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U.S. Marshals Service

History -  U.S. Marshals and the Pentagon Riot of October 21, 1967

Anti-Vietnam war protestors rallied to Washington on Saturday, October 21,1967, in the first national demonstration against the war. The Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam organized the protest to get national visibility for the anti-war movement. Nearby, military policemen stood at ten-foot intervals around the Pentagon. Within the circle of MP's, 300 U.S. Deputy Marshals spent the day waiting. The Deputies were on hand to make any necessary arrests, a civilian power not normally bestowed on the military. Hidden inside the Pentagon and other government buildings were five to six thousand Army troops armed with rifles and bayonets.

U.S.Marshals at Pentagon, October 21, 1967

Saturday, 6:00 a.m. U.S. Marshals Arrive at Pentagon:

Throughout most of the day the Marshals relaxed. Many stored their nightsticks and small field packs along the Pentagon walls and lay in the grass, their heads pillowed on their white helmets.

 

No one knew what form the anti-war protest would take, whether peaceful or violent.  The picnic mood at the Lincoln Memorial changed during the long day of speeches and demonstrations. At 5:40 p.m., a  determined crowd of 35,000 headed for the Pentagon. A smaller segment at the front stormed forward, scaled the walls, and  forced their way into the Pentagon. The Deputies and soldiers were taunted and assaulted with vegetables, rocks, and bottles. The troops inside the Pentagon rushed outside as the violence escalated. A full-scale riot erupted.

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