Less than a quarter mile from where president Nixon was born, approximately 200 people gathered last Saturday for a morning of speeches, folk-rock music aimed at “informing people how to go about impeaching a president,” according to rally spokesmen.
The impeach Nixon rally plans emerged on the local scene approximately two weeks ago when a group of students, with legal backing from the Southern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union—approached the local Chamber of Commerce concerning use of Nixon Park for the rally.
Chamber members reluctantly approved the use of the park, but issued a statement spelling out opposition to the goals of the group, and declaring that the choice of the Nixon Park site constituted “cheap grandstanding.”
The grandstanding at Nixon Park Saturday, however, came off smoothly and without incident under the eye of about four plainclothes city police and city councilman Hank Wedaa.
An audience of about 200—they seemed to be mostly students although the crowd was peppered with older people—relaxed on the grass as the Orange County Committee to Impeach President Nixon staged a two and one-half hour program of speakers including a professor from California State at Fullerton, a number of committee representatives, ACLU speakers, a representative from the AFL-CIO and a representative of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Keith Voyum, a CSUF professor and expert on constitutional law was first in a line up of speakers. Voyum stressed the importance of what he termed “political will” in influencing Congressional action on the impeachment issue.
Voyum won applause as he listed English Common Law principles that would serve as guidelines to judge a national leader, including abuse of official power, misuse of the office for personal gain and betrayal of the trust of the people.
Next speaker, Pete Remmel of the AFL-CIO, centered his speech on the union's statement calling for resignation of the president, recently adopted at the Miami Convention.
“If Mr. Nixon does not resign, we call upon the House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings against him,” Remmel read from the AFL-CIO resolution.
“We are not against the Republican Party,” Remmel explained, “but we are against Richard Nixon and the position he and his constituents have taken.”
An ACLU representative, Jay Merley, gave voice to the Civil Liberties Union hard line position against the president.
“If it is any surprise to you, the ACLU fully supports this rally,” he said.
If you think a rally to discuss impeachment is “cheap grandstanding” has anyone seen any of his press conferences lately?” queried Merle.
The ACLU observer said that the Impeachment Committee was planning a bike trek to San Clemente.
“Maybe a bike trek of that kind is just the kind of cheap grandstanding we need to get that jerk out of office.”
Another committee member John Koenigshofer noted, “perhaps it would be appropriate at this time to tell President Nixon he doesn't have the American People to kick around anymore.”
Another ACLU representative, Stam Scheinbaum suggested a letter writing campaign to congressmen to pull support for the impeachment move.
Scheinbaum contended that many people are reluctant to support the impeachment due to a fear that it could disrupt governmental functions. “Get rid of Nixon first—then if you get Ford or Albert and they don't work out you can move on to impeach them,” he stated.
Keynote speaker of the day was Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California.
“Richard Nixon leaves us no choice but to impeach him,” she stated. “Neither I nor ACLU are asking for his conviction, we are merely asking that he take the stand. We are asking that he answer for what he has done.”
The rally broke up peacefully at about 12:30; a few stayed to hear last strains of the rock group, “Analog,” others talked quietly in small groups.
Members of the Richard Nixon School PTA quietly and efficiently doled out hot soup to earn money for audio-visual equipment for the school.
Other Yorba Lindans were scarce. “Yorba Linda councilman Hank Wedaa was on the scene for about an hour.
“This rally has been widely advertised, not only in the papers, but in the universities and so on. Now, at 11:00—an hour after start time, I have counted the house and there are only 200 people present. Essentially, as far as I can see, it has turned out to be a big flop,” was Wedaa's opinion.
“I think we should support our president. Too many people are willing to believe he's guilty before facts are heard. Let's get off his back,” Wedaa said.
to previous section
to next section