In a demonstration inspired by the US civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, a People's Democracy march consisting mainly of students sets out for Derry from Belfast.

On 01 January 1969, a People's Democracy march left Belfast City Hall on a four-day march to Derry. This march did not have the backing of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), who supported the suspension of demonstrations.

The Loyal Citizens of Ulster, led by Major Ronald Bunting, issued a statement calling on, "all those who value their heritage" to take every possible action within the law to hinder and harass the "so-called civil rights marchers."

As about 40 students left Belfast under civil rights and People's Democracy banners, Bunting retaliated by leading a group of Loyalists carrying Union Jacks at the head of the march. The Loyalists chanted abuse before leaving the march on the outskirts of Belfast.