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Friday February 24, 2017
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Homecoming, 1965

 

continued

The nonviolent scene inside the draft board office contrasted sharply with the tense situation on the street below. A crowd of about five hundred had gathered, some in support of the demonstrators, others in angry opposition. Insults were traded, and a few scuffles broke out. Fifty law officers were called in to keep order, nightsticks drawn, as the arrestees were carried down the stairs to a waiting police van.

Similarly heated face-offs between protesters and counter-protesters took place throughout the weekend. In addition to the destruction of the float, a protester holding an antiwar sign along the parade route was attacked by three bullies who beat him bloody. Police were slow to break up the one-sided battle and did nothing to prevent the attack on the float. When asked to intervene, one officer reportedly refused, saying that he had served three years in the Marines.

"The student body can now say that it has about two hundred students who are willing and most pleased to attack violently anyone (women included) who is opposed to the U.S. policy in Vietnam," a witness to the assault on the float wrote in a letter to the Michigan Daily. "Ann Arbor now knows that it has a police force which will stand by while people are being attacked and refuse to protect them. I am now very much afraid to be a student here. So would anyone who saw the faces of those patriots who so valiantly attacked the float. There was pure murder on those faces."

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