Early WRL Demonstration

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One of WRL’s earliest known street actions was a demonstration marking the 10th anniversary of the World War I armistice.

On November 10, 1928, 27 pacifists and socialists -- including the Youth Division of the War Resisters League, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Union Theological Seminary, Young People’s Socialist League, Bronx Free Fellowship – marched from Bowling Green up Broadway to an antiwar rally in Union Square.

Clipping from NY Times; the headline reads "REDS AND PACIFISTS CLASH IN UNION SQ: 200 Communists Try to Break Up Demonstration of Socialists and Other Radicals: POLICE SUBDUE HECKLERS: Make One Arrest After Guarding Parade Up Broadway in Which 27 Youths March""They carried signs and banners reading “Work for Peace,” “War Is Hell — Why Have Hell?”, and “No More War.” Speakers argued that arms manufacturers wanted war, and youth were being indoctrinated though an expansion of JROTC and ROTC programs in high schools and colleges.

The following day a New York Times article luridly titled “Reds and Pacifists Clash” noted that the demonstration was heckled by 200 Communist Party members carrying signs such as “Pacifism Is a Smoke Screen” and “Defend the Soviet Union,” all the while surrounded by a thousand spectators who silently looked on. In the 1920s, the fledging USSR was viewed by some idealistic socialists in the United States as a workers’ paradise. Consequently, they feared antiwar and disarmament sentiments might undercut the USSR’s rearmament efforts.

- Ed Hedemann


source: New York Times article appeared on Nov. 11, 1928, p. 5; and photos in New York Times a week later on Nov. 18, 1928

Read Full New York Times article here