Well, Stop The Draft Week, which was the series of Oakland
demonstrations that were that immediately followed the October 16th
demonstration and filled the rest of that week, October 16th
was on a Monday and the Stop the Draft Week ran from Monday to Friday
. Those demonstrations had been an issue of discussion for you know four months leading up to October 16th
. And originally they had been designed as a way for people who couldn't send back draft cards or who weren't going to or weren't eligible or whatever to express their support for our actions. And quickly they became their own phenomenon unconnected to the resistance. And uh...
The resistance's worries, at least my worries in that situation, which were quite strong was that this was a situation where the organizers of it were quite blatantly attempting to create a situation where the police would attack the crowd and would inflict serious injury. And they were doing that under the logic that somehow this would radicalize people and therefore would be a political step ahead. And to those of us in the resistance, at least particularly to me, that seemed a way to manipulate people that was absolutely unconscionable.
We always believed that you had to tell people about the consequences right away, make sure they were prepared to accept the worst possible consequences before you got anybody involved in an action, that was the logic with which we organized. We didn't try to pump people up to send their draft cards back; we tried to get them to make careful considered decisions so they would be serious about what they were doing.
In this case, you know, the organizers did not even warn the crowd that for the last three months in private discussions about the demonstration that it was well understood by all of us that if the demonstration went out there and just milled around in the street as the organizers wanted to do that the streets were going to be cleared and that the Oakland
police were going to come down. That situation was further complicated by The Stop The Draft organizers' need to do a lot of heavy talk in the meetings.
You know, they'd sit around and say, "oh, I ain't gonna let no policeman grab me." You know, and they'd talk about the Black Panthers in Oakland
and how nobody could allow this kinda shit and if they come down on me I'm gonna have my piece, and I'm gonna, you know, nobody's gonna take me alive, you know. And this jive kept running around these meetings, you know, and each person would pump it up two levels so by the time the meeting was two hours old people'd be talking about using atomic bombs on the police station. You know, I mean, you know, it was at that kind of level of absurdity that we were dealing with.
But all that was listened to by police spies who then, of course, took it all back to the police so you got three hundred police out there on the streets of Oakland
believed that the 3,000 demonstrators that they're facing are all there primed to whale on them with whatever instruments are available.
And the end result was the police attacked the crowd, beat the Holy Jesus out of all kinds of people, including newsmen, including high school students. People were trapped in the induction center doorways and just whaled upon with clubs and tear gas was used, it was a mess. People just got completely clobbered. And I felt that that was all to be expected. This was, in fact, what anybody who organized that ought to have expected would happen. And I never shared the idea that the way we were supposed to radicalize people was to make them into victims.