Activism

With exception of getting exposed to Berkeley, Cody's Books, Mario Savio, Free Speech Movement, Sexual Freedom League, KPFA during 1964, and later attending a few demonstrations Veterans took part in against U.S. involvement in Vietnam, I ended up into Peace & Love.

I am a Vietnam Veteran, with honorable discharge and recommendation, who volunteered to serve our country during war [or what we were led to believe was war] and ended up becoming more of a Hippy because I was over-educated, liked history, knew none of what was tried in the past worked without people getting hurt, and realized progress was directed in reviewing alternatives to "History Repeating Itself!"



Leading up to the following picture story it is very important to remember:

I was not an activist, in anyway,
or involved with activism.

... I was too busy having Hippie fun and writing some of the first major computer systems used on an IBM 360/20 (period).




Peoples Park 1969 ~ http://vimeo.com/15156510



May 15, 1969 - Bloody Thursday
Republicans, with Democrat Support, Authorize Murder of Students:
Orders issued by Ronald W. Reagan and Richard M. Nixon

You have probably seen the above title posted here over the years and here is why.

Early on Thursday morning May 15, 1969, after returning from an "Angels of Light" party with Allen Ginsberg, "Home, Home, Home," harmonium, Blake phase, a friend and I drank what we thought was a half bottle of orange juice someone had left in the refrigerator.

Just as we were 'downing' the last gulp of juice, a boyfriend of one of the women at the house came into the kitchen and said, "Where did you get that juice from?"

As it turned out, the orange juice contained a quarter ounce of mescaline sulfate and we were on our way to being thoroughly dosed.

Seeing it was going to be one of those 'sunshine daydream' mornings, we headed down Telegraph Ave. toward UC Berkeley, where we would take a right at the clock tower, walk up to Tilden Park, and hang out at the lake for the day.

About one half block from the campus we heard, what sounded like, gun shots and saw a large group of screaming people running toward us. Not knowing what to do, we began running South with the crowd.

People's Park
Photo: Kathryn Bigelow
Source: http://www.peoplespark.org/69gall4.html

Needless to say, we were not involved with these politics, this experience was horrible, and all we wanted to do was 'get out of there'. We ran back down Telegraph Avenue, towards Dwight Way, and as we are in front of a little bookstore called "Ma's Revolution" the police started shooting ..and I hear a woman screaming from the roof, "You've killed him, you've killed him!" This is when James Rector died and Alan Blanchard lost his sight.

People's Park
Photo: Ron Stinnett
Source: http://www.peoplespark.org/69gall6.html

People's Park
Photo: Kathryn Bigelow,
"about two minutes after James Rector was shot"
Source: http://www.peoplespark.org/69gall6.html

People's Park
Photo: Kathryn Bigelow.
About 20 minutes after Alan Blanchard was shot.
Source: http://www.peoplespark.org/69gall6.html

We continued running south and stopped a little past Dwight Way in front of a 'finish it yourself' furniture store to collect our thoughts.

As we stood there, we saw police setting up what looked like a big gun on a tripod, which turned out to be a pepper gas cannon.

As the police were starting to point it at the crowd, something happened causing the cannon to trigger and fire some sort of explosive.

Whatever it fired, it hit a car about 10 feet away from us in the back window and exploded; causing the car to burst into flames.

People's Park
Photo: Ed Krishner
Source: http://www.peoplespark.org/69gall4.html

We ran around the corner on Dwight Way and headed East, but no matter which way we headed, the police forced us back to Telegraph Avenue.

As we were running south on Telegraph Avenue, again, we passed a used car business and I remembered there were stairs in the back lot that led to the next street.

We ran up the steps and along side of the large apartment building (pictured below). When we got to the street, we saw more police headed our way, so we ducked into the garage of that large apartment, went to the back, and hid underneath a large panel truck.

People's Park
Photo: Ron Stinnet
Source: http://www.peoplespark.org/69gall5.html

We lay on the cement floor waiting for the darkness of night and the effects of the 'orange juice' to wear off.

When it got dark we snuck through backyards to the house from where we had started and I will never forget my 'imposed' May 15, 1969 People's Park experience; it caused me to become "active."

"By this time THEY had pissed me off and I put my body on the line!":

People's Park
For those who know, it should be easy to locate me in the above photograph by Dick Corten
Source: http://www.peoplespark.org/69gall8.html

Clicking here will take you to the beginning of the pictorial history of "People's "starting with, "Making the Park - May 1969."

Reference: Welcome to a Celebration of People's Park Source: http://www.peoplespark.org/ [click to visit].

History Page: http://www.peoplespark.org/history.html [click here].

In my opinion, People's Park, Jackson State, and Kent State student murders, by Republicans with Democrat support, were what caused "War Babies," etc. to retreat to the safety of their Victorian, middle class, parental upbringing; the same ones who later evolved into a "Prozac Nation."

Addendum

Answers to personal email questions asked more than once:

What was going on in your minds when you wrote, "We lay on the cement floor waiting for the darkness of night and the effects of the 'orange juice' to wear off. " ?

We giggled a lot because our previous experience allowed us to see 'the greater humor of the, as Ram Dass called it, "Mellow Drama" we were involved in', and ;-) I said it was a horrible, ... not a mind shattering experience (-; !!!

"Who was the other person?"

The "other person" is still alive and has held an impressive position within corporate media for a very long time; i.e., why the name is being withheld. We still keep in touch.

Following video contains reference to "Sunshine Daydream"


Sugar Magnolia, Grateful Dead from Dru Korab ~ https://vimeo.com/70306726



Volunteers for Global Climate Action (VGCA) October 24, 2009
+ Replacing Toxic Energies Optimally +
March 27, 2009

US ECO-MOVEMENT'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY - 3
by Keith Lampe

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Today's installment from my issue number two of Earth Read-Out (ERO) at the end of May '69 gives us an opportunity to understand how much more confidence people had in themselves then than now. For example, do AFT locals talk now the way they talked then? Or do high-ranking U-C officials talk now the way Robert Greenway (all honor to his name) talked then? Or does the despicable Washington Post ever play a positive role at rallies as it did at this one?

And this information is critically important today--especially for our last hope, the campus generation. It helps all of us grok that in fact we've been enormously dumbed-down and intimidated.

Given the intense uncompromising integrity of this teach-in, it's quite easy to understand why the MIAC (Military-Industrial-Academic Complex) thought it necessary a year later to murder four peaceful students at Kent State, then make a point of not punishing the murderers. They needed strong writing on the wall:

We'll kill you whenever we wish and nobody's gonna stop us.

Please note that you can learn hardly anything about this immensely important stuff in the twerpy-hustler Limited Hangout "alternate" histories of Howard Zinn and Carolyn Baker.

I must confess that I hadn't read my material for many years and--though I expected to find it quite significant for our current times--I am blown by just how significant it in fact is. I almost wish I'd let Herder & Herder publish it back in '70. But as you can see from the spirit of the times--so many people (mainly hippies and hardly any leftists) gallantly taking-it-to-the-limit over and over again!--my role as a socalled environmental leader (ERO quickly became the central info vehicle for the movement and remained so till autumn '70) was to try to force the sleazy corporate publishing world to start being transparent about their various immensely negative eco impacts. Today it is even more important that they start doing so.

Now that you understand how much was happening environmentally in the late '60s aren't you at least a bit exasperated when the pimps and whores of CNN, etc, act like they invented TEC (True Environmental Concern) a few years ago? Or when Bill McKibben acts like he invented it twenty years ago?

Yours for waking to the quantum ether,
Keith Lampe aka Pondo
Volunteer and Complete Unknown

EARTH READ-OUT
(#002:29V69)
May 29, 1969
by Keith Lampe

About 2000 persons attended--off and on--a six-hour teach-in on "Ecology and Politics in America" May 28 on the U-C Berkeley campus.

Idea was to relate the People's Park issue to broader questions of planetary survival.

A lot of language under a hot sun--but hopefully the thing will get made into a book to help people past the old politics and into a root politics of ecology.

Sponsors were American Federation of Teachers locals 1474 and 1795. Their leaflet for the occasion put it succinctly where it's at:

"The battle for a people's park in Berkeley has raised questions that go far beyond the immediate objects of public attention. They are questions about the quality of our lives, about the deterioration of the environment and about the propriety and legitimacy of the uses to which we put our land. The questions raised by this issue reach into two worlds at once: the world of power, politics and the institutional shape of American society on the one hand, and the world of ecology, conservation and the biological shape of our environment on the other.

"The People's Park is a mirror in which our society may see itself. A country which destroys Vietnam in order to liberate it sees no paradox in building fences around parks so that people may enjoy them. It is not at all ironic that officers of the law uproot shrubbery in order to preserve the peace. It is the way of the world! Trees are anarchic; concrete and asphalt are orderly and tractable. Defoliation is Civilization!

"Our cities are increasingly unlivable. The ghettos are anathema to any form of human existence. Our back country is no retreat; today's forest is tomorrow's Disneyland. Our rivers are industrial sewers; our lakes are all future resorts; our wildlife are commercial resources.

"The history of America is a history of hostility and conquest. We have constituted ourselves socially and politically to conquer and transform nature. We measure 'progress' in casualties, human and environmental, in bodies of men or board-feet of lumber.

"Ecology and politics are no longer separate or separable issues. . ."

Biggest mindblow of the day came from Robert Greenway, vice president for academic planning at U-C Santa Cruz. Greenway's contract isn't to be renewed because he's acting up--and the U-C regents got a court order forbidding him to make speeches because he's "inflammmatory".

Greenway told his audience "we have to go down to People's Park Friday with our women, children and neighbors and we have to say we're going to pull up the fence--gently--and then say to the National Guard 'Go ahead and shoot'".

Greenway said the fight for People's Park is part of a larger fight for physical and psychic space: "We must take every shred of university land that's not already built and make it a park."

He invited everybody down to Santa Cruz "where we have 3000 acres for dancing and singing and holding each other--and it would take them a year to fence it".

Prof. Sim van der Ryn, a member of the U-C Berkeley Chancellor's Committee on Environment, explained why we often have heavily polluted air in the Bay Area even during early morning hours: the air-pollution surveillance bureaucrats do only a 9-to-5 thing, so most of the biggest industries release their poisons after dark or in early morning.

Van der Ryn reminded everybody that DDT is killing enormous numbers of crabs on the West Coast, that high concentrations of DDT have been found even in High Sierra lakes--and that lots of people get busted for LSD, but nobody for DDT.

Dr. Tom Bodenheimer warned that DDT may get banned but be replaced by something even worse--that there are certain pesticides in use now (e.g., Parathion) which originally were developed as nerve gases. He said pesticides are the direct cause of about 150 deaths annually in the U.S. He said the nerve-gas leak which killed 6000 sheep in Utah last year might well have wiped out much of Salt Lake City also if it hadn't been for a shift in the wind.

Bodenheimer said the concentrations of CS gas on the Berkeley campus are probably still so great that "next time it rains it'll be like a gas attack." [Ed. Note: he refers here to the spraying of gaseous toxins onto innocent students by the infamous U.S. military.] He said the regime possibly soon may try to control demonstrations entirely from the air. He said the regime considers students, like insects, to be pests.

Cliff Humphrey of (Berkeley) Ecology Action said he plans to turn his auto into a piece of sculpture so it can't continue poisoning the air. "My Rambler is a pig," Humphrey said. "There are all kinds of pigs."

Dennis Maynis, a mountain climber, told the audience he's been watching Yosemite being destroyed. "They've paved trails, ripped out trees and flowers--but we're watched by telescope to make sure we don't break any rules."

Barry Weisberg, of the Bay Area institute, said 95% of all fresh water on the planet is being used faster than it's being replaced. He said Amerika constitutes only 7% of the world's population--but is presently consuming about 70% of the world's resources.

Landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, who was busted several weeks ago trying to stop Army engineers from wrecking Tamalpais Creek in the name of flood control, equated the creek with People's Park: 'each little blade of grass is important."

Wolf von Eckhart, architectural critic of the Washington Post, sent a wire saying "the city belongs to the people".

Folk singer Malvina Reynolds sang "God Bless the Grass."

Paul Goodman sent a wire from New York expressing outrage at "the vandalism committed by the authorities".

Jane Jacobs sent a wire from New York saying universities traditionally have used parks as a cover-story for land grabs in order to "lull lazy liberals". To those battling for People's Park she said "be brave but be careful: against armor and sadism your weapon must be ingenuity".

Among many other speakers was Stanley Smart, a Paiute who recently was busted for--dig--hunting without a license. "We don't believe in the white man's law," he said.

Forester Don Harkins urged street people to spend some time in the wilderness. He said he knew that some street people thought the wilderness was counterrevolutionary--"but they'll pull a lot of power into themselves by getting out there." He offered to teach street people how to move through snow and storms in mountains.

Poet Gary Snyder said we must "recover gut knowledge of our relationship to nature" through which "nature becomes the supernatural". He called for establishment of an "Earth People's Park because nations and corporations are not going to do anything because it calls for renunciation instead of profit and growth".

He said the Soviet Union, China, Amerika and Europe all are equally culpable.

Of the Amerikan scene he said "the materialistic, exploitative, white-western mentality swept across the continent east to west, destroying the passenger pigeon, the bison, the indian and the topsoil till finally it came right up to the Pacific and polluted the offshore waters there.

"Now it is time for us symbolically to become indians--people of this land--and take Amerika back from west to east. People's Park is the first little piece of liberated territory in Amerika and I hope we keep going and take the whole thing."

Poet Lew Welch said: "My goddess is Mt. Tamalpais and I sit on the rocks of her slopes and ask her questions and she gives me answers. . . the last cliff on the continent. . . This is the Last Place. . . There is Nowhere Else to Go. . . There is Nowhere Else We Need to Go."



May 15, 1969: "Bloody Thursday"
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spoken about People's Park by Governor Ronald Reagan:

"If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement."

During its first three weeks, People's Park was used by both university students and local residents, and local Telegraph Avenue merchants voiced their appreciation for the community's efforts to improve the neighborhood. Objections to the expropriation of university property tended to be mild, even among school administrators.

Governor Ronald Reagan had been publicly critical of university administrators for tolerating student demonstrations at the Berkeley campus, and he had received enormous popular support for his 1966 gubernatorial campaign promise to crack down on what the public perceived as a generally lax attitude at California's public universities. Reagan called the Berkeley campus "a haven for communist sympathizers, protesters, and sex deviants." Reagan considered the creation of the park a direct leftist challenge to the property rights of the university, and he found in it an opportunity to fulfill his campaign promise.

Governor Reagan overrode Chancellor Heyns' May 6 promise that nothing would be done without warning, and on Thursday, May 15, 1969 at 4:30 a.m., he sent 300 California Highway Patrol and Berkeley police officers into People's Park. The officers cleared an 8-block area around the park while a large section of what had been planted was destroyed and an 8-foot (2.4 m)-tall perimeter chain-link wire fence was installed to keep people out and to prevent the planting of more trees, grass, flowers, or shrubs.

Beginning at noon, about 3,000 people appeared in Sproul Plaza at nearby UC Berkeley for a rally, the original purpose of which was to discuss the Arab–Israeli conflict. Several people spoke; then, Michael Lerner ceded the Free Speech platform to ASUC Student Body President Dan Siegel because students were concerned about the fencing-off and destruction of the park. Siegel said later that he never intended to precipitate a riot; however, when he shouted "Let's take the park!," police turned off the sound system. The crowd responded spontaneously, moving down Telegraph Avenue toward People's Park chanting, "We want the park!"

Arriving in the early afternoon, the protesters were met by the remaining 159 Berkeley and university police officers assigned to guard the fenced-off park site. The protesters opened a fire hydrant, the officers fired tear gas canisters, some protesters attempted to tear down the fence, and bottles, rocks, and bricks were thrown. A major confrontation ensued between police and the crowd. Initial attempts by the police to disperse the protesters were not successful, and more officers were called in from surrounding cities. At least one car was set on fire.

Reagan's Chief of Staff, Edwin Meese III, a former district attorney from Alameda County, had established a reputation for firm opposition to those protesting the Vietnam War at the Oakland Induction Center and elsewhere. Meese assumed responsibility for the governmental response to the People's Park protest, and he called in the Alameda County Sheriff's deputies, which brought the total police presence to 791 officers from various jurisdictions. Under Meese's direction, the police were permitted to use whatever methods they chose against the crowds, which had swelled to approximately 6,000 people. Officers in full riot gear (helmets, shields, and gas masks) obscured their badges to avoid being identified and headed into the crowds with nightsticks swinging."

Alameda County Sheriff's deputies used shotguns to fire at people sitting on the roof at the Telegraph Repertory Cinema. James Rector, a student, was fatally wounded by a police shotgun loaded with "00" buckshot. Carpenter Alan Blanchard was permanently blinded by a load of birdshot directly to his face. The University of California Police Department (UCPD) claims Rector threw steel rebar down onto the police; however, according to Time Magazine, Rector was a bystander, not a protester. As the protesters retreated, the Alameda County Sheriff's deputies pursued them several blocks down Telegraph Avenue as far as Willard Junior High School at Derby Street, firing tear gas canisters and "00" buckshot at the crowd's backs as they fled.

At least 128 Berkeley residents were admitted to local hospitals for head trauma, shotgun wounds, and other serious injuries inflicted by police. The actual number of seriously wounded was likely much higher, because many of the injured did not seek treatment at local hospitals to avoid being arrested. Local medical students and interns organized volunteer mobile first-aid teams to assist the many protestors and bystanders injured with buckshot, nightsticks, or tear gas. One local hospital reported two students wounded with large caliber rifles as well, while other local hospital logs show that 19 police officers or Alameda County Sheriff's deputies were treated for minor injuries; none was hospitalized. However, the UCPD claims that 111 police officers were injured, including one California Highway Patrol Officer Albert Bradley, who was knifed in the chest.

Authorities initially claimed that only birdshot had been used as shotgun ammunition. When physicians provided "00" pellets removed from the wounded as evidence that buckshot had been used, Sheriff Frank Madigan of Alameda County justified the use of shotguns loaded with lethal buckshot by stating, "The choice was essentially this: to use shotguns—because we didn't have the available manpower—or retreat and abandon the City of Berkeley to the mob." Sheriff Madigan did admit, however, that some of his deputies (many of whom were Vietnam War veterans) had been overly aggressive in their pursuit of the protesters, acting "as though they were Viet Cong."

Governor Reagan declared a state of emergency in Berkeley and sent in 2,700 National Guard troops. The Berkeley City Council symbolically voted 8–1 against the decision. For two weeks, the streets of Berkeley were patrolled by National Guardsmen, who broke up even small demonstrations with teargas. On Wednesday, May 21, 1969, a midday memorial was held for student James Rector at Sproul Plaza on the university campus, with several thousand people attending.

During the People's Park incident, National Guard troops were stationed in front of Berkeley's empty lots to prevent protesters from planting flowers, shrubs, or trees. Young hippie women taunted and teased the troops, on one occasion handing out marijuana-laced brownies and lemonade spiked with LSD. Some protesters, their faces hidden with scarves, challenged police and National Guard troops. Hundreds were arrested, and Berkeley citizens who ventured out during curfew hours risked police harassment and beatings. Berkeley city police officers were discovered to be parking several blocks away from the Annex park, removing their badges and donning grotesque Halloween-type masks (including pig faces) to attack citizens they found in the park annex." Law enforcement would soon introduce a new form of crowd control with pepper gas, in its first use on American soil after being tested on the fields of Vietnam. The editorial offices of Berkeley Tribe were sprayed with pepper gas and had tear gas canisters fired into the offices, injuring underground press staff.

In a university referendum held soon after, UC Berkeley students voted 12,719 to 2,175 in favor of keeping the park.

On May 30, 1969, 30,000 Berkeley citizens (out of a population of 100,000) secured a city permit and marched without incident past the barricaded People's Park to protest Governor Reagan's occupation of their city, the death of James Rector, the blinding of Alan Blanchard, and the many injuries inflicted by police. Young girls slid flowers down the muzzles of bayoneted National Guard rifles, and a small airplane flew over the city trailing a banner that read, "Let A Thousand Parks Bloom." But over the next few weeks, National Guard troops broke up any assemblies of more than four persons who congregated for any purpose on the streets of Berkeley, day or night. In the early summer, troops deployed in downtown Berkeley surrounded several thousand protestors and bystanders, emptying business, restaurants, and retail outlets of their owners and customers, and arresting them en masse. On May 20, 1969, National Guard helicopters flew over the campus, dispensing airborne teargas that errant winds dispersed over the entire City, sending schoolchildren miles away to hospitals.

In an address before the California Council of Growers on April 7, 1970, almost a year after "Bloody Thursday" and the death of James Rector, Governor Reagan defended his decision to use the California National Guard to quell Berkeley protests: "If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement." Berkeley Tribe editors decided to issue this quote in large type on the cover of its next edition.

he May 1969 confrontation in People's Park grew out of the counterculture of the 1960s, pitting flower children against the Establishment. Among the student protests of the late 1960s, the People's Park confrontation came after the 1968 protests at Columbia University and the Democratic National Convention, but before the Kent State killings and the burning of a branch of Bank of America in Isla Vista. Unlike other student protests of the late 1960s, most of which were at least partly in opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, the initial protests at People's Park were mostly in response to a local disagreement about land use.



During 1970 student murders, initiated
by politicians, occurred at Kent State:

Kent State Truth Tribunal
Kent State Truth Tribunal

Seeking Truth & Justice at Kent State
The Day that Changed America

On May 4, 1970 the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students protesting America´s invasion of Cambodia. Four students were killed and nine were wounded. The incident triggered national outrage in a country already divided over the Vietnam War. In the days that followed more than four million students rose up in dissent across 900 campuses, generating the only nationwide student protest in U.S. history.

The Kent State shootings have never been thoroughly examined and no person or group has been held accountable for wrongdoing. Forty years later, family members of those killed have initiated the Kent State Truth Tribunal to preserve and honor the stories of those whose lives have been touched by this tragedy. Taking inspiration from British Prime Minister David Cameron´s apology for the Bloody Sunday killings on June 15, 2010, the KSTT seeks official acknowledgment of the 1970 Kent State shootings.

http://www.truthtribunal.org/




Kent State University, May 4, 1970 ~ http://vimeo.com/369262



Kent State Anniversary Blues

by Paul Krassner

In my book, Magic Mushrooms and Other Highs: From Toad Slime to Ecstasy, Freddy Berthoff described his mescaline trip at a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young concert in the summer of 1970 when he was 15. “Earlier that spring,” he wrote, “the helmeted, rifle-toting National Guard came up over the rise during a peace-in-Vietnam rally at Kent State University. And opened fire on the crowd. I always suspected it was a contrived event, as if someone deep in the executive branch had said, ‘We’ve got to teach those commie punks a lesson.’” Actually, President Nixon had called antiwar protesters “bums” two days before the shootings. While Freddy was peaking on mescaline, CSNY sang a new song about the massacre:

Tin soldiers and Nixon coming

We’re finally on our own

This summer I hear the drumming

Four dead in O-hi-o…

Plus nine wounded. Sixty-seven shots – dum-dum bullets that exploded upon impact -- had been fired in 13 seconds. This incident on May 4, 1970 resulted in the first general student strike in U.S. history, encompassing over 400 campuses.

Arthur Krause, father of one of the dead students, Allison, got a call from John Ehrlichman, Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, who said, “There will be a complete investigation.” Krause responded, “Are you sure about that?” And the reply: “Mr. Krause, I promise you, there will be no whitewash.”

But NBC News correspondent James Polk discovered a memo marked “Eyes Only” from Ehrlichman to Attorney General John Mitchell ordering that there be no federal grand jury investigation of the killings, because Nixon adamantly opposed such action.

Polk reported that, “In 1973, under a new Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, the Justice Department reversed itself and did send the Kent State case to a federal grand jury. When that was announced, Richardson said to an aide he got a call from the White House. He was told that Richard Nixon was so upset, they had to scrape the president off the walls with a spatula.”

Last year, Allison Krause’s younger sister, Laurel, was relaxing on the front deck of her home in California when she saw the County Sheriff’s Deputy coming toward her, followed by nearly two dozen men. “Then, before my eyes,” she recalls, “the officers morphed into a platoon of Ohio National Guardsmen marching onto my land. They were here because I was cultivating medical marijuana. I realized the persecution I was living through was similar to what many Americans and global citizens experience daily. This harassment even had parallels to Allison’s experience before she was murdered.”

What if you knew her

And found her dead on the ground

How can you run when you know?

Now, 40 years later, Laurel, her mother and other Kent State activists have been organizing the “2010 Kent State Truth Tribunal” (see http://bit.ly/8AD8TQ) scheduled for May 1-4 on the campus where the slaughter of unarmed demonstrators originally occurred. The invitation to participate in sharing their personal narratives has been extended to 1970 protesters, witnesses, National Guardsmen, Ohio and federal government officials, university administrators and educators, local residents, families of the victims. The purpose is to uncover the truth.

Laurel was 0nly 15 when the Kent State shootings took place. “Like any 15-year-old, my coping mechanisms were undeveloped at best. Every evening, I remember spending hours in my bedroom practicing calligraphy to Neil Young’s ‘After the Goldrush,’ artistically copying phrases of his music, smoking marijuana to calm and numb my pain.” When she was arrested for legally growing marijuana, “They cuffed me and read my rights as I sobbed hysterically. This was the first time I flashed back and revisited the utter shock, raw devastation and feeling of total loss since Allison died. I believed they were going to shoot and kill me, just like Allison. How ironic, I thought. The medicine that kept me safe from experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder now led me to relive that horrible experience as the cops marched onto my property.”

She began to see the interconnectedness of those events. The dehumanization of Allison was the logical, ultimate extension of the dehumanization of Laurel. Legally, two felonies were reduced to misdemeanors, and she was sentenced to 25 hours of community service. But a therapist, one of Allison’s friends from Kent State, suggested to Laurel that the best way to deal with the pain of PTSD was to make something good come out of the remembrance, the suffering and the pain. “That’s when I decided to transform the arrest into something good for me,” she says, “good for all. It was my only choice, the only solution to cure this memorable, generational, personal angst. My mantra became, ‘This is the best thing that ever happened to me.’ And it has been.” That’s why she’s fighting so hard for the truth to burst through cement like blades of grass.



Kent State shootings
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Ohio (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Ohio ~ Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young ~ http://vimeo.com/89062841




During 1970 student murders, initiated by
politicians, also occurred at Jackson State:

40 Years Ago: Police Kill Two Students at Jackson State
in Mississippi, Ten Days After Kent State Killings

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/5/14/40_years_ago_police_kill_two
[Video at source]

Four decades ago, on May 4, 1970, four students were killed at Kent State University when National Guardsmen opened fire on hundreds of unarmed students at an on-campus antiwar rally. The killings received national media attention and are still remembered forty years later across the country. But the media has largely forgotten what happened just ten days after the Kent State shootings. On May 14, 1970, local and state police opened fire on a group of students at the predominantly black Jackson State College in Mississippi. In a twenty-eight-second barrage of gunfire, police fired hundreds of rounds into the crowd. Two were killed and a dozen injured. We speak with Gene Young, a former student at Jackson State who witnessed the shooting. [includes rush transcript]

JUAN GONZALEZ: Four decades ago, four students were killed at Kent State University when National Guardsmen opened fire on hundreds of unarmed students on an on-campus antiwar rally. The killings received national media attention and are remembered forty years later across the country. But the media has largely forgotten what happened just ten days after the Kent State shootings. On May 14th, 1970, local police opened fire on a group of students at Jackson State College in Mississippi. In a twenty-eight-second barrage of gunfire, police fired hundreds of rounds into the crowd. Two were killed and a dozen injured. The Jackson State shootings didn’t receive close to the attention from the media that Kent State did.

AMY GOODMAN: Howard Zinn, the late, great historian and author of A People’s History of the United States, spoke about why the Jackson State killings were largely ignored in his very last interview we did with him on Democracy Now! just last May.

HOWARD ZINN: Yeah, well, it’s a very common thing in history to ignore the things that happen to black people. And, of course, the Kent State shooting was a very dramatic and terrible event and deserves to be remembered as one of those shameful things in American history. But the media tend to focus on some things and not on others, and the media did not focus on the other shooting that took place at Jackson State, where two black youngsters were gunned down. And so, yeah, I think our job as historians is to bring out things that we did not get ordinarily in our history lessons.

JUAN GONZALEZ: That was historian Howard Zinn speaking last year.

Well, today on this fortieth anniversary, we remember the Jackson State shootings. This is an excerpt from the documentary Fire in the Heartland that includes a section on Jackson State. It features interviews with Gene Young, who was a student at the time and who witnessed the shootings, and Gloria Green McCray. Her brother, seventeen-year-old James Green, was one of those two students killed.

NARRATOR: Just after midnight on May 15th, seventy officers from the city police and state troopers opened fire on protesters near the women’s dormitory, Alexander Hall.

GENE YOUNG: They saw a male figure on the fourth floor stairwell landing. The next thing you know, you hear rapid gunfire erupting in the direction of the students and all around.

NARRATOR: Twelve students were wounded, and two were killed. Phillip Lafayette Gibbs was a twenty-one-year-old law student, already married and a father of an eleven-month-old son. James Earl Green was a seventeen-year-old high school track star standing on the opposite side of the street when police turned and fired.

GLORIA GREEN McCRAY: They had a nickname for him: "Wing Feet." He would run so fast, and when he’d get to a certain distance, it looked like he took wing and flew.

NARRATOR: Green cut across campus every night on his way home from work. He was only two weeks from his high school graduation.

GLORIA GREEN McCRAY: All he talked about, "I’ll be graduating in a couple of weeks. I’ll be leaving Mississippi, going to California, going to UCLA. I’m going to run in the Olympics," you know? He was just an innocent bystander, but they had orders to shoot anything black that moved.

NARRATOR: As the gunsmoke cleared, Gene Young tried to calm the traumatized students.

GENE YOUNG: And I just grabbed the bullhorn, and out of that tragedy, I just start repeating some of the words of Dr. King to the students there on the lawn. "I have a dream that one day the state of Mississippi, a desert state sweltering in the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom." And on and on I went to recite that particular speech. The students focused on my words rather than the great tragedy which had just occurred around them and which was still occurring around them.

NARRATOR: The second tragedy of Jackson State was that the national media paid very little attention to the murder of those two black students in Mississippi.

UNIDENTIFIED: Those students were black. The students who died at Kent State were white. Very simple.

GLORIA GREEN McCRAY: He had so much to live for. My brother’s life was just as important as Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Emmett Till or any other martyrs that gave up their life, that sacrificed their life for the right of the people.

AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of the documentary Fire in the Heartland. That last voice was Gloria Green McCray talking about her brother James Green, who was one of the two students killed at Jackson State forty years ago today. You also heard Gene Young. He was a student at Jackson State. He witnessed the shootings.

Well, Gene Young flew up from Jackson, Mississippi to join us today on Democracy Now! on this fortieth anniversary of the Jackson State killings. Gene Young is a longtime civil rights leader. He began his activism as a preteen, getting arrested for civil disobedience at a bus station at the age of twelve. Before his thirteenth birthday, Young took his first plane ride to New York to speak to civil rights groups. He attended the 1963 March on Washington. He testified at the House of Representatives alongside civil and voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. He’s continued his activism to this day and was a featured speaker last week at an event commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the Kent State shootings in Ohio.

Gene Young, we welcome you to Democracy Now!

GENE YOUNG: Thank you, Amy. Thank you, Juan. Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s very good to have you with us. Let’s go back forty years. Talk about what was happening at Jackson State. You were a student there? What year?

GENE YOUNG: I was a student there from 1968 to 1972, and as you noted, I had been involved in a lot of civil rights activities. And Jackson State is located right there on Lynch Street, right near the Masonic Temple where Medgar Evers had his offices. And ironically, when I got out of jail the first time I got arrested for civil rights protest, Lena Horne and Dick Gregory were at a mass meeting which Medgar Evers hosted, and I got a chance to stand up in a chair to try to encourage people to join the civil rights protest, and Lena Horne kissed me that night.

A few years later, because of Lynch Street being a major thoroughfare there in Jackson, there was always a lot of racism, white motorists making racial taunts towards the students, and things just came to a head days after the shootings of the students at Kent State University. Mississippi law enforcement officials walked onto the campus and stood in front of the students who were assembled in front of Alexander Hall dormitory, and for twenty-five seconds they fired over 200 rounds of ammunition at the students in front of Alexander Hall dormitory.

And the miracle of that particular May morning in 1970 was that only two students got killed — if you ever see the pictures of all of the bullet holes in the dormitory. Phillip Gibbs, a junior, a prelaw major from Ripley, Mississippi, and James Earl Green, a young high school student who was on his way home from a part-time job at one of the local convenience stores, were murdered that morning.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, what was the original cause of the students gathering that night, because it was right after the Kent State shootings?

GENE YOUNG: Juan, at that time, you know, we had had several nights of protests, not only because of what was going on at Kent State, but every campus in this country was in an uproar about the war in Vietnam. And black — young black males were being sent to Southeast Asia in disproportionate numbers, and we were concerned about that, in addition to the historic racism there in Jackson, Mississippi. So there were several nights of protests. And I was thinking that there would just be some taunts and jeers at the law enforcement officials present and thinking nothing would happen, but shortly after midnight, on that third night, early in the morning, May 15, actually, those students were fired upon at Jackson State.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And for viewers who are not — or listeners who are not familiar with the situation in Jackson, because, as you mentioned, it was always a hotbed of activity in terms of the battle for civil rights, what was the climate —- for instance, the media. You had WLBT TV there. You had the Jackson Daily News, the Clarion Ledger, all of them notorious defenders of segregation at the time. What was the climate like?

GENE YOUNG: Yeah, and, of course, that was business as usual, you know? And I shared with you a picture of me meeting with Mrs. Fannie Chaney, whose son was one of the three civil rights workers who was killed in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Pior to the 1970 shootings, you had the killing of a civil rights worker named Benjamin Brown right there on Lynch Street not far from it.

But you mentioned some of the TV stations and the print media. Ironically now, the Clarion Ledger is now run by Gannett publishing company, but in those days, you know, when blacks were mentioned in those papers, they were always using a derogatory term. And it was just business as usual, just more blacks being victimized by whites in Mississippi. And I think that’s one of the reasons to why Jackson State hasn’t received the notoriety that Kent State has received, because nobody’s shocked when you hear about black people being victimized by whites in Mississippi.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And how did you get arrested at the age of twelve?

GENE YOUNG: That was a walkout in protest of civil rights Freedom Riders who had been arrested at a local bus station, and my brothers told me to join the walkout at 12:00 at Lanier High School that day. There’s a scene in the documentary Eyes on the Prize of us walking out of Lanier High School. And they took us all to jail.

And when I got out of jail, because I was one of the youngest ones, they said, "Why don’t you get up there and tell people what happened to you?" And somewhere there’s a picture of me standing up in a chair to get to the microphone at the Masonic Temple that evening. But ironically, Dick Gregory and Ms. Lena Horne were both present there in Jackson that evening, and I told people -— I made some imitation of Ross Barnett, and the people laughed about that. The picture’s in the NAACP’s 100th anniversary pictorial book. But they said, "We want you to come to New York to talk about it." And I got on an airplane. I was thinking about that, flying in last night. The first time I flew to New York was June 12th, 1963. When we got to New York, they said Medgar Evers had been assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, we were just observing the death of Lena Horne, who has just died at the age of ninety-two, and we were speaking with James Gavin, her biographer. And he was talking about that rally that she went to that you were at and you spoke at. There is a photograph of you, of Lena —-

GENE YOUNG: There’s a photograph of her and me. I don’t know if I -— if I could see the picture. Somebody took a picture of us. I’ve never seen it, though.

AMY GOODMAN: And Lena Horne there with Medgar Evers. You were also there. She comes up to New York. I think it was The Today Show she was doing an interview with. And then she gets the word — it’s just two days later — that Medgar Evers has been assassinated. But such a young man — I mean, I’m holding a photograph of you at the age of thirteen. This is a picture of you getting your haircut. Why was this so memorable?

GENE YOUNG: Because it happened right on the heels of Lyndon Johnson signing the 1964 civil rights bill. And initially I had gone downstairs at the hotel at the CORE convention — the Congress of Racial Equality was having its meeting there — and the guy said they didn’t cut black people’s hair at that hotel. I went back and told some friends in the civil rights movement —-

AMY GOODMAN: Kansas City.

GENE YOUNG: Yeah, that this guy wasn’t going to cut my hair. And they came down and started protesting. And in the middle of the protest, somebody ran in July 2nd and said, "Hey, Johnson just signed the 1964 Civil Eights Act," and so technically, I became the first person to test the 1964 civil rights bill.

AMY GOODMAN: He cut your hair?

GENE YOUNG: Oh, he cut my hair.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to a break, and then we’re going to come back. We’re speaking with a civil rights leader who was a student at Jackson State in 1970 on this day forty years ago, when the local police opened fire. They killed two students. One was a high school student. He was working at a local grocery store. He was just cutting through campus to get home. And one was a student on campus. They opened fire in front of a girl’s dorm. Many of them were injured inside. Gene Young is our guest. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest, a student at Jackson State in 1970, he’s Gene Young. He’s with us today in our New York studio, just flew up from Jackson last night, hovering around New York’s airports, as New York was preparing for President Obama to be in New York for the fundraiser. And I’m holding a picture of Medgar Evers with your mom, Gene Young.

GENE YOUNG: Yeah, that’s a picture of my mother and Medgar. They were getting ready to go an NAACP gathering in Washington, DC. And that was taken at the Hawkins Field airport in 1955. So my mother had the pleasure of knowing Medgar Evers, and I guess she felt comfortable about us participating in the civil rights protests that were going on in Jackson at that time.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And the impact on you and other young people in Jackson following the death of Medgar Evers? People don’t -— I had mentioned to you before WLBT TV, because Jackson became the focus of perhaps the most important media public accountability battle in American history, because that was the battle to get WLBT TV in Jackson to hire African Americans, to cover African American issues, and in a city that was 40 percent African American. And in fact, Medgar Evers had filed a complaint against WLBT TV, because they never covered anything going on in the civil rights movement, nationwide or in their own city. And then it was only a couple of weeks after WLBT was actually forced to allow him to get on the air that he was assassinated.

GENE YOUNG: Beautiful, Juan. You know that history so well. And a lot of people in Jackson, Mississippi are not aware of it. And eventually, one of Medgar Evers’s colleagues, the longtime president of the NAACP, Dr. Aaron Henry, and Dr. Benjamin Hooks got control of the license to WLBT. But Medgar did go on TV a few nights before his assassination to protest about things that were going on in Jackson, Mississippi. And sadly, within days of his appearance on the local television station, he was assassinated in Jackson, Mississippi. But to his credit, WLBT has a black station manager, a lot of on-air black personalities. Even the ABC and CBS affiliates also in Mississippi have made major strides since those particular times in Mississippi.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s turn to Medgar Evers in his own words. This is a clip of the civil rights leader speaking about organizing the NAACP boycott of downtown stores in Jackson, Mississippi, for their support of the separatist group, the White Citizens’ Council.

MEDGAR EVERS: Don’t shop for anything on Capitol Street. Let’s let the merchants down on Capitol Street feel the economic pinch. Let me say this to you. I had one merchant to call me, and he said, "I want you to know that I’ve talked to my national office today, and they want me to tell you that we don’t need nigger business." These are stores that help to support the White Citizens’ Council, the council that is dedicated to keeping you and I second-class citizens. Now, finally, ladies and gentlemen, we’ll be demonstrating here until freedom comes to Negroes here in Jackson, Mississippi.

AMY GOODMAN: The day before Medgar Evers was assassinated, he was on the coast planning a protest to allow African Americans access to Mississippi’s public beaches. This is Medgar Evers speaking shortly before his death.

MEDGAR EVERS: This demonstration will continue. We will have a mass meeting tonight, and after the mass meeting, we will be demonstrating even further on tomorrow. So then this will only give us an impetus to move ahead rather than to slow down. We intend to completely eradicate Jim Crow here in Jackson, Mississippi.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Medgar Evers. Within a week, he would be dead, assassinated walking home at night. I think he was carrying T-shirts into his house, walking just from his car, that said something like "Jim Crow must go," as he was going into his house with his wife and his children.

GENE YOUNG: Medgar was a dynamic, charismatic leader who I had the pleasure of knowing. And ironically, he and Dr. Gilbert Mason, one of the NAACP vice presidents, were trying to desegregate those beaches in the southern part of Mississippi, which are being threatened by black oil right now in Mississippi. But again, you know, we have come a long ways in Mississippi. I was flying up, and I was telling the gentleman sitting next to me that I live in Mississippi and how much I enjoy living in Mississippi. So we have crazy people everywhere, but I enjoy warm weather, and it’s been a delight to go back to Mississippi, and it’s been a delight to be back on the campus where I was born and to see the people on —-

AMY GOODMAN: You were born -—

GENE YOUNG: On the campus.

AMY GOODMAN: — right at Jackson State College?

GENE YOUNG: Because at that time, if you were black, you were either born by a midwife or on the Jackson State College campus, which health center served as a community hospital for blacks in that community, because the white hospitals in the city, blacks could not go to. And I was actually born on the Jackson State campus on September of 1950.

AMY GOODMAN: What was the reaction of the Jackson State College president as the students were beginning to organize? I was just reading this excellent book. I think it’s one of the only ones that are devoted to the Jackson State killings, Lynch Street: The May 1970 Slayings of Jackson State College, by Tim Spofford. It’s out of print, hard to get. But he was describing a few days after Kent State, a student from Kent State came to Jackson State to describe what happened on his campus, as about 120 Jackson State students sat there listening. Then they were protesting at Jackson State. And talk about the authorities and how they responded in those —- in that period right before the killings.

GENE YOUNG: Amy, if you remember, in 1968, when Dr. King got killed, black students on not only the black campuses, but on the white campuses also, demanded a greater voice in campus governance. And we had just gotten a new president by the name of Dr. John Arthur Peoples. That’s a book that Dr. Peoples wrote about the shootings in 1970. And after years of having a president who didn’t allow students to -—

AMY GOODMAN: He wrote To Survive and Thrive: The Quest for a True University.

GENE YOUNG: And after years of having a president who didn’t allow students to speak out, Peoples embraced us and allowed us to speak out. And he writes in his book, on the night of the shootings, that he didn’t know what to do with them. And this student, who his fellow students called Jughead, started reciting speeches from the speech that he had heard in Washington, DC in 1963.

AMY GOODMAN: That was you.

GENE YOUNG: "Let freedom ring from the prodigious treetops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado. From every mountainside, let freedom ring." And it seemed to have a calming effect on some of my fellow students. And Dr. Peoples, to his credit, says that had I not been president that evening, that early morning of May 15, he don’t know what would have happened with those students, because a lot of them were angry. Some of them wanted to march that night downtown in Jackson, Mississippi. But every time I see Dr. Peoples, he thanks me for keeping those students under control during that very traumatic time in Jackson State’s history.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And what role did you play after the shootings?

GENE YOUNG: Some of us stayed on campus to bring attention to what had happened on there. The schools were closed down. High school students in Jackson, Mississippi walked out in protest. The campus was closed down. Students were allowed to go home. But Jackson area high school students walked out in protest and kept the schools closed until after the funerals of Phillip Gibbs and James Green. And I got a chance to speak on several programs telling people what had happened at Jackson State. And again, much to the credit of Kent State’s May 4th Task Force, over the years they’ve always included Jackson State in its memorial programs. That’s long been there. It’s been there for over thirty years, says, "Long live the spirit of Kent and Jackson State." But again, the major media tends to ignore Jackson State and keeps the focus on four white students in Ohio.

AMY GOODMAN: Gene Young, talk about the young women students, because that was the backdrop of the shootings, and a number of the young women were in their dorm —-

GENE YOUNG: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —- when they were hit by — what was it? The —-

GENE YOUNG: Buckshot -—

AMY GOODMAN: Buckshot.

GENE YOUNG: — and ricochets from — and the shattering of glasses. And Alexander Hall was the women’s dormitory on campus. And it was — on warm spring evenings, male students gathered in front of the — there was no coed visitation, but we could always go stand in front of the dorms, and it was a natural meeting place. And a lot of us were gathered there for several nights back in May of 1970.

And when they fired into that dormitory, windows were broken, and some of the people were injured by the glasses flying and stuff. And a lot of students did not even report their injuries. They waited 'til they went home to receive medical care, because they were afraid to use the facilities of Jackson, Mississippi, fearing that there might be some repercussions there.

AMY GOODMAN: Was it police or National Guardsmen?

GENE YOUNG: It was a combination of local law enforcement officials, policemen and National Guard.

AMY GOODMAN: They used submachine guns?

GENE YOUNG: To this very day, Amy, there are still markings in the building at Jackson State.

JUAN GONZALEZ: You mentioned Dr. Peoples, but Jackson State previously had been known as a relatively quiet school compared to the other schools like Tougaloo College.

GENE YOUNG: Tougaloo was a private historical black college, and a lot of civil rights activities were focused there, because Tougaloo was a private school that could not be subjugated to the whims of the state government. And Jackson State did little or nothing in those days, but John Peoples —-

JUAN GONZALEZ: And if a student got too active in Jackson State, they were expelled or removed.

GENE YOUNG: Oh, they were on -— there were cases. Dr. Joyce Ladner, a former member of SNCC and a former president of Howard University, she and her sister Dorie Ladner were students at Jackson State, and when they got involved in the civil rights movement, they got kicked out of Jackson State and ended up going to Tougaloo College.

JUAN GONZALEZ: So the impact then of Dr. Peoples coming there, how did that allow students to develop?

GENE YOUNG: That was a blessing in disguise, because Dr. Peoples, the first alumni president of Jackson State University, was refreshing after years of the previous president, Dr. Jacob Reddix, because he wanted students — it was the tone of the time — to be a part of their campus governance, because up until that time, you know, students didn't have a great voice in what was going on on campus, and Dr. Peoples allowed students to speak out and be a part. In fact, I remember, in the days after the shootings, he hosted a meeting with Mayor Russell Davis, and he had some of us present at that meeting when Russell Davis came to assume responsibility for what had happened at Jackson State a few days earlier.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And what did Davis say?

GENE YOUNG: That he was sorry for the — he was sorry for what had happened, but they were just trying to enforce the law. And there was some belief that these students had incited this. But all the records show that the police fired without warning on some unarmed students at Jackson State.

AMY GOODMAN: You went on to study at Columbia University.

GENE YOUNG: Connecticut.

AMY GOODMAN: In Connecticut?

GENE YOUNG: Yeah, I got arrested in Connecticut, too.

AMY GOODMAN: You got arrested in Connecticut for — explain why you led a sit-in.

GENE YOUNG: At the time, the University of Connecticut was teaching theories of genetic inferiority, and there were some of us who were very upset about this, these types of courses being taught at the University of Connecticut. And —-

AMY GOODMAN: That blacks were inferior genetically to white?

GENE YOUNG: Yeah, yeah. And I’m saying, "Wait a minute, why am I up here working on my Ph.D. if I’m genetically inferior?" And ironically and actually, Amy, one of the people who was arrested along with me and my 200 other students at the University of Connecticut was David Paul Robeson, the grandson of Paul Robeson. David died several years ago, but David Robeson and several hundred other students at the University of Connecticut took over the main library on the main campus at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, and we were arrested for our little creative protest.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And this was in what year?

GENE YOUNG: 1974, April of 1974. People think about Connecticut often when they have winning football seasons, but I remember when the spotlight was on some students at the Wilbur Cross Library on the main campus at the University of Connecticut.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Gene Young, I want to thank you very much for flying up here to New York, for sharing with us some living history, on this sad occasion, though, on this fortieth anniversary of the killing of two students at -—

GENE YOUNG: We thank you for remembering.

AMY GOODMAN: — Jackson State. Well, that does it for this broadcast. Gene Young, longtime civil rights activist.



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