WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 27--Thousands of marchers, about 800 of them from Harvard, came to Washington Saturday to protest American policy in Vietnam.
The turnout was higher than the 20,000 anticipated, although the refusal of New York City bus drivers to bring demonstrators to Washington stranded about a thousand demonstrators in New York. Washington police estimated that 20,000 to 25,000 were on the scene; march coordinator Sanford Gottlieb thought it was more like 45,000.
District police found the tone of the demonstration far more satisfactory than others they have confronted. Police officials praised the marchers calm behavior and the demonstration monitors' control of the crowd.
The tone was too mild to suit some of the student participants. Several groups were angered by Gottlieb's attempt to keep "unauthorized signs" out of the parade. But many of the signs calling for immediate American withdrawal from Vietnam were in evidence anyway.
The marchers were older than the usual demonstration-goers. At the afternoon's speechmaking, attempts to rouse the audience with freedom songs and folk-singing failed--many of the people present didn't know the words.
And the speeches, which followed the marchers' three-hour picketing of the White House, failed to bring the crowd shouting to its feet.
This had to be the first anti-Vietnam rally ever at which invocation was read (there were large pockets of people who refused to stand up for it). Most of the speakers went out of their way to disown the more radical elements of the protest movement.
Ronnie Dugger, editor of The Texas Observer, denounced draft-dodging, draft card burning, and pro-Viet Cong sentiment, before calling on President Johnson for an immediate cease-fire.
Joseph M. Duffy, Jr., associate professor of English at Notre Dame, quoted extensively from the speech of Pope Paul VI before the United Nations.
The Old Socialist
The first loud cheers of the afternoon came for 81-year-old Socialist leader Norman Thomas. Almost unable to see the crowd. Thomas pounded his arms rhythmically on the lectern and denounced "this monstrous war." Like other speakers, he called for a cease-fire and an end to the bombings of North Vietnam.
He urged opponents of the war to run candidates for Congress in 1966. He ended with an appeal for America to stop the war, and drew loud cheers by crying, "I would rather save her soul than her face."
Mrs. Martin Luther King brought cheers by reminding the crowd of her husband's long fight for civil rights. She disclaimed experience in foreign affairs but warned "the experts" that "bombings only make an oppressed people more determined to throw off the yoke of oppression."
Loudest for Oglesby
The student half of the crowd saved its loudest applause for Carl Oglesby, the bearded, 30-year-old president of the Students for a Democratic Society. He was the only student among the speakers.