Soldiers Protest March to the San Francisco Presidio
About the March to the Presidio: Military Protests
On October 12, 1968, GI’s for Peace organized and led a march in San Francisco to end the war in Vietnam. Active duty soldiers protest in uniform in full defiance of U.S. Army orders not to do that led the march and spoke openly at the rally in front of City Hall. The march reflected the increased numbers of soldiers rebelling against the war.
During 1968, there were 155,536 individuals who were Away Without Leave (AWOL) from the U.S. Army. Of those 53,357 were designated desertions. On October 14, 1968, two days after the march, 27 prisoners in the Presidio brig staged a sit down protest over conditions there. Newspaper headlines read “Mutiny in the Presidio”. The sit down protesters sang “We Shall Overcome” and were charged with desertion with a possible death penalty.
The film “Sir, No Sir!” by David Ziegler is about these events. Harvey Richards’ film No Greater Cause filmed these brave soldiers speaking at the rally. David Ziegler’s film contains their reflections about their experiences 30 years later. In early 1969, the mutiny trials of the Presidio 27 in San Francisco, CA, began in small groups of 3 or 4 prisoners. When the first trials resulted in convictions with 14, 15, and 16 year sentences, community outrage followed. GI’s put together a march to the Presidio on April 6, 1969 to support the imprisoned GIs. Harvey Richards photographs of these events are presented in the gallery on this page.
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