A coalition of major antiwar, civil rights, labor and other groups, backed by at least a dozen members of Congress, will stage the first national-scale protest rally here Saturday against President Carter's efforts to revive military draft registration.
The National Mobilzation the Draft (MAD) will lead what police say could be tens of thousands of students, labor unions members and assorted new and old activists in the antiwar movement in a march from the White House down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol.
Organizers hope to bring additional pressure against Carter's already faltering attempts to get Congress to earmark $13.3 million to implement registration of the nation's 19-and 20-year-old male for the draft.
The rally, to be coordinated with similar protests in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Minneapolis on Saturday, could attract up to 25,000 or more demonstrators, police say. MAD's official permit calls for 10,000, but police say chartered bus activity in cities throughout the East indicts a far greater number will be here.
Organizers have lined up three members of Congress -- Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.) and Reps. Robert Kastenmeirer (D-Wis.) and Ted Weiss (D-N.Y.) -- as speakers. A wide range of liberal-to-radical activists including socialist Michael Harrington, Black militant Stokely Carmichael and feminist and former member of Congress Bella Abzug, also are scheduled to make remarks.
Sponsors and endorsers of the rally also reflect the broad-based, crazy-quilt composition of the anti-draft coalition. Reminiscent of the Vietnam-era protest coalitions of a decade ago, they range from the Lutheran Peace Fellowship and Americans for Democratic Action to the War Resisters League, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, various feminist, libertarian, pacifist, homosexual, senior citizen and labor groups as will as the youth affiliates of the Communist Party USA and the Socialist Workers Party.
The rally comes at a time when President Carter's request for money to fund draft registration has already run into substantial opposition of Capitol Hill. It has also bumped against the congressional budget ceiling for the remainder of fiscal 1980. White House strategists are now dickering with key Senate and House committees to transfer the needed money from the Pentagon to Selective Services instead.
Organizers of Saturday's protest action say they do not believe the doubtful status of the president's request will diminish the numbers or enthusiasm at the rally.
"I don't believe it'll be cut back," said MAD spokeswoman Bobbi Spiegler, working out of crowded office space at the American Friends Service Committee building at 2121 Decatur Pl. NW. "There's no indication of that. In fact, it's just the opposite. More and more buses with people from out of town are signing up."
At least 250 buses carrying up to 12,500 people had been chartered by midday yesterday from New York, Boston, Baltimore, Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta and other cities, Spiegler said. Police say the number of buses may be greater than that.
Also, rally planners anticipate that thousands of additional protesters either live in the immediate Washington area or will come from further afield by train or private car -- a pattern typical of past large-scale demonstrations.
Saturday's rally is the first nationally organized action since Carter announced his draft proposal in late January. Several locally organized protests have occurred but drew no more than a few hundred supporters.
MAD organizers say protest enthusiasm continues strong despite Carter's difficulties because the president may still get what he wants, especially if the political-military situation deteriorates in Afghanistan, Iran or Israel.
Saturday's protesters are scheduled to rally at the Ellipse south of the White House at 11 a.m., then march down Pennsylvania Avenue at 12:30 p.m. to the west steps of the Capitol for a second rally and round of speeches and musical entertainment starting at 2 p.m.