have, some of us felt, a sort of teach-in….

For the entire article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the uncompromised, collectively run, six-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative news site, please go to:www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/3688

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