Coffin carried in peace protest

25 November 1969

On 15 November hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Washington DC in response to the call from the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, which is demanding a moratorium on the war.  The current issue of Guild Gazette reports on the protest in Liverpool organised at the same time:

A black coffin was carried by a group of demonstrators from London Road to the Pier Head where a vigil was held in protest at the war in Vietnam last Saturday week.

The demonstration, organised by the Merseyside Committee for Peace in Vietnam, was held in sympathy with the national moratorium on Vietnam happening in America at the same time.  Some American students were present, mostly from Lancaster University.

The scene at the American Consulate where the march ended

Two hundred demonstrators, encumbent [sic] with red banners, chanting ‘Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh’, “Victory to NLF’ and ‘Americans Out!’, marched through the city streets with the coffin inscribed on one side ‘2,000,000 South Vietnamese dead and on the other ‘40,000 American war dead’.

A large number of University students took part in the march, many of them from left wing societies, the Labour Society carrying their own banner. This caused a difference of opinion with the pacifists carrying the coffin who decided to disassociate themselves from the students and marched some yards behind them.

Escorted by police, the march moved peacefully down Lime Street in pouring rain, little note of the march being taken by local people out shopping apart from one man who shouted at the students: “I fought for the likes of you in the last war – a good dose of the army would do you some good.”

The march reached the Pier Head successfully where the coffin was placed at the foot of the Memorial to the War Dead and the marchers were then addressed by Mr Roger Lyons, an ex-deputy President of’ NUS, and a local trade union official.

He declared that “In Vietnam, the most imperialistic and technological power in the world is subjecting a helpless nation to torture,” and demanded the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam.

The demonstrators then moved off again to the American Consulate where the coffin was placed reverently upon its steps.

At one minute intervals, little black boxes were placed beside the coffin until there were 40 boxes containing 40,000 names of American war dead. Two wreaths were placed on the coffin, while some war poems were read out by students.

Unfortunately there was no member of the Consulate present in the building which was empty except for some police standing inside in case of any attempt to start a sit-in.

“We shall not be moved”  was sung by the marchers and then they dispersed, their protest made peacefully and effectively.

Socialist Society leaflet

Vietnam War Moratorium

In America today and tomorrow a quarter of a million people will march on the White House in Washington.  Their two-day protest is a call to end the war in Vietnam, a war which has cost the lives of countless US and Vietnamese soldiers and civilians, and destroyed towns and villages in North and South Vietnam.

Nixon remains intransigent; the war goes on.  There are still more soldiers in Vietnam than during Johnson’s administration.

The British government continues to acquiesce in support of this cruel war.  Like the protestors in America, we must condemn British complicity in Vietnam.

Support the Vietnam Moratorium.  Join the Northern demonstration at Islington Square, Saturday 11am.

March to the US Consulate, Pier Head

Socialist Society 14.11.69


Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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