Vietnam Protest Week, March 1966

A series of events called Vietnam Protest Week took place during the third week of March 1966. It was an initiative by the UQ campus-based Vietnam Action Committee (VAC) in which Brian Laver and Ralph and Gay Summy were prominent members. Non-campus organizations were involved, notably the Youth Campaign Against Conscription (YCAC) that organized a memorable draft-card burning event during this week of protest.

Tuesday 22nd March 1966:

On this day an event took place outside the United States Consulate in Queen Street. A demonstration was held outside while a delegation met with the consul (Mr. Sommer) inside. Ralph Summy is seen pictured in the newspaper report (below) returning to join the demonstration after the meeting with the US consul. No mention of any arrests, so it sounds like this particular event was relatively peaceful. Note the proportionably large police presence with almost 100 police for 200 demonstrators.

Thursday 24th March 1966:

A draft-card burning event occurred 2 days later with heavy arrests. It was held on the corner of Queen and Albert Streets in central Brisbane . It was a Youth Campaign Against Conscription (YCAC) demonstration organized by Kit Guyatt, one of the founding members of YCAC, along with co-founders Anne Rook and Jim Beatson. Most of the action took place between 5pm and 5:30pm. The event was televised live on television.

Jim Beatson had his right arm in plaster and was wearing a sling around his neck that day. Jim writes: I arrived at the corner trying to squeeze through the crowd. It's likely arrests had already commenced. The Police were at both my sides and treading on my heals before I got to the intersection's pavement edge. I arrived with only seconds to go. The Walk sign came on and I started to walk, police, Specials and uniforms, walking with me. I pulled the Card out from one pocket and lighter the other. That was as far as I got. The next thing I knew I was knocked from behind, my broken arm in plaster was twisted behind my back and I was frog marched towards the van, people everywhere and a lot of noise, mainly from workers booing the cops for their obvious behaviour. Did it hurt, yes, but the whole scene was so tumultuous as more were arrested being dragged backwards by their hair to waiting wagons, police taking the opportunity to do a bit of breast groping as was the norm then and later. I was thrown into a paddy wagon and quickly joined by others. I had hung onto my Draft Card but the lighter had a new owner. Matches were passed in through the grate and the card was lit.

The names of the 26 people arrested at the YCAC demonstration was published in the newspaper at the time. This list appeared on page 3 of the Telegraph on 25th March 1966, and also on page 13 of the Courier Mail on 26th March 1966. See the collection of newspaper reports below. A transcription of the published list (arranged alphabetically according to first name) is also included below. Some of those arrested were onlookers in the crowd.

Of the 26 arrested that day, one was discharged (Anthony Dominic Rooke) since he was underage (16) and therefore could not be tried in the Magistrates Court.

Sunday 27th March 1966:

A large march took place from Roma Street along Anne Street and ended with the rally in Centenary Place. The march was organized by the Vietnam Action Committee and had police approval. The march left the Roma Street area about 2:30pm and marched slowly down Anne Street with an estimated 1,000 people taking part. About 1,000 more supporters were waiting in Centenary Place for the rally that took place there after the marchers arrived.

Newspaper reports from Courier Mail and Telegraph (1.52MB)

Alan Doesn’t Get Arrested Again by Ted Reithmuller (34KB)

Published arrest list (62KB)