Norman Mailer Wouldn't Duck and Cover

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May 11, 1960, Vol. V, No. 29

Hundreds Risk Jail

City Hall Park and Greenwich Village last week were the scenes of two mass demonstrations. They proved that a considerable number of New Yorkers were prepared to engage in civil disobedience, or at least picket, to express their aversion to Civil Defense air-raid drills.

The first demonstration, at City Hall, was held to protest the nation-wide drill. The second, in front of the Women's House of Detention on Greenwich Avenue, sprung up as a protest against the arrest of 26 people in the City Hall affair. In addition, hundreds of other New Yorkers were involved in similar acts of defiance in the form of picketing and college campus demonstrations throughout the city.

The drill was held at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3. Prior to this, the Civil Defense Protest Committee announced that its members would not obey the drill order to take shelter. It did so on the grounds that such action is useless under hydrogen-bomb attack, and that such exercises only delude the public into a false sense of security...

On Tuesday, committee members and sympathizers crowded into the park in front of City Hall, in preparation for the drill. Each knew he was liable to arrest for refusing to take shelter. Novelists Norman Mailer and Kay Boyle, Dorothy Day and Ammon Hennacy of the Catholic Worker, Dwight Macdonald, and Socialists David McReynolds and the Reverend A.J. Muste were among the crowd...

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]

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