[sixties-l] Stop the Draft Week

From: William Mandel (wmmmandel@earthlink.net)
Date: Wed Jun 28 2000 - 03:40:01 CUT

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        Stop the Draft Week was of permanent significance in American
    history and, specifically, legal history, because, among other
    things, it marked the high point in a jury's understanding of
    what the First Amendment protects. I describe this in Saying No
    To Power because my son Bob was one of the defendants:
       "The one thing I didn't find time to do that year was to
    attend the eleven-week trial of my son Bob and the other Oakland
    Seven defendants who had organized the week-long roving
    demonstrations of some ten thousand people that sought to shut
    down the U.S.Army Induction Center. Those demonstrations were the
    climax of five years of protests against the Vietnam War, which,
    in our area, began with the mass attempt to stop troop trains.
    Our Bob had quit an accelerated-Ph.D.-track program in History
    that U.C. had put him on, to become a full-time anti-war
    activist. Both my father, then seventy-five, and my wife, took
    part in the demonstrations outside the induction center. I was
    out of town on a lecture tour organized through the contacts
    established by my public activism.
        "The defendants, their friends, associates, and families,
    including myself, were convinced that the Seven would be
    convicted. Only two people thought differently: defense attorney
    Charles Garry and my father. Garry, now deceased, was a marvel at
    the questioning of prospective jurors, which is always helped by
    advance scouting of the persons summoned to be on the panel from
    which the jury is selected. My father retained a faith in the
    fairness of Americans that I thought was misplaced given the
        "When the jury was selected, I thought the defendants were
    finished. There was a retired U.S.Marines colonel, who at one
    time had been second-in-command of the Corps. In his time the
    Marines were very sparing with the rank of general. The jury
    foreperson was a young man with top security clearance at
    Lawrence Livermore Laboraotry, where nuclear bombs are designed
    and laboratory-tested. But Garry called a stunning array of
    character witnesses to present the defendants' motivations. Garry
    actually convinced that jury that assembling massive crowds to
    block access to the induction center was a legitimate exercise of
    freedom of speech under the First Amendment! Hatred for that war
    certainly ran deep.
        "Tanya [my wife] attended every day, for the nearly three
    months of the trial. She phoned home one day so say that a
    verdict was expected. I dropped my translation [work] and drove
    down. The scene when I entered the courtroom was conceivable only
    in the Berkeley area and only during the '60s. As the jury was
    out, court was not in session. Bob's then wife was playing with
    another defendant's young child on the judge's bench. Lawyer
    Garry, bald, in suit and tie, was standing on his head in a
    corner doing yoga. The defendants, with years of their lives in
    the balance, were outside, playing touch football, barefoot, in
    the park across from the courthouse.
        "When the jury announced 'not guilty,' and the judge declared
    court dismissed, I rose, unplanned, to thank them and the judge,
    saying that perhaps it would restore the defendants' faith in the
    workability of American justice. It did not: they all became
    radical opponents of capitalism. Downstairs we waited quite a
    while for the jurors to emerge to thank them personally.
    Meanwhile the defendants sent someone shopping. Judge Phillips, a
    small man, eventually came out of the elevator carrying a huge
    jig-saw puzzle, and said, 'Look what the kids gave me!' He had
    been very much against them in his early rulings, but Garry's
    brilliant line of defense, and the clergy and professors called
    as character witnesses changed his mind." (pp. 415-417)
                                            William Mandel

    Ted Morgan wrote:
    > Sigh... I'd like to respond to Jeff Apfel's post, which I think is very
    > useful. Jeff puts his finger on a phenomenon that occurred with great
    > frequency in the late 60s-early 70s: namely, the militant wing of the
    > Movement (New Left/ antiwar) acted out their rage and a willfulness to
    > either "force an end to the war" --or more likely, and less justifiably I
    > think, "tear down the system." In the process, having exactly the kind of
    > impact on the larger audience that that protest had on Jeff. I'm reminded
    > of some of the responses to Stop the Draft Week

    You may find of interest website www.BillMandel.net

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