The diary discusses fighting against the war. April 22: the Okie, Uthaclena, Fred, Alice, and Fran drive down to NYC. The Okie was a peace/antiwar demonstration virgin. She was annoyed by the various organizations selling or giving away their newspapers. Uthaclena, conversely, enjoyed getting the unsolicited literature.
We started marching and chanting. The crowd yelled to the onlookers to join us. Though some people waved and gave the peace sign, it was understandable that no one wanted to join us in that cold and wet weather. Of course, a lot of police, some on horses, especially around an Armed Forces building. The crowd cheered loudly when our event made the Allied Chemical Building news.
We finally finished the 40-block walk. Walked through a Nedick’s to maybe get a better view of the speakers, but could see nothing, and the others were cold and tired, so we took a couple of subways from 42nd Street to a Woolworth’s, where Fred and Alice bought raincoats. Then we walked the few blocks to the car, except Alice who took the bus to Poughkeepsie for an event.
Back over the George Washington Bridge, we stopped for a bathroom on the Palisades Parkway. We heard on the radio John Lennon and Yoko Ono spoke at the demonstration, estimated to have had 30,000 to 50,000 participants.
The diary gap
As I noted, some of the diaries were destroyed in a flood in an apartment I lived in during the latter 1990s. Unfortunately one covered May 5 through September 6. This covered three of the most significant events in my life. I remember them, of course, but I wanted more details, more context. Ah well.
When Haiphong harbor in Vietnam was mined, announced on Monday, May 8, it was perceived as an escalation of the Vietnam war. One can debate the efficacy of the strategy in retrospect, but few events in the US antiwar movement galvanized so many people.
My recollection is that my professors at SUNY New Paltz, at least, were understanding and some even sympathetic to the cause that got the students to cease attending their classes.
An attempt to stop traffic on the New York State Thruway – I believe I was riding with Uthaclena – ended relatively quickly on Tuesday.
Our appearance at a demonstration at the United Nations on Thursday was stymied by a too-late bus whether this was intentional on the part of the charter bus company, we would never know. Still, some picketed in front of the armed forces recruitment center.
As I said
Much of this I wrote about a decade ago. “A large demonstration near the draft board in Kingston, NY was held on Friday.” The board closed preemptively. “The following day, the front page of the newspaper, the Kingston Freeman, had a picture of me and a couple of other people sitting in front of the building. The quality (or reproduction) of the photo was so poor, though, that I didn’t even recognize myself.
“The pivotal event that week was a demonstration at IBM Poughkeepsie on Wednesday, May 10, which building something called the IBM 360. In 1972, the idea of computers programmed to help kill people was quite upsetting to many folks; think an early version of today’s drones. In any case, there were about 360 people protesting – I don’t know if that were actually true or apocryphal.”
“At some point, we were warned if we walked past a certain point, we would be arrested. It was almost a dare, in its tone. As it turned out, twelve people were detained that day. One guy was charged with disturbing the peace, and his bail was set at $50. Everyone else was charged with fourth-degree criminal trespass, much to the chagrin of the district attorney, who was seeking a stiffer charge; 10 of the 11 got out on $25 bail. The 11th person, my friend Alice, had been arrested and convicted at a previous event, was fined $48, and had not paid it. Her bail was set at $250, and she opted not to pay it, and stayed in jail until the trial, eight days later.
“Did I mention I was one of those arrested?” In fact, I noticed, in looking at the Freeman in Newspapers.com, that a number were arrested around the area that month in various demonstrations, including a guy I got arrested with named Michael. The Associated Press said that as of May 11, over 250 people had been arrested for antiwar activities.