The official sponsor of the Great Peace March disbanded today, as a small band of marchers remained in their tents at the edge of the Mojave Desert discussing how to continue to Washington, D.C., on their own.
Jim Blevins, a spokesman for PRO-Peace (People Reaching Out for Peace), said the group failed to raise the $100,000 necessary for food, water and supplies to get the approximately 1,000 marchers across the desert into Nevada. "It's real, real sad," said Bobbi Cowan, a spokeswoman for the group.
Blevins said the organization had spent the $4 million it raised to set up the project, conceived as a high-technology mini-city that would move across the country collecting names of supporters and raising interest in the destruction of nuclear weapons. Fund-raisers who collected more than $20,000 a day before the march began March 1 found that donations had dropped to $4,000 a day after its shaky start.
Blevins said he thought fund-raising had been hurt by publicity about the march's difficulties in finding insurance and its internal conflicts. On Thursday, creditors repossessed the group's two trucks, which were carrying water and medical supplies, making a full-scale desert crossing impossible.
About 200 to 400 marchers remained determined to continue, however, Blevins said. They have regrouped as the Great Peace March Inc. and are trying to raise enough money for a small core of marchers to continue. "If they make it, it will still be a great triumph," he added.
Blevins said he did not know how his group's failure would affect continuing national efforts to end the arms race.
Today, PRO-Peace staffers here were rapidly vacating their offices, which they said had to be empty by 5 p.m.
Blevins said the organization's founder, veteran Democratic Party political organizer David Mixner, drove out to the desert to tell the marchers of his fund-raising failure.
The march was once envisioned as a corps of 5,000 people with traveling day-care facilities, a health clinic, radio station and computer center.