[News] Levitating the Pentagon

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Oct 27 10:48:59 EDT 2017


https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/27/levitating-the-pentagon/


  Levitating the Pentagon

by Nancy Kurshan <https://www.counterpunch.org/author/crathewech3vefr/> 
- October 27, 2017
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The summer of 1967 the Israeli military seized the West Bank and Gaza 
from the Palestinians in what came to be known as the Six Day War.  My 
friend Doug. whom I had left in Israel in 1962, returned home 
disillusioned. Whatever lingering hope I had for Israeli socialism was 
forever shattered.  How could there be socialism at the expense of the 
Palestinians?  Socialism was about sharing the wealth with all.  It 
couldn’t be built on the backs of another people.

That was once more a summer of serious urban rebellions in over a dozen 
major U.S.  cities, among them Detroit, Newark, Atlanta, Cleveland and 
New York.  On August 9th President Johnson approved sixteen additional 
Rolling Thunder targets and an expansion of armed reconnaissance in 
Vietnam.  U.S.  imperialism and its allies were moving on all fronts but 
there was resistance everywhere from Black urban centers to Palestine 
and, of course, to Vietnam.

The Berkeley anti-war leader Jerry Rubin, my boyfriend at the time, was 
already in New York assuming his new job as Project Coordinator for the 
October national demonstration against the war.  The National 
Mobilization Committee Against the War (affectionately known as “The 
Mobe”) had agreed to hire a few of Jerry’s posse from the Bay Area.  
While activists Stew Albert, Karen Wald and I got ready to leave 
Berkeley, Jerry was already embroiled in internal debates about the 
nature of the October plans.  The Mobe was made up of much more moderate 
elements in contrast with us West Coast radicals.  Some of the main 
players were Women Strike for Peace, the New York Parade Committee, 
Chicago Peace Council, Student Mobilization, and the Ohio Peace Action 
Committee.

Out west in California we all loved the idea of a huge national 
mobilization that included civil disobedience and we felt it was 
important for the Pentagon to be the focus.  Our argument went something 
like this. Demonstrations were always taking place at the Capitol. It 
would be humdrum and we would never actually get in there.  We felt that 
the Pentagon was the best symbol of U.S.  militarism, the real face of 
U.S.  policy, and that demonstrating there would channel the anger that 
we all felt into a real political weapon.  It wasn’t only a clash of 
ideas.  People were dying because of the war machine.  We didn’t want to 
target the civil government.  We wanted to target the true center, the 
war machine.  We knew that our presence at the Pentagon would result in 
a confrontation but we welcomed that confrontation in order to visibly 
demonstrate the true nature of the U.S., to illustrate that it dominated 
not through its moral power, not through its Peace Corps, but by force 
and violence.  We wanted the War Machine to be Shut Down!  And we wanted 
to be the agents of history.  We wanted to actually shut it down.  Shut 
It Down!  That was the slogan we proposed.

Two processes had developed immediately upon Jerry’s arrival in New 
York.  One was the interaction between Jerry and the Mobe.  He had to 
convince the Mobe that the targeting of the Pentagon was a good idea.  
Among other things, we Californians were in the dark about logistics.  
We didn’t know that the Pentagon wasn’t even in DC but was actually 
across the bridge in Virginia. Legitimate practical problems were raised 
and we were unsure how to respond.  There was only one way to solve our 
lack of knowledge and that was to scope out the Pentagon itself.  Bob 
Greenblatt, the coordinator of the Mobe and a Cornell Professor, Fred 
Halsted of the Socialist Workers Party and Jerry went off together to 
take a look.  A discussion followed about the pros and cons.  The 
Pentagon won out and our plan was to shut it down.

On August 28, the Mobe held a press conference at the Overseas Press 
Club in New York to announce its intention to shut down the Pentagon in 
less than two months time.  Participants ranged from Monsignor Rice of 
Pittsburgh to H.  Rap Brown of SNCC.  Father Hayes of the Episcopal 
Peace Fellowship announced:

    …we will shut down the Pentagon.  We will fill the hallways and
    block the entrances.  Thousands of people will disrupt the center of
    the American war machine. In the name of humanity we will call the
    warmakers to task.

Abbie quipped that “We’re going to raise the Pentagon three hundred feet 
in the air,” while Rap Brown noted that “I would be unwise to say I’m 
going there with a gun because you all took my gun last time.  I may 
bring a bomb, sucker.”  Dellinger stated there would be no government 
building left unattacked although it would all be done nonviolently.  
Jerry warned that “We’re now in the business of wholesale disruption and 
widespread resistance and dislocation of the American society.”

The Pentagon demonstration was off to a roaring start.

The other parallel process was Jerry’s developing relationship with 
Abbie Hoffman and various counterculture figures in the New York area. 
Haight-Ashbury was known as the center of the hippie explosion, but the 
East Village in New York was also an extremely vibrant nexus where 
artists, musicians, poets, journalists and activists were forging a 
counter-cultural community.  Abbie was right in the middle of that mix.  
With a long, bushy mane of curly dark hair, more energy than a spark 
plug, and a distinctively Boston accent, Abbie was an unforgettable 
character.  It wasn’t just his physical appearance that was remarkable 
but he was also as funny and clever as any standup comedian.  A divorced 
father of two, he had just married Anita Kushner in a public hippie 
wedding in Central Park that was splashed across the media.  At first, 
Anita was not an activist, but she was alienated from middle class 
society and madly in love with Abbie.

Jerry had been known in California as the PT Barnum of the political 
left.  What began as a derogatory characterization coming from the 
“straight left” would now become a proud emblem for Jerry.  Through 
Abbie, Jerry was introduced to a whole community of people who would 
resonate to his theatricality and lead him to embrace thoroughly the PT 
Barnum designation.

One evening Jerry telephoned me back in California to share his 
excitement.  Abbie Hoffman, Jim Fourat and about a dozen others had gone 
to the third-floor gallery at the Stock Exchange and rained down a 
thousand single dollar bills onto the floor below.  Jerry reported that 
the stockbrokers stopped trading, got down on their hands and knees, and 
fought over the money while one young woman shouted, “This is a paradise 
on earth. There’s enough for all.”  Then Jerry and Abbie set a handful 
of money on fire, to the outrage of all around, and for all the media to 
photograph.  They hadn’t forgotten to notify the press and images of the 
event spread like wildfire.

 From that moment on, life changed.  Back in Berkeley, we had been 
trying to figure out ways to meld radical politics with the hippie 
counterculture.  But now here were these people actually doing it.  
What’s more Jerry and Abbie seemed to be soul mates.  Both wanted to 
unite radical politics with the counter culture.  Both understood the 
power of the media and wanted to figure out creative ways to reach people.

Abbie was surely a hippie, but he had also been deeply influenced by the 
civil rights movement.  Most recently he had founded Liberty House, an 
outlet for goods produced in the south by various poor people’s 
cooperatives.

By the time I arrived in New York, talks were proceeding with a whole 
range of people in the counter-cultural scene about participating in the 
Pentagon action and there was great enthusiasm.  Instead of behaving 
like the usual “Project Director” he was hired to be, Jerry was spending 
his time with his new friends, planning a Levitation of the Pentagon.  
It had been discovered that the five-sided polygon known as the 
“pentagon” was a baroque  symbol of evil and oppression.  So what better 
than an exorcism?  A group of “Holy Men” would encircle the Pentagon and 
conduct a ritual of drum beating, chanting, incantations and incense 
that would raise the Pentagon a hundred feet in the air and exorcise the 
evil spirits.  When we applied for a permit to exorcise the Pentagon, it 
was reported in the mainstream media that the government said okay, but 
no more than three feet off the ground.

Jerry, Stew Albert, Karen Wald and I – the crazies from California– 
published the first issue of /The Mobilizer,/ a newsletter we would mail 
to peace groups across the country.  The editorial stated:

We live in a society which trains its sons to be killers and which 
channels its immense wealth into the business of suppressing courageous 
men from Vietnam to Detroit who struggle for the simple human right to 
control their own lives and destinies.  We Americans have no right to 
call ourselves human beings unless, personally and collectively, we 
stand up and say NO to the death and destruction perpetrated in our name.

We also included a piece by Keith Lampe.  Lampe was a committed pacifist 
and anti-war activist who possessed a lively and creative imagination.  
Keith’s article “On Making A Perfect Mess” suggested that, “A thousand 
children stage Loot-ins at department stores to strike at the property 
fetish that underlies genocidal war.” When /The Mobilizer/ came out 
there was a wave of indignation from the Mobe regulars and all hell 
broke loose.  They confiscated the 5,000 copies of /The Mobilizer/ and 
put out a new, respectable version featuring, “Sid Peck Answers the 
Questions of Housewives About the October 21 Demonstration.”  (Sid Peck 
was the leader of the Ohio Peace Action Council.)

Dave Dellinger, who had invited us to come east, was out of the country 
when the conflict erupted.  Dave was a very respected long-time peace 
activist and editor of /Liberation/ magazine.  He was the people’s 
ambassador for peace with a gentle, friendly demeanor, very much the 
consensus maker. He was the perfect coordinator but also as hard as 
nails in his own way. Dave very much wanted to see the anti-war  
movement advance “from protest to resistance.”  He had no problem 
personally with going to jail.  In fact, he had been imprisoned for 
close to two years for being a conscientious objector in World War II.  
We counted on Dave to absorb and deflect the anger of the Mobe regulars, 
but unfortunately he was not around for this skirmish.  When he returned 
even Dave could not bridge that gulf.

We were upset.  We knew that if we had a confrontational demonstration 
at the Pentagon, it would be young people who would be the troops.  Yet 
here were these over-40 type people who were censoring us and holding us 
back.  It was more than a controversy over obscene language, although it 
was that too; it was a controversy about the nature of the action 
itself.  They didn’t like our writings.  They didn’t like our art. They 
didn’t like our looks.  They didn’t like our levitation.  They didn’t 
like our militancy.  They didn’t like our resistance to U.S.  society.  
They increasingly stressed the safe, legal and I felt humdrum side of 
the demonstration and things were looking bad.

As for me personally, that fall I was having my own hard time with The 
Mobe.  I was 23-years-old and supposed to be the staff person in charge 
of  “The Midwest.”  I didn’t have a clue about how to be “in charge of 
the Midwest.”  I tried to carry out by rote some tasks that I was given 
but it was too far outside my realm of experience and familiarity.  I 
was used to talking to people, door to door, one on one.  I was used to 
being part of small groups working together on a collective vision on 
activities in a familiar and close-at-hand area.  I was used to working 
in situations where people helped each other.  I was not experienced at 
being part of an administrative staff.

In addition, I was moving away from the “Straight Left”.  I feel a need 
to explain that further since many books on the period, often written by 
academics who are cut out of the same mold as the “Straight Left”, 
underestimate what people like us were trying to do and what we were 
able to accomplish.  I am often asked: Were you really a yippie?  What 
would be the draw of sex, dope and rock ‘n roll for a person like you?   
How could you make the mistake of elevating the hippie phenomenon beyond 
that?  But I looked at it this way.  For the first time, the opportunity 
seemed to exist to really connect with masses of people in our society.  
There were thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of people who were 
alienated from America.  And it wasn’t an opportunist connection, we 
really were a part of them and they of us.

We had shared values, values that appeared to be very different from the 
dominant society, from the older generation.  A large number of young 
people had dropped out of society, rejecting the roles that had been 
assigned to them, just as we were.  In some ways they were more 
communistic than we were.  They lived communally, sharing food and 
material goods. They spoke of peace and love, not war.  They believed in 
living for the moment and exploring with their senses and valued joy, 
laughter and the human imagination.  They unapologetically preferred 
smoking marijuana above guzzling alcohol.  They hated the police and the 
authorities as much as we did and were not afraid to commit illegal 
acts.  We had a lot in common.

Hippies were developing counter-cultural institutions. In New York there 
was a Free Clinic and a Free Store. There were alternative newspapers 
like the /East Village Other/ (EVO) and /The Rat./  Major rock bands 
identified with this counter culture. Country Joe and the Fish’s 
“/Vietnam Rag/” was played everywhere and The Jefferson Airplane’s 
“/Gotta Revolution/” became an anthem.  All these people identified with 
the counterculture.  It was a much broader cross-section of America than 
those involved in “straight” politics. It was a force bigger than the 
Socialist Club, bigger than the Socialist Workers Party or the Communist 
Party.  And it was way more fun. Hippies seemed to be in it with the 
whole of their hearts, minds and bodies.  They were not going to school 
or work in the daytime and then having an occasional meeting or 
demonstration.  They were talking about changing their entire lives.  
For me this resonated with what Paul Potter and SDS (Students for a 
Democratic Society) had been saying about turning our lives over to 
building a movement.  It made sense in terms of what Stokely Carmichael 
of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) had encouraged us to 
do, to go into the white community and influence consciousness and 
behavior.  We thought that as part of the political element of this 
counter-culture, we could influence it towards a politically 
revolutionary direction.  If there could be a melding of the New Left 
and the hippies, it would be social and political dynamite.  We were not 
totally wrong.

I had dropped out of graduate school and now I dropped out of the Mobe.  
I spent time with Abbie, getting to know the “Free” community on the 
lower east side and talking up the Pentagon action wherever we went.  
Abbie knew everybody!  Many of his friends were cultural icons, 
opinion-setters who influenced thousands of other people, particularly 
youth: poet Alan Ginsburg, satirist Paul Krassner, radio MC Bob Fass of 
WBAI and folksinger Phil Ochs.

Jerry and I became good friends with Anita and Abbie in a couples sort 
of a way.  By that I mean that Anita and I never spent much time 
together alone, just the two of us.  However, the four of us spent a 
good deal of time together, often with others such as Paul Krassner, 
Phil Ochs and many others.  Frequently we would just hang out in the 
small living room in their ground floor apartment on St.  Marks Place.  
The room had very little furniture, mostly pillows along the walls and 
various people would come and go, hang out, smoke some weed and talk, 
talk, talk.

I don’t think we ever talked about the past—our families, relationships, 
past academic or career paths. We were single-mindedly focused on the 
present.  I was aware that all four of  us– Jerry, Abbie, Anita and I 
were raised in Jewish families.  If I didn’t know it then, I later found 
out that all three of us—Abbie, Anita and I were dropouts of psychology 
graduation school.  But these were not things we ever dwelled upon as we 
were so busy living in the present and trying to prepare for the near 
future.

Being in the eye of the generation gap maelstrom had some personal 
implications for me.  Returning to New York had accentuated the 
situation.  It meant closer proximity of Jerry and my parents.  My 
mother and father had always been extremely supportive of me, no matter 
what I did. Anyone that I brought home, they would try to love.  This 
had always been the case and there was no reason to expect it to be 
different.  But I hadn’t considered Jerry and the baggage that he 
brought along.

I believed in the Generation Gap (“Don’t trust anyone over 30!”)  but I 
didn’t intend to apply the maxim to my own parents.  Jerry on the other 
hand, once described living in his home as an education in psychological 
warfare. He was also orphaned at a relatively young age, had never 
really dealt with his childhood issues and could not accept my closeness 
with my parents.  Perhaps the relationship was threatening to him in 
some way or another.  It’s hard to second-guess what was going through 
his mind and I don’t recall us having adult, serious discussions about 
this.  But I do remember that I brought him home to my parents’ house on 
Long Island and he insisted on smoking marijuana in their house. They 
let it be known very clearly that they had difficulty tolerating that.  
He and I were unwilling to gracefully compromise with them.  We 
disregarded their feelings and responded with a disrespectful act– 
smoking in the bathroom.  My parents were disappointed but they created 
no scene and life went on.  In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine that I 
would treat my parents so disrespectfully.  I believe this was an 
instance of Jerry’s bad influence me.  I don’t blame him for almost 
anything else.  Everything else we did was consensual; I was in there 
heart and soul, and take responsibility for all decisions.  But I 
allowed him to influence my relationship with my parents and to treat 
them shabbily and that I do regret.

While I went off to hang out with Abbie, Anita and others, Jerry kept 
working for the Mobe although their mutual dissatisfaction was 
increasing.  The Mobe had been meeting with Harry Van Cleve, a 
government lawyer from the General Services Administration, selected to 
do their negotiating.  He said that if The Mobe planned to “close down 
the Pentagon,” the government would not issue permits for any rally or 
march, not even a legal rally or march.  In fact, our buses would not 
even be allowed to unload people in Washington at all.  Well, that was 
the worst thing he could have done for his team! Suddenly, people who 
had been luke-warm or opposed to the demonstration were calling in their 
endorsements.  We heard from Martin Luther King, Benjamin Spock and SDS 
among others.

As this momentum developed the government was thrown into a quandary.  
Van Cleve then telephoned, requesting another meeting, and in the next 
two weeks there were six meetings.  They had a new strategy to defuse 
the impact in a myriad of different ways: can’t use the preferred 
bridge, no sound at the Pentagon, can’t arrive at the Pentagon until 
4:30 (buses were returning to NY at 5:00).  Jerry was concerned that our 
whole vision was being compromised and wanted to break off the 
negotiations.  He also felt that it was somewhat ironic to be planning 
civil disobedience, an illegal activity, while negotiating with those 
who would do the arresting.  On a more profound level, he understood 
that the government really had to negotiate with the protest.  If we 
stood firm, he felt the government would have to back down and grant us 
some of our vision. Ultimately, Dellinger signed what my friends and I 
believed was a less-than-perfect agreement.  The unfolding of the day 
seemed to render the agreement fairly irrelevant but we had no way of 
knowing that in advance.

On Saturday October 20, 1967 more than 100,000 (some say 200,000) people 
streamed into Washington for the legal rally at the Lincoln Memorial.  
The usual speeches went on for hours.  I don’t remember any of them.  My 
friends and I were eager to get on with the action. Eventually a mass of 
people, perhaps 50,000 began the two-hour march across the Arlington 
Memorial Bridge with helicopters buzzing menacingly overhead.

I remember feeling that day that we were in some kind of a funnel, where 
the numbers of people kept narrowing.  At the outset there were possibly 
a hundred thousand people at the Lincoln Memorial with perhaps 50,000 
people continuing the march across the bridge. The majority of the 
demonstrators left Washington on the 5:00 o’clock buses after leaving us 
much of the food they had brought along, their final donation to our 
well-being.  The crowd got younger as we headed out towards the bridge.

As we walked, we talked about what had happened the week before in 
California. /Stop the Draft Week/ had erupted in Oakland with 3000 
demonstrators converging on the Oakland induction center.  Some of the 
demonstrators were wearing helmets and carrying shields to ward off 
police attacks but the cops had used Mace on the demonstrators and 
attacked them with a vengeance, injuring about 20 and arresting 25.  By 
Friday morning there were 10,000 demonstrators around the induction 
center, many of them using what came to be known as “mobile tactics.”  
When the police began to attack, they blockaded intersections with 
whatever they could lay their hands on and then took off running.  The 
stories of that confrontation rippled through the march and it was 
rumored that some veterans of that battle had driven across country to 
join us.  These were our people and I wondered which of our old friends 
from Berkeley had been involved and who was in the crowd with us.

We crossed the bridge with great anticipation.  At some point, the 
police blocked us from marching toward our preferred route.  In response 
we sat down on the bridge, tens of thousands of us as far as you could 
see, forcing the government to yield.

The government had brought in more than 6,000 Army troops.  Twenty 
thousand were on alert around the country.  Two thousand National Guard 
troops and 2,000 Washington police were on hand.  Eight hundred cops 
were stationed at the capitol and secret service helicopters hovered 
over the White House.  Their central command post was inside the Pentagon.

The levitation of the Pentagon was one of the first successful aspects 
of the day, providing creative imagery of the fusing of politicos and 
acid heads into an activist community.  Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg 
of the The Fugs, decked out in multi-colored capes, provided the music.  
Alan Ginsberg opened the ceremony with what would become his hallmark 
“Ommmmmmmmm.” Others led incantations of “Out, demons, out!” Truthfully 
I think the actual nuts and bolts of a levitation were not that high on 
my interest list, since my mind is foggy on the facts.  Or perhaps the 
levitation has just been overshadowed in my mind by the following events.

As we left the bridge area, there was a rush on the Pentagon by a 
militant contingent made up of SDS and a group calling themselves the 
Revolutionary Contingent. They broke down a fence and got right up to 
the Pentagon.  In fact, a few people actually made it inside for a brief 
moment until they were swiftly arrested.  As more protestors came across 
the bridge, this group that had rushed to the Pentagon began to swell 
into the largest contingent, putting ourselves in a direct confrontation 
with the troops who were lined up at the top of the stairs at the main 
entrance to the War Machine.

SDS and the Revolutionary Contingent were joined by hundreds of other 
protestors who were willing to risk arrest, but at the same time a legal 
rally was going on over at another area of the Pentagon.  As evening 
came on, many of the people from that legal rally left as well and we 
were down to a couple of thousand people.

Though SDS was not a sponsor, because of disagreements with the 
conception, they had joined the mobilization in the final hours and 
their contribution to the actual confrontation was significant.  They 
were a group of people who were able to coordinate their activities and 
move as one.  I remember feeling how we were just separate individuals, 
Jerry, Abbie, Anita, our friend Stew Albert and me.  You might think 
that we had some kind of tactical leadership role to play, or at least 
Jerry would have.  But that was not the case, as far as I can remember.  
As would happen many times in the future, we had helped to create the 
stage, had set up the situation as best we could, but had no clue as to 
how to physically influence the actual event. Inevitably there were 
others who would move in to fill that vacuum.

As the sun went down, it became cooler and cooler.  The crowd was 
getting younger and younger.  We were on our own.  The protection of the 
older generation was disappearing.  Even Uncle Dave was gone.  We heard 
that Dellinger, Norman Mailer and several others had been arrested early 
on in a choreographed civil disobedience action, crossing over a 
forbidden line and being taken into custody.  I had never been arrested 
before and I remember feeling apprehensive about what was going to 
happen.  It was a volatile and unpredictable situation. We had no idea 
what was going to transpire.  Would we be there for an hour?  Would they 
mace us as in Oakland?

Maybe they would even shoot us?  This was not a situation for anyone who 
needed to be in control, who needed to know for sure what was going to 
happen next. You had to go with the flow and some of the possibilities 
were really frightening.

As it played out, there were moments of exhilaration and community.  And 
there were moments of outright fear.  As we jockeyed for space there was 
physical, literally face-to-face, confrontation with the army. The scene 
became very tense and we finally, at the suggestion of SDS, all sat 
down.  When we started out that day we had no idea how many people would 
stay. Maybe it would just be a handful in the end.  However, the actual 
numbers lifted our spirits; there were well over a thousand of us.  But 
what’s more, the group that remained seemed to beat with one heart and 
that gave everyone strength.  We were on a mission and we knew we were 
right.  We looked to the right and we looked to the left and we knew 
that all of us would remain up until the point of arrest.  For hours 
there was an impromptu teach-in to the troops.  People climbed up on a 
ledge and, using a bullhorn, spoke to the troops.  There was an open 
mike (well, actually a bullhorn) for anyone who wanted to speak.  I did 
not have the confidence to speak, but I was very proud of what people said.

It has been said that our movement was disrespectful of the troops, but 
I don’t think so at all.  We were speaking the truth to them.  Those 
truths had the potential to save their lives, as well as the lives of 
millions of Vietnamese.

That evening at the Pentagon, Berkeley non-student activist and future 
yippie  Stew Albert addressed the troops:

    I went to PS 206 in Brooklyn, and when I was in school nobody liked
    the monitors.  They were kids like us, but they worked for the
    strict teachers.  We didn’t like them when we were kids, so why
    should we like them now?  We always considered the monitors to be
    finks.  And now you guys are acting like monitors. Join us!

In unison, the crowd spontaneously chanted “Join us! Join us!”

We were right up against the troops.  When Super Joel, one of the 
earlier levitators, stepped forward and placed a flower in the bayoneted 
gun barrel of one of the soldiers, it became an iconic image.  Other 
protestors followed suit.  (Paul Krassner later pointed out that Super 
Joel’s grandfather was the mafia boss Sam Giancana and that Super Joel 
had dropped out of the family business.)  The confrontation between 
demonstrators and troops lasted thirty-three hours, all through the 
first night and until midnight of the second night.  Especially during 
the night, the soldiers would every now and then make forays into the 
front of the crowd, clubbing a few people and dragging a few others away 
to be arrested.  We sat, arms locked as tight as possible, to impede 
them as much as possible and to protect one another.  In the end they 
dragged away everyone who remained.  Well over a thousand people were 
arrested, with 780 of us held and several hundred released.  Some people 
were beaten or gassed.

I was arrested alongside Anita Hoffman.  It was the first time either of 
us had been under arrest.  I would later learn that it was a very 
atypical arrest experience.  They took hundreds of us, all women, to 
what seemed to be a huge dormitory.  There were scores and scores of 
cots lined up next to each other, like being in a huge summer camp.  
Anita and I were able to stay together and were on cots right alongside 
each other.  The camaraderie was palpable and exciting. After spending 
the night on our cots, we were herded to court and as counseled by our 
movement lawyers, we pleaded /nolo contendre/, meaning we don’t say 
we’re guilty, we don’t say we’re not guilty, we just don’t contest it.  
This was worked out between the government and our lawyers.  We did what 
we were advised, paid a small fine and went home.

Later, we learned that several paratroopers had left the line, saying 
they wouldn’t be part of the military any more, and they were now held 
in the stockade.  Dave Dellinger reported that over the years he kept 
meeting veterans who said they were on duty that day and had been 
affected by the teach-in.  Much later we learned that Secretary of 
Defense Robert McNamara had watched the entire battle from his fifth 
floor office, accompanied by his young assistant Daniel Ellsberg who 
later released the famous Pentagon Papers.

Years later, when asked about Jerry and the hippie entry into the peace 
movement, Dave Dellinger offered this: “What I remember is just being 
thrilled and excited that this whole new element of humor and creativity 
and youthful zest was coming into things”

Were we right or wrong in our conflict with The Mobe? The final outcome 
of the Pentagon demonstration was awesome.  It was one of the most 
successful activities I have ever been involved with.  I believe the 
character was greatly affected by our continuously agitating for a 
militant, theatrical, unpredictable scenario.  It was that projection 
that attracted thousands of young people and forced the government to 
dig in its heels, threatening to deny our basic civil liberties.  That 
denial then brought thousands of additional people into the protest.  In 
our estimation of the final negotiations with the government lawyer Van 
Cleve, perhaps we were too pessimistic about what we had already won, 
but that’s much easier to say in hindsight.  We wanted no rock left 
unturned in our effort to make this a successful political 
confrontation.  In the end, the victory was really a result of the 
energy and the numbers of the people that participated.  Even the 
children of officials in the Johnson Administration were joining us.  In 
a political sense the country was now really at war with itself. This 
realization seemed to hold within itself the possibility that we could 
end the war with Vietnam.

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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