Peace Marchers Count Heads: 560 Still Looking for Support

Times Staff Writer

The Great Peace March, stalled and struggling to live up to its name, received more promises of support Saturday, but few tangible provisions arrived to bolster the faltering demonstration.

In addition to small amounts of food brought in by occasional visitors, the most important acquisition Saturday was a permit allowing the marchers to occupy a campsite in Barstow. Leaders hope that marchers will be able to move to that site today.

Beset by financial problems that caused the collapse of PROPeace, the trek's sponsoring agency, the marchers have been stuck since Monday in an encampment eight miles south of here, their ranks thinning by the day. A head count found 560 marchers remaining from the 1,400 who left Los Angeles March 1 for a planned 3,000-mile cross-country journey.

Attempting to raise funds under a new corporation called The Great Peace March for Nuclear Disarmament Inc., march leaders are trying to arrange to get the marchers to Las Vegas and replace a truck kitchen, portable sanitation facilities and other equipment that is to be seized Monday by creditors.

Despite the problems, spirits remain high among marchers. One of the 30 marchers who officially checked out Saturday was 69-year-old Harry Bortin of Whittier, suffering from an infected blister.

"I think I'd be more of a hindrance than a help," Bortin said. "The march has been terrific. I'm going to try to raise money for the (new) corporation."

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