Troops On Alert
Violence Seen Probable In D.C. Demonstration
WASHINGTON (AP)- Leaders of Saturday's march on the Pentagon- the climax and
largest of this week's antiwar demonstrations- said Friday they plan "only
peaceful acts of civil disobedience."
But they said there is a potential for violence.
The Pentagon was prepared, augmenting regular security forces with up to 6,000
troops and one source said an additional 20,000 will be on alert.
Estimates are that 40,000 to 70,000 will take part in the three-pronged demonstrations:
a Saturday morning rally at the Lincoln Memorial with speeches and entertainment;
a 1 1/2-mile march across the Potomac River to the Pentagon for another rally;
and planned civil disobedience and an all-night vigil at the Pentagon.
Just A Ritual
Dave Dellinger, chairman of the march, said it is probable there are some who
may not want only to go "through a ritualistic charade of stepping across
a line," to express their disapproval of the Vietnam War.
"It is not surprising that people who are as abhorrent about the war and
determined to stop it wont go up as sheep to be slaughtered," he said.
The permit issued the demonstrators sets out boundaries at the Pentagon, but
Dellinger said the protesters have not abandoned their plan to encircle the
huge building with its 40 entrances.
Warren Christopher, the deputy attorney general, said the government will not
Permit Not License
"Let no one be mistaken," he said, "the granting of a permit
is not a license for unlawful conduct."
Officials refused to say how many troops have flown into Washington, where
they are stationed and under what conditions they will go into action. In the
capital itself, police leaves have been canceled and 4,000 National Guard troops
will be on duty.
If the demonstrations go peacefully, "it will be worth the cost"
of protecting constitutional rights of assembly and expression while maintaining
the law and order, an official said.
Both Sides Busy
Preparations were at a peak by both sides. The demonstrators were arranging
for sound equipment, sanitary facilities, medical care- and money to pay for
The government erected a high wire fence around the Pentagon reservoir, set
up special arrest booths, supplied an extra 200 federal marshals to the 100
already here, and was making a traffic count on roads leading into Washington.
President Johnson will be at the White House, spurning an invitation to address
the National Governors Conference in the Virgin Islands. Press Secretary George
Christian would not comment when asked if the demonstrations were the reason.
Black national groups have been circulating tracts urging Negroes to stay away
from the demonstrations. One mimeographed sheet said their "purpose is
to use black people as tools to bring about the overthrow of the U.S. government
forcing the government to kill black people on sight."
Dellinger said many Negro antiwar groups will attend the Lincoln Memorial demonstration,
then will go into the black community to carry the message door-to-door.
Rules spelled out in the permit set aside an area for an all-night "vigil"
at the Pentagon, but specify that once a demonstrator leaves that area after
7 p.m. Saturday, he cannot be readmitted. Free access to the area begins again
at noon Sunday.
The permit expires at midnight Sunday, but some demonstrators indicated they
will continue Monday when the normal work force of 27,000 will be there. On
weekends, only 3,000 are in the Pentagon.
Among the diverse groups involved in the demonstration is a large hippie contingent.
A spokesman, Don Lewis of San Francisco, said, "We felt that by bringing
music, flowers and a Wizard of Oz atmosphere we can bring some happiness into
a serious gathering."
Friday afternoon 16 or 17 young people clutching flowers showed up at the Mall
Entrance to the Pentagon and complained of "Stalin Tactics" when ordered
to stand outside a retaining rope. Hippies have called the Pentagon "Warhawk
Dellinger says the demonstrators have no intention of physically attacking
the Pentagon. "We would like to sit down and seriously disrupt business,"
If there is violence, it will be caused by the guards, he said. "We want
to confront the warmakers, not the police of Washington."