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message 1: by S.J. (new)

S.J. Lewis (sjlewis) | 263 comments Reading about the recent riots in California brought back old memories of the 60s. Yeah, Berkeley loomed large in those days as well.
Back in 1969 I heard about an antiwar rally that was to be staged in DC. I decided that I would go there and see for myself what it was like. While I was there, I took copious notes, which, alas, have not survived, but some of the memories are quite clear to this day.
1) At one point, an ideological clash between a group of Trotskyites (distinguished by red armbands) and another group of Maoists (distinguished by red headbands) became heated, and as both groups became louder and angrier I realized that the surrounding crowd kept edging closer, eager to witness any violence that might occur. Then someone called out: 'Hey, cool it, man! The tactical pigs are out!'
I looked around and saw two men in police uniforms, wearing crash helmets, watching from nearby. The images of the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968 were still vivid, and while many of the onlookers were probably disappointed when things broke up without a fight, nobody seemed to want to have run-in with the authorities in which they might get hurt themselves. As the crowd dispersed, I went over to talk to the officers.
They were National Park Service police, there at the moment simply to keep an eye on things. They wore crash helmets because they rode motor scooters and the law required them to do so.
2) By midafternoon, the Mall and surrounding environs were full of people. I spoke with quite a few of them, and based on what they said I concluded that many of them had come here simply because it was something to do on a nice Spring day. They may have been against the Vietnam War, but I suspected that if it had been raining many of them would have stayed home. Almost everyone I spoke with was friendly, open and polite.
3) There were some things I hadn't considered about these demonstrations that I had to take note of once I was there. The first was that all those people would get hungry at some point and go looking for food. Every nearby restaurant and fast-food outlet within easy walking distance of the Mall was crowded and noisy. The second revelation was that all those people would need facilities to take care of bodily functions. DC had taken care of that by stationing mobile restrooms here and there. Picture a 40-foot house trailer converted into multiple toilet facilities and you get the picture. The third revelation was that the city would need extra police officers on hand to maintain order. Every police officer I saw there looked either bored or irritated. No doubt many of them had been put on duty when they would rather have been enjoying a scheduled day off. While their irritation often showed, they remained professional. The crowd tended to be civil, which helped to keep things running almost smoothly. That changed over the following week as most of the crowd went home and only the hard-core 'activists' remained in DC.


message 2: by Jack (last edited Feb 03, 2017 04:14PM) (new)

Jack (jackjuly) | 254 comments In 1968, I was 4 years old. My father had returned from a two week work-up. He was stationed aboard the USS Long Beach. As he walked out the front gate with his sea bag, a hippy spit on him. My dad grabbed him by the ponytail and punched him until he was unconscious. He dropped him at the feet of the SP and walked over to our car, kissed my mom, hugged me and said, "It's good to be home." It is my first powerful memory of my father.


message 3: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) Both are good stories. My two-year hitch was over in November 1967, before the really bad stuff began, but it was a different world compared to 1965. A lot had changed in just two short years, which, incidentally, were the longest two years of my life. I still think of Lyndon B. Johnson as the worst president in my lifetime, which started with Truman.


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