Soldiers March in San Francisco, April 6, 1969

David Kirschner Remembers the Day

GIs March to the San Francisco Presidio, 1969Last month, in March, 2016, I received an email from David Kirschner about a photo on the Harvey Richards Media Archive. “That’s me,” he wrote, “driving my 1957 DeSoto featured in the photo.” His next email elaborated:
This was taken a couple of months before I turned 17. My dad bought the car a few months earlier at a charity auction for $35.00. it went for next to nothing because on the day of the auction they couldn’t get it started so no one bid on it. Turned out the battery was dead. I believe this was the first time I had driven into the city from San Rafael.
I had no idea where I was going and was soon surrounded by the giant sea of people amassed at the Civic Center. I was completely lost and couldn’t even see the street at that point so I stopped to ask someone who looked like a volunteer where the hell to park. He asked me to wait a moment and returned with the PA and speaker you see attached to the roof. The next thing I knew I was leading the entire march down Van Ness. It was totally by accident that I ended up there. In front of me was a flatbed with photographers and newsreel cameras. Me and the DeSoto made the lead off story on all three network newscasts that evening.
The background of the march that David stumbled into is intriguing. It was a pivotal moment in the peace movement’s fight against the war in Vietnam. It was a march to support soldiers charged with mutiny at the Presidio Brig full of AWOL soldiers who had sat down in the prison to protest the war.
From the Harvey Richards Media Archive Post “1969 Soldiers Protest Mutiny Charges against the Presidio 27
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 . . . soldiers speaking at the rally. David Ziegler’s film contains their reflections about their experiences 30 years later. In early 1969, the mutiny trials of the Presidio 27 in San Francisco, CA, began in small groups of 3 or 4 prisoners. When the first trials resulted in convictions with 14, 15, and 16 year sentences, community outrage followed. GI’s put together a march to the Presidio on April 6, 1969 to support the imprisoned GIs. Harvey Richards photographs of these events are presented in the gallery on this page.

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