As a prelude to a massive antiwar protest, Vietnam Veterans Against the War begin a five-day demonstration in Washington, D.C. The generally peaceful protest, called Dewey Canyon III in honor of the operation of the same name conducted in Laos, ended on April 23 with about 1,000 veterans throwing their combat ribbons, helmets, and uniforms on the Capitol steps, along with toy weapons. Earlier, they had lobbied with their congressmen, laid wreaths in Arlington National Cemetery, and staged mock “search and destroy” missions.
On April 24, a massive rally of about 200,000 took place on the Mall in Washington, D.C. A simultaneous protest was held by 156,000 demonstrators in San Francisco, but that rally, described as the largest such protest to date on the West Coast, ended prematurely when militants took over the stage and protest coordinators were forced to cancel the last few speeches. The comparatively orderly demonstrations in Washington, D.C., ended on April 26 when the demonstrators changed their tactics to aggressive “people lobbying,” with the avowed purpose of “shutting down the government.” Five thousand police officers, backed by 12,000 troops, out-maneuvered the demonstrators and prevented them from blocking access to government buildings.