Draft Cards Burn, Soldiers and Veterans Join the Protests

Peace Movement: Soldiers and Vets

When draftees, soldiers, and Vietnam veterans joined the peace movement, the protests moved from civilians marching on the streets to citizen soldiers disobeying orders and undermining the fighting capacity of the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Even as peace marches grew larger and more frequent in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the U.S. political system continued its escalation of the war in Vietnam.  Harvey Richards recognized this deepening of the protest movement and photographed the actions that struck at the heart of the military machine.

October, 1967, Oakland, CA, Stop the Draft.

October, 1967, Oakland, CA, Stop the Draft.

The Stop the Draft Week demonstrations that began on October 16, 1967 in front of the downtown Oakland Army Induction Center opened deep cracks in the pro war political consensus and began the massive involvement of soldiers, on duty and as veterans, in the peace movement.  Protesters arrived at the Oakland Army Induction Center to greet busloads of draftees reporting for duty with picket signs, victory signs and chants of “Hell No We Won’t Go”. Joan Baez joined the sit in in front of the main entrance to the Induction Center and was arrested along with many others. A massive police presence cleared the streets and sidewalks and then the buses drove up and unloaded the draftees at the main door.  Two months in December, 1967, a second Stop the Draft Week  protest witnessed protesters sit down in the street in front of buses loaded with draftees to prevent them (at least symbolically) from going to war.  More draft cards were burned.  Many were arrested. Even though the war machine had its way, the sight of open civil disobedience in the face of the patriotic hysteria in the midst of a shooting war shocked the nation.

In April, 1968, “GI’s for Peace” signs appeared in the large peace march in San Francisco.  On October 12, 1968, GI’s for Peace organized and led another march to end the war in Vietnam. Active duty soldiers in uniform in full defiance of U.S. Army orders not to do that led the march and spoke openly at the rally in front of City Hall.   The march reflected the increased numbers of soldiers rebelling against the war. During 1968, there were 155,536 individuals who were Away Without Leave (AWOL) from the  U.S. Army.  Of those 53,357 were designated desertions.  On October 14, 1968, two days after the march, 27 prisoners in the Presidio brig staged a sit down protest over conditions there.  Newspaper headlines read “Mutiny in the Presidio”.  The sit down protesters sang “We Shall Overcome” and were charged with desertion with a possible death penalty.  One of the Presidio 27 remembered the events here.   The film “Sir, No Sir!” by David Ziegler is about these events. Harvey Richards’ film No Greater Cause filmed these brave soldiers speaking at the rally.  David Ziegler’s film contains their reflections about their experiences 30 years later.

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All images are copyrighted © Paul Richards 2001-2013.

Stop the Draft, October, 1967

 Stop the Draft Protests, Oakland Army Induction Center, October 1967. The peace movement tried to stop the draft with non-violent civil disobedience in Oakland, Caifornia, in October and again in December, 1967.  The day began with blocking the entrance to … Continue reading

Stop the Draft, December, 1967

Draft Cards Burning, Sit ins, Stop the Draft Week Stop the Draft Week in December, 1967 at the Oakland Army Induction Center on Clay Street in downtown Oakland, California had many of the same actions that happened in October, 1967, … Continue reading

1968 San Francisco, Two Vietnam War Protests

 GI’s Take the Lead in 1968 Harvey photographed two marches to end the war in Vietnam in 1968 in San Francisco.  Photos are presented in two galleries below. The first gallery presents photos from the  April 27, 1968 march to … Continue reading

1969 Soldiers Protest Mutiny Charges against the Presidio 27

Soldiers Protest March to the San Francisco Presidio On October 12, 1968, GI’s for Peace organized and led a march in San Francisco to end the war in Vietnam. Active duty soldiers protest in uniform in full defiance of U.S. … Continue reading

November 15, 1969 Vietnam War Moratorium

Vietnam War Moratorium World Wide Protest As part of world wide Vietnam war moratorium, the San Francisco Moratorium Peace March occurred on November 15, 1969.  Large demonstrations occurred around the country and the world including 500,000 in Washington, D.C.  The … Continue reading

1971, 1972 San Francisco Peace Marches to End the Vietnam War

Peace Marches, Veterans Day & Picketing Travis Air Force Base After making No Greater Cause in 1968, Harvey Richards continued to shoot motion picture footage and still photos of peace marches against the Vietnam war in San Francisco. Four photo galleries below present … Continue reading