On October 21st, 1967, thousands of nonviolent activists attempted to levitate the Pentagon in an act of absurdist protest to the horrific absurdity of the Vietnam War. Originally conceived as a massive march on Washington, DC, the plans took a bizarre and memorable turn when activists Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman came up the concept of exorcising and levitating the Pentagon – and thereby ending the Vietnam War.
Activist/Writer Nadine Bloch wrote, “The action’s absurdism extended even to the process of securing a permit beforehand; the authorities finally agreed to allow the Pentagon to be elevated three feet in the air, down from the 300 feet that organizers had initially requested — but three feet is not nothing when you’re talking about the largest office building in the world!”
While several thousand federal troops and a couple hundred U.S. marshals stood guard to protect the Pentagon, Abbie Hoffman, Allen Ginsberg, the Fugs, and hundreds more of the 50,000-strong crowd of activists began to sing and chant. A group tried to storm the Pentagon. Hundreds were arrested. When evening fell, bonfires were lit from picket signs and they huddled around them to keep warm. In the morning, the peace activists decamped to the White House to wake President Johnson with morning chants and calls to end the war.
The Pentagon was not levitated on that day, nor was the Vietnam War ended. But the absurdity of war was duly noted by millions as the media reported on the absurd event. As for exorcising the Pentagon . . . it may be time for another attempt.
This article is from Rivera Sun’s book of nonviolent histories that have made our world. Click here for more information.
Rivera Sun is a change-maker, a cultural creative, a protest novelist, and an advocate for nonviolence and social justice. She’s a love-based revolutionary and the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, The Way Between and ten other fiction, non-fiction and poetry books. Her essays and writings are syndicated by Peace Voice, and have appeared in over a hundred journals nationwide. Rivera Sun speaks and facilitates workshops in strategy for nonviolent change across the country and around the world. She connects the dots between the issues, shares solutionary ideas, and inspires people to step up to the challenge of being a part of the story of change in our times. www.riverasun.com
Read more of Nadine Bloch’s reflection: http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/the-day-they-levitated-the-pentagon/
Photo Credit: Vietnam War Protesters at the 1967 March on the Pentagon By Frank Wolfe – Lyndon B. Johnson Library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19267316