Great Peace March Resumes after 12-Day Hiatus
BARSTOW, Calif. (AP) _ With an influx of $60,000 and new equipment on the way, nearly 300 people resumed the Great Peace March early Friday, 12 days after the cross-country protest against nuclear weapons almost fell apart in the California desert.
The marchers left a camp here at 6:45 a.m., beginning a 10-day hike to Las Vegas, Nev., said march spokeswoman Elizabeth Fairchild.
″The marchers were so happy to be leaving this morning,″ she said. ″It’s a very high-spirited group. This is a group that stuck together through all the problems. Everyone was real excited.″
California Highway Patrol officers escorting the marchers counted 275 to 300 people, said CHP dispatcher Marylou Padilla.
Friday was the first day the activists for global nuclear disarmament marched under their new organization - Great Peace March for Nuclear Disarmament Inc. The group wants to complete a 3,235-mile march to Washington to inspire the world to put an end to nuclear weapons.
They began their trip as the People Reaching Out for Peace or PRO-Peace organization, but that group folded in financial disarray two weeks ago and the ranks of the marchers dropped from around 1,200 participants.
The new organization has raised $60,000 since it was founded, which should be enough money to get the march to Las Vegas, Ms. Fairchild said.
″I am confident that more money will come in now that we’re moving,″ she said. ″Some people were taking a wait-and-see attitude to make sure we were going to go.″
Ms. Fairchild said the group had purchased or was in the final stages of buying trailers, a portable kitchen and portable toilets. A water truck had been leased for $850 a week, she said.
After PRO-Peace folded, the smaller group camped outside Barstow for several days and then moved to a bicycle race track in the town 100 miles east of Los Angeles. During the hiatus, the group lost possession of much of its support equipment.
When they left Friday, the marchers left a farewell message in red and blue paint on the junkyard fence next to the bicycle track - ″The Great Peace March thanks you. May peace be with you all, March 1986.″
Actor Robert Blake, who walked with the group from Los Angeles to Barstow, was at the camp Friday morning to see the marchers off, said spokesman Bill O’Neill.
Blake, the star of ″Baretta″ and ″Hell Town,″ told the marchers he would stay in Southern California to help raise money. Blake left the group shortly after it arrived in Barstow.