Beginning in April 1970
an amazing chain of events transpired to imprint Jimi's legacy into
While the song Woodstock by Crosby, Stills, Nash
& Young was climbing up the record charts, the three hour movie
of that three day festival opened
in packed theaters around the country. The marketing of Woodstock produced
shockwaves in the straight world as back-to-nature, altered
consciousness, hippie lifestyles became the height of youth fashion.
None of this was promoted on television. The establishment appeared to
have lost all control as the "underground" surfaced towards the
1970 Earth Day in New York
The Student Mobilization Committee sponsored a
week of demonstrations from April 13th through the 18th. A nationwide
student strike on April 15th targeted Internal Revenue Service offices
around the country. Reenactments of the Boston Tea Party were staged in
Chicago, Des Moines, and Boston. In New York 30,000 people gathered in
Bryant Park. A band of 100 militants interrupted the reading of the
names of the war-dead and then prevented speakers from appearing.
they took over the podium and led the crowd in chants of "Revolution
Now!" In Berkeley the
University was closed and declared to be in a state of emergency after
two days of rioting
following police attacks on students who tried to close down the campus
ROTC building. The
largest turnout occurred in Boston where more than 75,000 people
assembled on the Common. Several thousand marched over to Cambridge
where they smashed windows, set fires in Harvard Yard and chanted,
"How're the nation's elite?" More than 200 people were injured as
with demonstrators through the night and arrested 35.
One week later Let It Be by
The Beatles topped the charts on the first Earth Day.
After he observed the massive turnout for the
November 1969 Moratorium protests in Washington, Sen. Gaylord Nelson
(D-Wis.) proposed a nationwide teach-in on environmental problems. For
the next four months
a volunteer group coordinated the effort and on Wednesday, April 22nd,
Earth Day was observed
in more than 2000 American communities. Focusing attention on
pollution, it was a middle-of-the-road demonstration designed for the
family. So many politicians took part in Earth Day that Congress shut
down on April 22nd. Senators and Congressmen fanned out across the
as all bands of the political spectrum jumped on the anti-pollution
bandwagon (in words, at least). Fifth Ave. was blocked off in New York
while 100,000 people gathered to demonstrate
their concern for the environment and listen to radio broadcasts of
John Lennon's new tune, Instant Karma:
Well we all shine on,
like the Moon and the Stars and the Sun...
In Washington, 1700 students marched to the
Interior Department and poured quarts of oil on the sidewalk to protest
oil spills in the ocean. Universities sponsored lectures on the
fragility of the eco-system and hundreds of thousands of school
children roamed through parks
and city streets to collect tons of litter cast off by the consumer
At dinnertime this night, Clyde Kinney complains
to his parents, "They made us walk around and pick up garbage at school
"If they wanna beautify America they should make
them hippie fags git a haircut," snarls Jack.
Mick curls his lip. "Hippies aren't ugly, the
"What man?" asks Cheryl.
"The Mean And Nasty!" answers Mick.
Henry tosses his chicken wing back on his plate.
"Jumpin' Jesus Christ! Do we hafta hear this crap night after night?"
Claudia reproaches Mick, "We told you not to talk
crazy around here!"
"Jack said America would be beautiful if hippies
cut their hair. He's the one who's nuts."
Claudia drops her fork and slaps his mouth. "Don't
you call us names!"
"You don't hafta hit me!"
"Don't talk back!" she yells as she swings at him
again. He catches her hand and pushes it
away. Claudia springs from her seat and grabs his collar. "HOW DARE YOU
RAISE YOUR HAND TO ME! YOU UNGRATEFUL RAT!" she screams, yanking him
off his chair and onto the floor. SLAP! SLAP! SLAP! "GET OUT OF MY
Mick runs up to the attic. Straightening the
collar of his shirt he turns on Clyde's radio. Almost Cut My
Hair from the new
CSNY album is fading out on WCFM. DJ Spacey Daisy reports in a tranquil
voice, "There's been a lot of protest against pollution today, here's a
little air freshener from Woodstock to help clean
up the establishment." Like a breath of revolution Jimi's Star
Spangled Banner sighed from
the little transistor, followed by the cyclonic fury of Purple
Haze. When the music ends Spacey Daisy announces, "Jimi
begins a three month tour of the country this
week. He'll be playing in more than thirty cities and at least three
outdoor festivals." The news helps take Mick's mind off his savage
family. He spends the
remainder of Earth Day doing homework. Turning a page of his history
book he listens to radio news about Viet Cong supply dumps in Cambodia
and wonders what life is like in a place with such an exotic name.
Credence Clearwater's Bad Moon Rising begins to
play on CFM and chases away his thoughts of foreign lands.
On the last day of April a heat wave hits western
New York and greenery begins sprouting
on bushes and trees around the Kinney house. After dinner Henry and
Claudia drive over to
the grade school for an Open House meeting between parents and
teachers. Cheryl stays home with the
boys and Mick is quick to sneak next door to visit Lane. "Your 'rents
go to Open House?" he asks
at the back door.
Of Gypsys album cover
Top-5 on charts, Spring/Summer 1970
"Yeah, they already split." Lane says. "C'mon,
I'll show ya Jimi's new album." He leads Mick into the front room and
lowers the TV volume, pointing to the coffee table, "There's the
cover." The disc is already on the turntable. Lane walks over and
tone arm while Mick examins the jacket. Jimi looks almost dejected, he
thinks, hunched over
his Strat in the cover photo. The weird colors make his face appear to
be covered with bruises. For a moment the notion that someone had
roughed up Jimi crosses Mick's mind, but he quickly
dismisses it. Who could threaten a superstar? he naively asks himself.
boys listen to Jimi's Band
Of Gypsys, Malcolm and Cliff stroll into the house
and flop onto the
front room sofa.
"Did you see the Woodstock
movie yet?" Mick asks them.
"Yeah, but they left a lot of the best parts out,"
"They really butchered Jimi's set and the camera
angles suck," adds Malcolm, glancing at
the soundless TV. He sees the president pointing at a map of Southeast
Asia. "What's Pig Nixon squealin' about?" Reaching over to the set he
raises the volume as Lane lowers the stereo. They
listen with rising anxiety as Nixon announces that 48,000 South
troops and American aircraft had crossed Vietnam's boarder and invaded
the neighboring country of Cambodia. Another 30,000 U.S. troops are
As the president speaks, the skies over North Vietnam are raining bombs
from stepped up B-52 raids. Malcolm and Cliff feel sick. Mick and Lane
feel sick. Millions of Americans despair for the thousands of teenage
boys who are being sacrificed to the capitalist god-of-greed. Pig Nixon
calls for national
unity against the enemy and the counterculture units against him, his
brain-trained supporter's and their leeching war industries.
Malcolm tunes out the news and turns off the TV.
Cliff stares out the window. Lane breaks the tension by raising the
volume on Jimi's new album:
evil man make me kill ya
evil man make you kill me
evil man make me kill you
even though we're only families apart…
Malcolm reachs for the dial and turns the volume
up all the way.
same way you shoot me down, baby
you'll be goin' just the same
three times the pain
and your own self to blame,
yeah machine gun…
Draft age teens nationwide ride Jimi's
guitar-weapon alarm-siren like a twisting aural surf. This deafening
channel from another world drains their aggression and soothes their
after while your cheap talk don't even cause me
so let your bullets fly like rain…
Gun from Fillmore East, NY - Jan. 1, 1970 -
version released on Hendrix Band Of Gypsys album
The album release of Machine Gun
couldn't be more timely. Violence over greed, that's the disease; the
war in Vietnam, and now Cambodia, is just a symptom. Capitalist laws
are tailored to profit-making and the laws make "free" greed driven men
who reign terror over
underprivileged victims. "Private possession" of part of the landscape
is an arbitrary proclamation from armed and greedy men, chest-beating
bullies who draw lines in the sand and dare others to cross. They rely
on brute force to "defend" what they've confiscated. But it's the right
of everyone to have equal access to all distributable resources on
Earth. The wealth of p.i.g.s. has been stolen from us all.
Since the Experience broke up at the end of June
1969, Jimi had been gigging sporadically: the Tonight Show, Woodstock,
a Harlem benefit, the Dick Cavett Show, the Salvation Club, and five
concerts in New York with his new band. Now, with his Band of
Gypsys album in the record shops, and the Woodstock album and
movie craze in full bloom, Jimi begins a U.S. tour playing mostly
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in more than 30 cities. Musically, these
are by far the greatest performances he ever gave and, ironically,
they've received the least critical acclaim in retrospect. Almost every
single recap and account of Jimi's career that has been fed to his fans
has briefly glossed over the
1970 American tour as if it was a half dozen dull and poorly
received shows. But recordings of more than two dozen of these shows
have been collected and anyone who listens to them critically will
conclude that 1970 was the most inspired concert period for Jimi as far
as musical development is concerned.
In the spring of 1970 the new Woodstock
and Band Of Gypsys albums were the first records of
"live" concert music
from Jimi and they contain his infamous version of the Star
Spangled Banner and his anti-war masterpiece Machine
These records transformed his public image by singling him out as the
creative non-violent protest. To appreciate the historical intersection
of this politicized image with the anti-war movement, we must fathom
the tragic urgency which
consumes the counterculture in May of 1970.
The morning after Nixon appeared on television he
goes to the Pentagon for a briefing
on the Cambodia invasion from the Joint Chiefs. Leaving that meeting he
speaks to reporters:
"You know, you see these bums blowin' up
the campuses; listen,
the boys that are on the college campuses today are the luckiest people
in the world."
By nightfall Stanford University is undergoing the
worst riots in its history. At Ohio State the National Guard is called
out and a student is shot by a gun carrying Guardsman.
At Kent State in Ohio students burn down the ROTC building. Student
editors from eleven major universities meet in New York to issue a call
for a nationwide student strike. The National Student Association and
the Moratorium Committee also call for a nationwide university strike
starting immediately; within hours more than a hundred colleges and
universities announce participation.
All through the second weekend of Jimi's tour in
early May, demonstrations flare across
the country to protest the war's escalation. While bombs rain on
Cambodia, the counterculture blares Machine Gun and
the Star Spangled Banner from loudspeakers, "the
way it really is," as Jimi said. In homes, in concerts, and in movie
theaters he represents the resistance. The unprecedented power of his
playing had made him the musical head of the anti-war culture and his
politicized image is now fully exposed to mainstream culture. By 1970
rock music has assumed exaggerated and powerful influence on the
thinking of the baby boom generation.
records are more than a mere thorn in the side of parents who have to
music that their kids play. It's the war industries that take even
closer note of rock
music's effect on their ability to continue the war, and after Monday,
May 4th, the establishment's concern
Protests against the invasion of Cambodia are
bitter and volatile on campuses. Students
are completely fed up with the absurdity of old men ordering young guys
to die for the paychecks of racist good-ole-boys. The government is an
instrument of evil men. Draft age people are compelled to abandon their
peace-and-love stance of recent years. A courageous resistance movement
dedicates itself to the bombing of governmental/military/industrial
targets. The Senate Subcommittee on Investigations cited 4,330 such
bombings over the past year alone - an average of more than nine a day.
The establishment turns turgid with paranoia and resentment; it is
their "right" to wage war against poor Asians who seek collective
equity. When draft age victims resist the p.i.g.s., the M.A.N. is
ready with mercenaries. No one's gonna spoil their blood-money orgy
without gettin' hurt.
Those who were brutalized and killed in attempts to obstruct
are the unsung heros of the Vietnam War.
Burned ROTC Building Set
On Monday, May 4th almost all American campuses
host some form of denouncement of the
Cambodian invasion. But at Kent State University in Ohio, student
assembly is banned after the
ROTC building was burned on Saturday night. The M.A.N. had to suppress
student outrage over
draft laws that made profit-bait out of teenage boys. Students are
expected to pay tuition to
universities and have school officials - their employees! - dictate
silence in response to
an unfair draft (disproportionally black) that threatens the lives of
all college age males. But at Kent State the administrators are not
responsible for calling out the Dogs on Saturday. University President
Robert White was in Iowa delivering a speech on Saturday. None of his
even consulted on the decision to move in six hundred M-1 rifle
carrying troops. That decision is
made by Ohio Governor James Rhodes for very political reasons; Rhodes
is the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in a close primary
election which is to take place on Tuesday. In a ploy to gain Ohio
votes by cracking down on student protesters, Governor Rhodes
the Dogs a license to kill. On Sunday night Guardsmen herd Kent State
students into their dormitories.
This is not what these kids pay the University for. They fight back; 69
of them are busted and a girl is stabbed by an M-1 bayonet. Most of the
Guardsmen are working class youths about the same age as the students,
most of them have been
called away from civilian jobs in the Akron and Canton areas. Many
working class soldiers resent students from the privileged
class. Their latent rage is easily aimed at any target the M.A.N.
of them are trained to hate what they subconsciously crave. They seek
destruction as sensory substitutes for hidden drives they can't
satisfy. Envy and frustration stirs these pawns of capitalists; it's
the M.A.N.'s game and it's a pattern that elitists have benefited from
all along. Military "personalities" are prone to be conditioned; they
need to be told what to think and feel. And the M.A.N. is there to tell
Ruins of the ROTC Building
Kent State students organize a demonstration for
noon on Monday. Guardsmen are ordered
to place their M-1 rifles in "lock and load" - ready to fire positions.
A jeep carries three
of them with fixed bayonets and a campus policeman with a bullhorn.
They leave the ranks of the troops and drive onto the Commons - a large
rectangular grassy plot surrounded by buildings.
One side of the Commons slops up to a grove of trees atop a knoll. Four
times the jeep circles the perimeter of the rectangle as the cop shouts
through his bullhorn, "Attention all KSU students! You have five
minutes to leave this area! Leave this area immediately!"
P.I.G.S. Pass Gas
"One, two, three, four - we don't want your bloody
war!" chant the protesters, waving clenched fists. The jeep stops and
troops with fixed bayonets move forward. Tear gas canisters are
launched into the crowd. Students move back and reform at the top of
knoll overlooking the Commons. Several of them charge down and scoop up
the gassing shells
to fling back at the troops. Someone rings a tower-bell and the clarion
sound rallies the
students to run down the hill shouting, "The campus belongs to the
people!" and "Sieg Heil!"
More troops march into the area and students line the rooftops
overlooking the Commons
as the crowd of demonstrators below swells to 1000. The entire field is
covered with grey haze
that forces the teary eyed students to split up and run behind the
administration building on
the knoll. Troops pursue them as they run down to a practice football
field. The crowd now
numbers 1500. Thirty guardsmen form in regiment order with their backs
to a fence along the
football field. Students surround them on three sides. A freek in a
carries a green flag on a pole and leads a crowd of 100 towards the
encircled troops; some in the
crowd toss stones the size of golfballs. Most of the guardsmen are out
of throwing range,
but a few are struck. Their homicidal urges are unleashed. They retreat
to the top of the
hill and open fire. There were no warning shots nor any verbal notice
given. Within 13 seconds 6l shots are fired at
the unarmed students. The war comes home to America.
At first people assume that blanks are being
fired. It's unthinkable that troops
would discharge such a barrage of bullets at students pelting stones.
But 15 victims fall to the
ground, some of them mere spectators. The target closest to the
guardsmen is 71 feet
away, the farthest away is shot from a distance of 730 feet. Students
look around in
shock as the satiated trigger-criminals retreat from their orgy.
Sandy Scheuer was a 20 year old student from
Youngstown, Ohio. She was a pretty girl with
long dark hair who lived off campus and liked to cook. Her friends
looked strangely at reporters who asked about her politics. "She was
concerned about what happened, but like everybody else she didn't know
what to do about it." said her roommate. Another friend said she
was, "the little sister of the fraternity. I guess you could say she
was the comic for all
the kids." Sandy was on her way to speech therapy class with Sharon
Swanson when they were
caught in the swirl of disorder. They hid behind cars. "Sandy must have
thought it was over
and stood up." Sharon said, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I saw her
lying there, hit in
the neck." At her funeral service the rabbi said that her parents
called her Gittel, which
Jeffery Miller was from Plainview, Long Island. He
too was 20 years old and for a while
he dated Sandy Scheuer. Jeffery was a transfer student from Michigan
State who enjoyed tennis
and sports. "He didn't really want to go to school," said a friend, "he
did, but he didn't."
Another friend described him as "concerned, but he wasn't an activist."
He was learning to
play the drums. On May 4th Jeffery Miller was on his way to class when
his skull was split
open by a National Guard bullet. He lay in a pool of blood on the
sidewalk, his eyes were
crossed and blood poured from his nose and mouth. In his wallet was a
railroad ticket for
Long Island and on his notebook he had printed "Rocky for President in
'72" (Nelson Rockefeller - conservative mogul Governor of New York).
Allison Krause was a freshman from Pittsburgh who
had just celebrated her 19th birthday.
She was most frequently described as "beautiful". She was of medium
height with dark curly
hair and a proud, Indian-like face. Her main concern was her boyfriend,
Barry. She planned to
transfer to a college in Buffalo because Barry was going to do so.
Allison and Barry were on
their way to class when they heard shots ring out. Barry dropped to the
ground but Allison
hesitated to look around. Her books tumbled out of her arms when she
was hit in the left
shoulder and bled to death in her boyfriends arms before anything could
be done. By all accounts she had no interest in politics, she only
believed in peace.
William Schroeder of Lorain, Ohio was a handsome,
husky 19 year old who wore his light
brown hair cut short. He was an Eagle Scout at age 13, was good at
basketball and was second
in his ROTC class at Kent State. At Lorain High School he played
varsity basketball, was captain of the cross country team and graduated
with an A-minus average. "This kid was not a radical," said a Loraine
police inspector who had known him for 15 years. In 1968 William won
a scholarship to the Colorado School of Mines. He transferred to Kent
State in 1970 so he
could major in psychology. His parents described him as an "extra
special son" who never got
into trouble. They said he hoped for peace but wasn't the type to take
part in a demonstration.
William was merely watching the disorder when a National Guard bullet
struck him in the left
chest. Friends called him an "all-American type" who was quiet and
enjoyed playing the trumpet.
Dean Kahler of East Canton, Ohio was permanently
paralyzed from the waist down by a bullet. Ten other students were
wounded, three of them critically.
People shout for ambulances. Hysterical students scream, "Kill the
pigs!" A professor
weeps. In ten minutes the dead and wounded are taken away. Crying
onlookers are incoherent
with rage. A despairing kid jumps up and down in the roadside pool of
Jeffrey Miller's blood. The crowd disperses from a nightmare and the
university shuts down.
National Guard riot training regulations require
that all guardsmen on duty be given
written rules that stipulate when they can open fire. Riot troops are
instructed to "aim low
to disable rather than kill." Troops are instructed to use only the
minimum force necessary and
the rules say specifically to "avoid bloodshed." The criminal Ohio
guardsmen quickly concoct
a story alleging that a sniper had fired a shot at them from a rooftop.
They claim that a
sniper was spotted by a police helicopter before they opened fire. But
the following day Highway Patrol official Major D.E. Manly said, "There
is nothing in the log on the sighting." Manly stated that if patrolmen
in the helicopter circling the campus had seen a gunman it would
have been recorded. No evidence was ever produced to suggest a sniper
had fired at the guardsmen. In addition, Gen. S.T. Delcorso stated, "No
one gave an order to fire." (Years later a
recording is found of the incident and it contains a voice clearly
ordering the troops to open fire.) Even if a sniper had been
present, National Guard regulations
specifically require that, "Snipers should be engaged only on order and
by a single selected
marksmen or firing team. Laying down a barrage accomplishes nothing
constructive and endangers
the lives of innocent bystanders...Full fire power by small arms is
employed only on command
of the senior commander."
A presidential commission later found the guards'
action unwarranted and in 1974 eighteen
of the Kent State killers were indicted, but all of them were
acquitted. Nixon's pawns wanted
to sympathize with the guarddogs. Protesters are nothing but a thorn in
the side of a
gluttonous monster that prospers from the war. After eight years of
litigation the U.S.
government pays the families of the four dead students $675,000 to
split among themselves and
a note of regret.
Within hours of the killings the news spreads
across the country by radio and TV bulletins.
Eighty percent of American colleges and universities experience student
strikes. Over 500 campuses cancel classes, 51 of them shut down for the
remainder of the semester. More than four-million
students take part in demonstrations against the murders and the
Cambodian invasion. These
demonstrations are unprecedented in scope and the resulting violence is
unparalleled by any
previous crisis in the history of American education. Arson and
bombings flare on dozens of
campuses and 30 ROTC buildings are burned to the ground. The National
Guard is called out at
21 universities and thousands of enraged students are busted during
battles with police.
at Village Gate Club NYC on Night of Massacre
At 4:30 on Monday afternoon Malcolm Tent emerges
from his history class at the University of Rochester.
He and his classmates hear angry declarations echoing from a
loudspeaker and walk quickly
towards the crowd noise. Over a thousand students are gathered in front
of the Fredrick Douglas
Building to hear accusations delivered by a protester with a black
armband. "We mourn the
murders at Kent State. Responsibility for the deaths lies with our
national leaders. They
plunged the country deeper into the morass of the war and then when
students gathered to call
for peace, they responded with soldiers carrying loaded weapons," said
the speaker. A chill runs through Malcolm as he realizes the killings
can happen here. He joins the chants of "Peace Now!" but notices as
many clenched fists as peace signs waving over their heads.
Thirty-seven college and university presidents
draft a telegram to Nixon which reads, "The American invasion of
Cambodia and the renewed bombing of North Vietnam have caused
extraordinarily severe and widespread apprehension on our campuses. We
share this apprehension. We implore you to consider the incalculable
dangers of an unprecedented alienation of America's youth."
Five-hundred National Guard troops are called to the University of
Maryland where 2000 rioting students are dispersed by repeated barrages
of tear gas. Maryland's governor imposes a curfew and declares a state
of emergency after four persons are hospitalized and 107 arrested.
Three-thousand students roam through Syracuse University, breaking
windows and setting up blockades to prevent faculty members from coming
on campus. Police remove a firebomb
from the campus bookstore before it explodes. At the University of
Wisconsin the Guard is put on alert when hundreds of rioting students
smash windows and set fires. A supermarket
is destroyed by flames as students cheer. In San Francisco 1500
demonstrators storm into
City Hell and demand that the Board of Supervisors call for the
impeachment of Nixon.
in St. Paul on Eve of National Guard Attacks in Ohio -
and Film of His Memorial Jam for the Kent State Slain
Played Just Hours After the Massacre:
At Berkeley students overturn and burn ROTC trucks
and then march to the chancellor's
office to haul down the American and California flags and burn them.
The flaming banners are
raised to half-staff while the crowd chants, "Burn, Nixon, Burn!" At
Washington University in
St. Louis 2000 students celebrate the burning of the Air Force ROTC
building. They block
firemen who try to reach the fire and shout "Let it burn!" ROTC
buildings are occupied by
students at the U. of Nebraska, U. of Virginia, Central Michigan
University and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. At the
University of California at San Diego 200 demonstrators shut down the
space research lab for nine hours.
At midnight Malcolm and Cliff join 200 other U of R students in front of the administration building. Cliff smashes
through the windows and opens the doors to let everyone in.
The crowd seats themselves in the main hallway and begins an informal
discussion without anyone acting as the leader.
"I think we should decide why we're here." says a
soft spoken girl with wire-rim glasses
and short black hair. Others begin to vent their feelings.
"To shut down the university!"
"To burn down the university!"
"But the violence at Kent State shows us how the
war has spread inside this country," the
girl with the glasses counters, "the American people have to demand an
end to it."
"Burning their universities will convince them,"
points out a black militant.
"Washington would love to see the campuses burn
and disperse student protest," she
counters again. "We can accomplish more by shutting down the school and
forcing administrators to
pressure Washington for a change in policy." The majority present
agrees with her and
decide to occupy the building through the next day.
A rap session continues for an hour before Malcolm
and Cliff slip into one of the
offices where students are huddled around a radio. A joint is passed
around as they listen
to CFM reports of other unfolding demonstrations. After the news the
station airs Machine Gun. "Shit. Man, I forgot to
tell you in all this drag," Cliff exclaims to Malcolm. "Marty called
last night and said there's a festival in Philly on May sixteenth and
Hendrix is headlining
with the Grateful Dead and Steve Miller."
"Far out! My last exam is on the fifteenth."
"Mine too, we can leave right after."
The two of them stay with the sit-in all through
Tuesday and prevent school officials from entering their offices. There
any violence at the U of R and to keep it that way the administrators
calling the cops. Local news reporters show up to cover the incident
and a student spokesman
made a statement before the occupiers disperse. The past 24 hours have
been the bleakest day of the peace movement.
The days that follow are frustrating for Mick as
he repeatedly hears the Kinneys
praise the National Guard. This is the p.i.g.s.' brightest hour as
Nixon's braintrained pawns see Kent State as their cue to intimidate
protesters. Mick senses danger and dares not
interfere with the crazed celebration. He listens to the family with
unexpressed horror, while silently cheering reports of rampaging
students. From this deeply divided America he comes to understand how
civil war can happen.
By the end of the week record breaking heat
succumbs to record breaking cold in
Rochester as temperatures plunge into the mid 20s. On Friday Malcolm,
Cliff and a van full of
their friends leave town to join a mass march on Washington. Tensions
have reached fever pitch
all over the country. At noon in New York hundreds of students gather
on the steps of Federal Hall National Memorial near Wall Street - the
heart of corporate America. A mob of flag-carrying construction workers
from a nearby site push aside the few cops present and attack
the student protesters. The rampaging construction workers use their
orange and yellow hard-
hats to strike demonstrators as well as bystanders; 75 people are
injured and 11 of the demonstrators are hospitalized. The "hard-hats"
then invade City Hall where Mayor Lindsay had ordered flags flown at
half staff on this "day of reflection" for the Kent State dead. The
hard-hats demand that the flag be raised to full staff and one of them
climbs up the building and hoists the City Hall flag to full staff. The
man is seized by police but then released when a city councilman comes
to his defense. A mayoral assistant lowers the flag back
to half staff and the construction workers start chanting "Lindsay is a
red!" When the flag
is then raised a second time they sing the Star Spangled
Banner, out of key. Whipped into
a patri-neurotic frenzy, one of the hard-heads notices a peace-banner
hanging from a window at
nearby Pace College. The crazed gang storms the college, smashing
windows, attacking students
and burning the banner.
The Kinneys watch the Evening News and hear New
York's Police Commissioner say that
no arrests had been made during the hard-hat riot because police were
"Why didn't they call out the National Guard?"
"For what?" quips Jack. "Those guys did what any
patriotic American would do."
That's what any idiotic American would do, Mick
mutters to himself. He listens to more
reports of right wing violence.
"At the University of New Mexico in
Albuquerque today at least
nine people were hospitalized with bayonet wounds after a confrontation
between students and
National Guard troops. New Mexico State Police moved onto the campus
this afternoon and arrested
one-hundred-and-forty protesters who had been occupying the Student
Union Building since Wednesday. After the students were removed from
the campus, two-hundred National Guardsmen advanced on several hundred
more students outside the building. The stabbings occurred when troops
ringed the building to keep demonstrators away. Among those stabbed was
a TV news cameraman.
A University doctor said that the cameraman 'probably would have died
if the chest wound had
been an eighth inch deeper.'"
"See, they only call out the guard on protesters,"
Claudia orders him to shut up. "Those rabble
rousers deserve what they get," she sneers.
He turns to the TV and lets the next report answer
"A throng of protesters swarmed into a
tense and apprehensive Washington today for tomorrow's demonstration
that may top one-hundred-thousand persons. White House officials and
rally organizers worked out a
compromise whereby the demonstration will be held on the Ellipse, a
huge elm-lined circular
park just south of the White House. On Capitol Hill solemn students
lobbied in conference rooms, auditoriums, corridors and
in Senator's offices and urged an end to the war through legislative
action. Others set up
camp in Lafayette Park directly across from the White House. Organizers
promised to carry
their protest to 'the doorsteps of Mister Nixon's house', but the White
House has been cordoned
off so no one can get closer than a block's distance. Mrs. Nixon and
other members of the family who could hear chants of 'Seig Heil!'
outside the White House left for Camp David until the demonstration is
Mister Nixon's Out House, Mick thought to himself.
He prays that demonstrators can
reach the Out House pole and raise the Viet Cong flag. Later that night
he lays in bed
listening to CFM: "Hendrix continues his tour in the mid-west
this weekend with concerts tonight at the University of Oklahoma.
Tomorrow he'll play the Auditorium in Fort Worth and on Sunday the
Arena in San Antonio." Mick thinks of Jill at the University of
Oklahoma just before falling to sleep. He dreams of a huge rock
on the Out House lawn with the white-columned veranda used for a stage.
He sees the VC flag wave
overhead with Pig Nixon and his piglets held captive inside as Jimi
blasts their little brains
with the Scar Mangled Banner.
What did happen at the Out House the next day is
not too far removed from Mick's dream, in spirit anyway. Nixon, unable
to sleep as thousands of protesters surround his pen, flees to the
Lincoln Memorial at 5 a.m. Secret Service agents are alarmed to see
wander out of his limo-cage and start rapping to eight disgusted
demonstrators. A crowd gathers to hear the King of Babylon babble on
incoherently about surfing and sports. "It was unreal," said Ronnie
Kempler after she listened to him. "He wasn't really concerned with why
we are here."
"I hope it's because he's tired, but most of what
he's saying is absurd," said Joan
Pelletier. "Here we had come from a university that's completely
uptight, on strike, and when
we tell him where we're from he talks about football!"
"He didn't make sense," said a Syracuse student
named Lynn Shatekin. "People would ask him questions and he would talk
about something else."
Nixon returns to the barricaded Out House and
watchs televised football while the week
of mounting demonstrations comes to a climax. By mid-day 130,000
protesters are amassed on the
Ellipse across the street. As temperatures break into the mid-8Os the
throng begins to look like
a rock festival. Dozens of people are busted for swimming nude in the
reflecting pool. Cops
use tear gas to disperse bands of militants who try to tip over buses
parked bumper-to-bumper around the Out House. Five-thousand uniformed
troops are placed on alert in the city. Some of them pass gas at the
Justice Department when pelted with bottles and rocks. The powerful
loudspeakers set up on the Ellipse are easily heard inside the Out
Jane Fonda appears onstage to welcome the crowd by shouting, "Greetings
In front of the platform a black man is roped to a 13-foot cross. One
of the perspiring
freex who holds up the cross tells reporters, "He's up there to show
that Nixon is crucifying
the American people."
Students from Columbia, Pratt and New York
University carry blood drenched animal organs in a circle around the
Washington Monument and chant, "End the Agony! End the Pain! End the
Murders!" The west end of the Ellipse roars with cheers when hundreds
of people march
into the crowd with banners reading, "Federal Employees for Peace" and
"Federal Bums Against
the War". More than 300 draft cards are collected and brought to the
platform to be burned.
At 4 p.m. marchers carrying rows of coffins lead
the procession up 15th Street towards the
Out House. The crowd has their best chance to stage a sit-down when
they reach H Street. But
because this demonstration has been organized in just 10 days (six
times faster than any previous march on Washington), the organizers
didn't have time to agree on a plan to direct a sit-down. Fearing a
massacre by federal troops, the street marshals discourage people from
entering H Street where the sit-down would have been most effective.
Marshals also discourage small groups from staging separate sit-downs
and, instead, lead the procession to Arlington Cemetery. Several
thousand people follow the coffins to the Out House where one coffin is
pushed over the bus barricade. Cops pass gas and militants trash the
streets; 300 busts
result. Most of the people are waiting to join in a mass sit-down but
the lack of direction
leaves them unclear about where or when it will happen. As things turn
out, the crowd simply
disperses at Arlington Cemetery. Despite the atmosphere of tension and
anger, the overall
demonstration is ironically peaceful.
At dusk Malcolm and Cliff join hundreds of
militants at George Washington University.
Under rows of Viet Cong "enemy" flags, they march to DuPont Circle
chanting "Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh - NLF Is
Going To Win!" (NFL = National Liberation Front of "enemy" North
Vietnam, headed by Marxist leader Ho Chi Minh). Along the way they hurl
bricks and rocks through plate glass windows of banks and savings and
loan associations. D.C. cops attack them with their familiar magic
Cliff gets clubbed on the head. Malcolm grabs his arm and leads him
stumbling down a side street.
They'd received their share of abuse. It's time to go home and heal
until the next round.
The following day 200,000 people gather in a Paris
park. A government official calls
it "the largest expression ever seen of the French people's
determination to bring an end to
American aggression...against the odious massacres ordered by Nixon."
Throughout the weekend
West Berlin is wracked by protests against the Cambodian invasion.
Outbursts on Saturday leave
261 cops injured; 24 of them are hospitalized along with 30
demonstrators. On Sunday a West
Berlin firm called General Leasing is firebombed by militants who
mistakenly think it's
American because of its English name. Also on Sunday, 500 Canadian
demonstrators stage a
"symbolic invasion" by marching 21 miles across the boarder into the
U.S. - the same distance
American troops have penetrated into Cambodia.
During the coming week Manhattan becomes a
battleground for protesters and counter-demonstraters.
On Monday thousands of hard-hats and longshoremen rally on Wall Street
in support of the
war. On Tuesday students from six eastern universities gather to
protest while police hold
back construction workers trying to attack them. On May 20th the
Building and Construction
Trade Council of Greater New York sponsors a pro-Nixon rally at City
Hell for 60,000 men.
The next day 20,000 anti-war protesters demonstrate in front of City
Hell and try to march
to Bryant Park. Police intercept them and a battle breaks out; l6
persons are injured.
Divisiveness in America has reached its deepest
level since the Civil War. Truong Nhu
Tang, himself a victim of civil war, recognizes this when he writes in A
American bombing and invasion of Cambodia largely accomplished its
immediate goals (I barely
survived it myself). Nixon and Kissinger justified it then and later as
an operation that gained
an essential year of time. Yet this 'victory' arguably did more to
undermine American unity
than any other event of the war. The American leaders braced themselves
to weather a storm of
protest that would, they thought, eventually subside. But how does one
judge the cumulative
effects on one's own body politic of ingrained distrust and ill will?
To achieve a year or so
of dubious battlefield grace, Nixon and Kissinger incurred a propaganda
defeat whose effects
are still apparent (fifteen years later) and, to the extent that they
have entered the American national psyche, may well be permanent.
Whatever the facts of who infringed first on Cambodian neutrality, the
significance of that engagement was that it helped separate the
American leadership from its internal support and instilled among many
Americans a lasting
skepticism about their government's morality. It was - to Vietnam's
revolution and to the
revolution's that have followed Vietnam - an enduring gift."