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From the Archives: Protesters denounce U.S. involvement in World War II

From the Archives: Protesters denounce U.S. involvement in World War II
June 8, 1940: Crowds gather at City Hall to urge the United States to stay out of World War II. ((Los Angeles Times))

Armed with posters — some stating "The Yanks Are Not Coming"— thousands gathered at a peace rally at Los Angeles City Hall in the summer of 1940.

A Los Angeles Times story the next morning began:

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Greeted by boos and a scattering of catcalls, Mayor [Fletcher] Bowron, invited by C.I.O. organizations to address a peace gathering at City Hall yesterday, told several thousand listeners:

"Common sense and American principles compel us to the conclusion that our fervent desire for peace in America must not be that kind of peace that will lend aid and succor to the forces of Nazism, Fascism, or Communism.

"When the time comes, I am proud to say that I am ready to fight for my country. …

As Bowron continued his speech, The Times article reported "boos swelled from hundreds of throats." But the rally ended peacefully.

On Sept. 4, 1940, the non-interventionist movement organized into the America First Committee. At its peak, the AFC had 800,000 dues-paying members. The organization folded days after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

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