CLIO mr brice - page 44

Despite being known to fuel many demonstrations
across the United States, public opposition to the
Vietnam War had an impact that spread across Europe.
Britain’s biggest anti-Vietnam War protest was on the
17th March 1968 outside the United States Embassy
on London’s Grosvenor Square. It took a violent turn,
resulting in 86 people being treated for injuries, 50
(including 25 policemen) being taken to hospital and an
estimated 300 people being arrested. This all began with
a rally of approximate 10,000 people in Trafalgar Square,
protesting, in a ‘good humoured’ way, against Britain’s
support of US’ involvement in Vietnam. However, once
the protestors spread to Grosvenor Square, there was
an outbreak of violence when they broke through the
police barrier and threw stones, earth, firecrackers and
smoke bombs. A 17 year old who was involved said 40
years later that “the demonstration against the Vietnam
War turned nasty”, remembering “the sudden, urgent
shoving, the unsettling feeling of being surrounded by
strangers, supposedly allies, the clatter of hooves, the
struggle to save [himself ] from being pushed to the
ground” and “the wordless yelling all around”. At the
time, newspapers claimed that the violence was pre-
meditated, but it is often argued otherwise. Commander
John Lawlor, who was in charge of the police covering
the demonstration, said “The organisers had no
control over their supporters and as a result the agreed
arrangements were not carried out. The demonstration
degenerated into a disorderly rabble.” These protestors,
similar to many of those across the US, were angered
by the Tet Offensive of January 1968, in which over
100 cities and towns in South Vietnam were mercilessly
attacked by North Vietnamese and Vietcong Forces.
This also sparked a demonstration in Paris in May 1968,
which was significantly worse than Grosvenor Square, as
well as protests in Berlin, Prague and Mexico City.
1968 Grosvenor Square
Anti-Vietnam War Riots
By Raffaella Culora
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