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May 3, 1971 – The day some 7,000 anti-war demonstrators were arrested outside the Washington Monument and at various points during the mass demonstration, intent on shutting down the entire city. Numbers of those taking part were estimated at over 10,000 while Police, Federal Troops and other armed Military personnel numbered over 10,000. The sheer number of those arrested quickly packed the city jails – the overflow of arrested demonstrators were herded into football stadiums, baseball fields and indoor arenas where they were processed and booked. It was the single largest mass arrest of protestors in U.S. history and the manner in which those who were arrested were taken into custody brought storms of indignation and cries of “Gestapo” to those wielding clubs and firing teargas canisters, while President Nixon congratulated the Police on their handling of the situation. Estimates ranged up to three days for all the arrested to be processed. And despite the mass arrests, which included Rennie Davis, one of the leaders of the march, protest spokespeople said there would be more to come the following days.
Meanwhile, the results of a new national public opinion poll were released. The survey polled more than 1800 households across the country two weeks earlier and found that 60% of those questioned supported the continued troop withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, even if the South Vietnamese government collapsed. And 58% said it was morally wrong to be fighting in Vietnam. It compared with an earlier Gallup poll which put the number at 73% favoring continued troop withdrawal and wanted all the troops out by the end of the year.
And East Germany’s Walter Ernst Karl Ulbricht, resigned as First Secretary of the East German Communist Party Central Committee this day. Ulbricht gave his aides his age (77 years) as his reason for stepping aside. Ulbricht had run East Germany since 1950. Erich Honecker was slated to succeed Ulbricht.
And that’s a little of what went on, this rather momentous 3rd day of May in 1971, as reported by NBC Nightly News.