"Hell no, we won't go . . . Hell no, we won't go" -- the familiar Vietnam-era chant drifted once again over Lafayette Square yesterday as more than 200 youthful demonstrators rallied against President Carter's proposal to revive registration for the draft.
The hastily called protest was the first mounted against the White House just across Pennsylvania Avenue NW from Lafayette Square since Carter made the proposal in his state of the union address last Wednesday night.Organizers from the Washington Peace Center said there will be more such demonstrations.
Several dozen other antidraft demonstrators also rallied yesterday at Georgetwon University, where Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), competing with Carter for the Democratic presidential nomination, spoke out against a peacetime draft.
The protesters at Lafayette Square, a diverse band of pacifists, Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, libertarians, feminists, unaligned students and a few Maoists, marched, sang folk songs and shouted antiwar slogans, evoking misty scenes from a decade ago.
"Stop registration, stop registration," chanted one segment of the crowd, as another shouted "Peace Now," and a third, openly revolutionary faction screamed, "To hell with national honor, turn the guns around."
"Registration is the first step to war, and we don't want a war," Tom Hamill, a University of Maryland student, said to t he cheering crowd.
"There are 300 to 400 of us here today. There'll be thousands coming in the future," said Frank Jackalone, head of the U.s. sTudents Association, one of the chief organizers of the rally. U. S. Park Police estimated the crowd in the park yesterday at 225.
Several speakers, most of whom said they are students, condemned U.S. involvement in the Middle East. "We don't want to fight an imperialist war for the big oil companies," Hamill said.
Another speaker, a member of the radical Vietnam Veterans Against the War sho identified himself only as "Kai," triggered boos and denunciations when he called for "civil war" in the United States against the "capitalist bloodsuckers." Rally organizers quickly disassociated themselves from the speaker.
Most of those in the crowd said they were students from American University, George Washington University and the University of Maryland, but there also was a scattering of high school students.
"We don't believe we should be drafted," said Miriam Schuster, one of about 25 students who came downtown from Sandy Spring Friends School in Montgomery County. "There are problems in the world, but killing is not the way to solve them."
"Nobody should be drafted -- men or women," said Marion Banzhaf, of the D.C. Area Feminist Alliance. "The political leaders are trying to divert women into supporting the draft in the name of equality . . . The effect of that is to divide the feminist movement. The point is nobody should be drafted."
Jane Midgley, coordirector of the Washington Peace Center, a longtime antiwar organization here, said in an interview that yesterday's rally was pulled together to create a quick response to Carter's proposal. She said activists used a telephone "network" to alert political groups on local college campuses and distributed 2,500 to 3,000 flyers advertising the rally.
At Georgetown University, Sen. Kennedy got a mixed reaction from conservative and liberal students when he said: "I opposed the peacetime draft -- and I also oppose the president's plan for registration -- which is the first step in direction. . . We should not be moving toward the brink of sending another generation of young to die for the failures of the old in foreign policy."