The demonstrations were huge, loud and bitter and the nation was divided when Brock Young returned hom from his third tour of duty in Vietnam.
Today, the veteran Salt Lake police officer serves on the home front, where it is his job to preserve the peace and defend the rights of a new generation of demonstrators.Young, who has been working special crowd control duty since the Persian Gulf War began, concedes that he carries "some baggage in may pack ," but says his personal views don't interfere with his job.
"I don't necessarily agree with them, but I feel they have a right to do it," Young said.
He and as many as 25 other officers from the motorcycle, traffic and patrol divisions have been assigned to maintain order as local anti- and pro-war demonstrators express themselves and sometimes clash in downtown Salt Lake City.
The officers have had extensive training in crowd control and have had "refresher courses" in recent weeks to sharpen their skills. They have encountered no violence to date but Young believes the potential for confrontation exists and may increase as the war escalates and soldiers die.
"So far, the demonstrations have been well organized and peaceful," Young said. "Those involved have been very cooperative, even cordial." At one rally, participants introduced themselves to the police and shook their hands.
The purpose of a demonstration is to call public attention to a paricular point of view, and Young doesn't object to the technique except when the activities violate the law or put citizens at risk. Buring the American flag, for example, is likely to provoke an emotional and possibly violent response, and Young advises people to refrain from doing it.