Over 3,000 demonstrated against the military machine at the front gate of Ft. Dix on Armed Forces Day, May 16. Armed Forces Day has traditionally been a day when the military invites thousands of civilians on bases around the country to show off its tanks, planes and other weapons.
This has been the Brass's Day-but we turned it around on them at Dix. Ft. Dlx was one of over 24 military bases closed on that day.
The demonstration was sponsored by the ASU and the Ft. Dix collective.
The demonstration was started by a rally; the first speaker was Maryann Weissman. Coordinator for the ASU (Maryann spent six months in jail for supporting the Chairman of the ASU, Andy Stapp, at a courtmartial at Ft. Sill in 1967; she also recently spent 30 days in solitary confinement for "contempt" for supporting the New York Black Panther 21).
Maryann spoke from the top of a car, demanding freedom for anti-war and anti-racist GIs and the freedom of Black Panther political prisoners. "Demanding freedom is one thing," she said, "but no one has gained freedom unless they and their brothers and sisters have fought for it. And that's our fight."
The demonstrators then marched to the gate and there they were confronted by concertina wire and MPs from the 759th MP Bn. "Big firms get rich while GIs die!" they yelled to the GIs. An ASU organizer, Bob Butler, was attaching the BOND onto the GIs' raised bayonets when he was suddenly pulled across the barbed wire by some CID pigs and held prisoner for two hours.
At the continuing rally outside the gate, Hugh King from the coffee house read a letter from a GI. He was followed by Robert Webb, a Black Panther; Tom Doyle, a Marine reservist and an ASU organizer, then spoke. Tom faces up to seven years on a frame-up- "assault" charges stemming from his distributing the BOND on Dix. He was followed by John Lewis, National Field Organizer of the ASU, who urged the rally to move to the entrance to the base and join the others in rapping with the ASU organizers and members of Youth Against war & Fascism, with the aid of a loud speaker, reached over the heads of the special riot control MPs sent in from Ft. Meade and talked to the hundreds of Ft. Dix GIs held as back-up troops.
John Lewis and Tom Doyle, both organizers for the ASU, rapped to the GIs about the way they were being used by the Brass against the people. They pointed out that while the GIs were standing in the sun in their hot fatigues, steel-pots and heavy M-14s, the Brass were standing under a shade tree drinking ice tea.
All the speakers repeated the message to the GIs-that "we are here to support Who are you protecting? Your family? Most of you come from working class homes-is your family gaining anything from this war? It's you, their sons, that are sent to die and its their pay checks that feel the squeeze of the war. Do the sons of the rich have to fight in Vietnam? Not So who are you protecting when you stand guard at the stockade? It is the Brass, who live in air-conditioned buildings, and their cronies on Wall St. who need you to protect them from the people. That barbed wire you threw down isn't just keeping us out-it's keeping you in."
The words hit home. It was also evident from the jet fighter-bombers that suddenly began circling overhead in an attempt to drown out the message of the ASU that the Brass feel the threat of the thousands of Gin who have already organized against the war and the military monster.
The Bond, vol. 4, no. 6