ROTC Off Campus: U MD 1971
Images of antiwar protests at the University of Maryland in May 1971 are contained in this set. Mass protests against the war broke out for the second consecutive year that brought National Guard troops to the campus that essentially imposed martial law.

The spring of 1971 brought a renewed offensive by those opposed to the Vietnam War. Groups of activists led by “Yippies” sought to conduct non-violent civil disobedience by blocking key roads into and out of the federal center of Washington, D.C. beginning on May 1.

In the middle of the Mayday Tribe events was a rally called on the UMD campus May 5 by the ad hoc Spring Action Coalition composed of various student groups. It was attended by over 3,000 students who during the course of the day briefly occupied the Administration building and blockaded US Route 1.

The demonstration had been called to end the ROTC program on campus, ratify the People’s Peace Treaty negotiated between Vietnamese students and US students the previous winter and to end to defense research on campus. Amnesty and an end to police surveillance were added to the demands later.

State police confronted the demonstrators on Route 1 and a pitched battle ensued. The Governor called in the National Guard for the second straight year. Cat and mouse battles with the Guard continued into the night.

Over the next several weeks, students defied Guard regulations that banned gatherings of more than 100 and held numerous demonstrations across the campus, briefly seizing several buildings and attempting to seize others before being ejected by the Guard.

Police and university officials targeted those they thought were leaders, arresting them and/or banning them from campus.

When Chancellor Charles Bishop attempted a speech on the steps of the Administration Building May 12, he was interrupted repeatedly with chants of “ROTC must go.” Several eggs were also thrown at Bishop.

The students achieved a temporary victory May 19 when the University Senate voted 83-56 to reduce ROTC from a credit activity to a non-credit, extra curricula activity. The decision, however, was reversed a week later on a 52-31 vote after the Air Force objected saying it violated their policy.

The People’s Peace Treaty’s terms were similar in some ways to those ultimately adopted by the four-party Paris Peace talks ending US ground troop involvement in the Vietnam War in January 1973.

The images in this set were not part of the original Washington Area Spark collection and have been added to give context to the time period. They have been scanned from original photographs except for the image of the Armory which was copied from Wikipedia Commons.
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