Thousands Step Out for Peace
More than 4,000 marchers strode into Reading last night at the end of the first day of the great Easter peace trek due to end in Trafalgar Square on Monday afternoon. Veteran campaigner Canon John Collins was one of the personalities leading the march yesterday on the 13-mile route through country lanes from the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, Britain's H-bomb factory.
The four-day march - organized by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament - is the first full-scale one from Aldermaston to London since 1963. Canon Collins said he was taking part because he wished to show his agreement with the whole purpose of the march, and to identify himself with the aims of Dr Martin Luther King.* Said the Canon: "The aims of the march are much wider than when it first started. It is the rallying point for the whole peace movement over the Easter week-end."
* (Dr. Martin Luther King - an eminent Negro leader assassinated in the U. S. A. in 1968.)
Among others getting into their stride was Communist Party general secretary Mr John Gollan.* Folk singer Julie Felix joined too, and entertained marchers by singing We Shall Overcome.**
* ( John Gollan - b. 1911, General Secretary of the British Communist Party (from 1956).)
** (We Shall Overcome - a popular song of American Negroes which has now become a song of protest.)
Earlier, in bright midday sunshine, about 2,000 marchers had swung out from a field opposite the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Research Establishment. Hundreds joined hourly as the column wound its way along country lanes. Banners fluttered in a slight breeze as a strong force of nearly 200 policemen and guards swarmed around the marchers, and the research establishment. Huge rolls of barbed wire extended along the establishment's boundary fence, and guards with dogs stood in front of the ugly complex of pipes and chimneys. A barrier was put up across the perimeter road* to thin the flow of marchers. A TV camera for spying on people who came along the road was covered with green canvas. While the throng squatted for a teatime meeting outside the main gates, 150 policemen stood-in three long lines inside.
* (the perimeter road - the road encircling a building site.)
Immediately behind the leading mauve and yellow banner with C.N.D. symbol, came a black banner bearing a portrait of'the late Dr Martin Luther King. Marchers carried hundredsof little green and white flags, bearing the slogan: BREAK WITH U.S. WAR POLICIES.
Mr Booth told the meeting outside the factory: "We are here on behalf of the people of this country. The missiles that are produced at this establishment have such destructive power that should they ever be used on a large centre of population, they could destroy in a matter of seconds six million people."
C.N.D. vice-chairman Mrs Olive Gibbs asked: "What kind of Socialism is it that spends £ 50 million per year on Polaris,* enough to pay for the £ 25 million to be raised by prescription charges?" And Hiroshima victim,** 47-year old Mr Mashi Nii, who sold all his property in Japan to finance his current world peace tour, told marchers: "Today, 100 people die every year as a result of the Hiroshima Bomb."
* (Polaris - rockets installed in American atomic submarines located in Scotland; this caused mass demonstrations of protest all over the country.)
** (Hiroshima victim - on 6 August, 1945, the U. S. A. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, a Japanese city with a population of about half a million people, most of whom perished in the explosion, died later, and are still dying, as a result of the radiation. Hiroshima victims who are still alive formed an anti-atomic bomb committee; their aim is to draw the world public opinion to the horrors of atomic warfare.)
During the march, people signed a Martin Luther King Memorial Book which will be presented to Mrs Luther King as a tribute to the Negro leader.
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