Hundreds Rock Against Reagan at Sunday Concert
Monday, August 13, 1984
Hundreds Rock Against Reagan at Sunday Concert
By Joshua Quittner
Journal Staff Writer
2 Photos, not shown here, captioned:
1) Evette Justus, David Crockett Williams Jr. Chant Sunday
as part of Peace Caravan, Couple Chant Under "Peace Pole"
2) Rally Coordinator Ben Yamin
An American flag was spread on the ground like a picnic blanket
while some of the concert organizers argued about what to do
Fifteen feet away, a pair of grinning young men with shaved heads,
oblivious to the political struggle behind them, readied the bands'
A young woman with three colors of hair on her head and a
gold-ball earring in her nose hawked political-slogan buttons
and Twisted Music Magazine from a table nearby. And some
Yippies were sitting together in a swatch of shade, stretching
their muscles and checking things out.
All told, hundreds of people came to Tiguex Park at the
northeast corner of Old Town on Sunday afternoon for
the Rock Against Reagan concert. They were as different
from each other as wild flowers.
"It's a symbol of nihilism, absolute nihilism," howled a
large woman as she pointed at the big American flag,
that a thin man began pulling off the ground. With
his friends, he meekly disagreed with her. But the
woman argued louder and prevailed: the flag was
What all that had to do with Rock Against Reagan
was anybody's guess.
National coordinators Ben Yamin, Laura Thompson,
and David Whitaker explained that the name "Rock
Against Reagan" is merely a rallying cry -- a means
of joining disparate segments of the country for peace.
The idea behind the road concerts is to swell the ranks
of a coalition called the Peace Caravan.
"A lot of the people you see here are part of the
Peace Caravan," said Ms. Thompson. The caravan
is comprised of a few dozen cars and vans. "There's
about 100 people, and we gain some in every place
we stop. There's the Rainbow Nation (not to be
confused with the Rainbow Coalition), the Yippies --
there is a whole busload of them -- The Alliance for
"The issue," chimed in Yamin, "is that 41,000 people
die of starvation every day. This is beginning to be
the answer to that."
The Peace Caravan has sponsored Rock Against Reagan
concerts across the nation since the fist one in California
in March 1983, Ms. Thompson said. If Reagan is re-elected,
"we'll continue. Maybe we'll call it "Rock Against Bureaucracy"
or "Rock Against Capitalism," she said. "Democrats start
wars as often as Republicans."
The caravan moves to Dallas today to set up a "tent city"
in anticipation of the Republican Convention. The group is
expecting in excess of 15,000 anti-Reagan demonstrators.
And the city has built a chain-link fence to surround the
tent city to keep expected protestors confined. Also,
police dogs have been put through crowd-control exercises
and two hundred officers received training in the use of
riot sticks and gas masks. Albuquerque's concert was peaceful,
however, as groups sat under trees or danced to the music,
provided by local and out-of-state bands.
"You see, there's a sine wave of history," explained Yamin.
"We were up in the '60's, down in the '70's and ready for
the explosion in the '80's. There will be an explosion of
peace soon -- but we donít know when."
Yamin is a wiry, blue-eyed 23-year old who bounds from
topic to topic with enthusiasm. He said he was raised in
Oakland, Calif., and educated, in part, at the University
of California in Berkeley. "I dropped out," he said simply.
"I didn't tell my parents or anything. When I heard about
the caravan, that was all there was to it. This is where
the action is."
"Did you see the Peace Pole yet? Come on, I'll show you,"
Yamin said as he walked to the south side of the park.
"Did you know that in 1947, the word "everything"
wasn't even in the dictionary? Interesting, very interesting."
Yamin said he cleared out his savings account and joined
the caravan. Like the rest of the members, though, he
used up his cash. Now, he said, he lives by his wits,
sleeping wherever he can, eating whatever he finds,
relying on the kindness of strangers. "I don't believe
in coincidence -- everything that happens to me
was meant to happen."
Under the Peace Pole sat Evette Justus and
David Crockett Williams Jr., gently pounding a
drum and chanting a Buddhist mantra. "They started
doing that in May of 1983," Yamin whispered. "That's
their Dharma -- they do it whenever we stop. We
stopped at a rest station in Phoenix and set up the
pole and started chanting."
He said the chant is for peace. "The universe works
by having a vision and going out there. That's what
I'm doing. That's what everyone should do."