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3 July  
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1966: Arrests in London after Vietnam rally
At least 31 people have been arrested in London after their protest against the Vietnam War turned violent.

Police moved in after scuffles broke out at the demonstration outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square.

The crowd of 4,000 became agitated after the general secretary of the Communist Party, John Gollan, urged them to disperse.

A police motorbike patrolman was knocked over and a lit match was thrown into the petrol that leaked from the machine.

A force of 200 police officers had cordoned off Grosvenor Square by the time the protestors had marched there from Trafalgar Square.

The demonstrators were chanting "hands off Vietnam" and other slogans as they waited for a five-strong delegation to hand over a resolution to embassy officials.

Demands

They were calling for an end to US bombings and the withdrawal of US ground troops from Vietnam.

The Americans have recently carried out air attacks in North Vietnam including on the capital Hanoi and Haiphong - another major town.

Amongst the demonstrators were 2,000 members of the newly formed Youth for Peace in Vietnam Movement (YPVM).

Earlier the YPVM had marched to Downing Street, through the streets of the West End, chanting "Victory to the Vietcong".

They joined the rest of the rally - then massing in Trafalgar Square - after they had handed a letter to the Prime Minister calling for the UK to disassociate itself from US policy in Vietnam.

Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart returned from south-east Asia yesterday.

Speaking from London Airport he said the British approach to US policy was not one of "blanket approval".

China issued a statement today about the American raids on Hanoi and Haiphong.

The statement denounced the US for its "barbarous, wanton and criminal act of aggression and war".

It also said: "In accordance with the interests and demands of the Vietnamese people we will at any time take such actions as we deem necessary."

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Photo of the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London
4,000 demonstrators demanded an end to the war



In Context
Protest marches against the Vietnam War - often driven by students - took place in other European and American cities throughout the conflict.

They were instrumental in turning public opinion against the war and forcing the US government to re-consider its intervention in south-east Asia.

Protests intensified towards the end of the 1960s as the costs and casualties of war rose.

In 1968 US students burnt their draft cards and over 600,000 were involved in a march on Washington in November 1969.

Student demonstrators were joined by other disaffected groups - including the working class and war veterans.

The anti-war movement declined after President Nixon suspended the draft and began to withdraw US troops in 1971.

Stories From 3 Jul


 
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