1967 — The "Stop The Draft Week" attempt to shut down the military induction center in Oakland
Stop the Draft Week organizers led 3000 protesters to the Oakland Army Induction Center on October 15, 1967, two years to the day after the massive "Vietnam Day" marches of 1965. Some of the protesters sat down at the Induction Center entrance, forcing draftees and induction officials to climb over them in order to get inside the building. As inductees entered, protesters handed them leaflets asking them to change their minds and refuse induction and join the protest. When the demonstrators at or near the Induction Center entrance refused police orders to leave, police attacked them with nightsticks, injuring 20. Forty demonstrators were arrested, including the folk singer Joan Baez, pacifist activist Ira Perlman and David Harris, past Stanford student body president and draft resistance organizer.
On October 16, demonstrators returned to the induction center and 97 more were are arrested. On the 17th, a massive rally was held on the UCB campus (see photos below) and 10,000 protesters arrived at the Oakland Induction Center, peacefully retreating when confronted by police, but also successfully blocking streets as they departed. On Friday the 20th there were large-scale confrontations with police as the protesters used "mobile tactics" and fought back against police. Seven activists (Reese Eherlich, Terence Cannon, Mike Smith, Steve Hamilton, Bob Mandel, Jeff Segal and Frank Bardacke) were arrested and charged with conspiracy to create the violent clash with police. The "Oakland Seven" were all acquitted on March 28, 1969.
I was in Berkeley and Oakland for October 16-20, the last five days of the Stop The Draft Week. I took hundreds of photographs from which I chose a number for this website. The last photograph in this STDW section, showing the back of a line of police facing a cheering crowd of demonstrators was featured as a wall-sized print in the 2001 Oakland Museum's exhibit on "California and the anti-war movement."
On the first day of the protest people sat in at the doorway to the Oakland Induction Center.
No surprise that police and others just walked on top the bodies of the sit-iners.
Charismatic peace activist and singer Joan Baez took her place in the Induction Center doorway and was among those arrested.
I could have taken a thousand photos like this one.
Lyric by Buffalo Springfield.
Burning draft cards in the street.
At first the Oakland Police were satisfied to line up in the street to protect some unknown perimeter.
"And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die." Lyrics by Country Joe McDonald.
At night there was a lot of aimless milling around and socializing.
Not every sign or banner made perfect sense.
Graffiti "artists" protesting the war?
The Oakland Induction Center staff obligingly cleaned up after they were "tagged."
Draft resisters invaded the Oakland offices of Cecil Poole, United States Attorney for Northern California, to turn in hundreds of draft cards. At right Poole speaks to reporters.
October 16, 1967. Night-time Stop The Draft rally at UC Berkeley on the Sproul steps.
Stop The Draft rally at UCB in Sproul Plaza.
Taking a break at Bancroft and Telegraph after the October 16 night-time rally on the UC Berkeley campus.
October 17, 1967. The police violence against the STDW protestors in Oakland brought out a huge crowd on Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley.
The same rally for Stop The Draft Week. The UC Berkeley employees' union, AFSCME Local 1695, showed up to support the STDW protests and a strike of employees of the local ABC TV station.
We never knew what kind of police to expect: Oakland cops (left) or California Highway Patrol (right), or both.
A busload of inductees. Clearly, the women were volunteers, enlisting with the knowledge they would be "support" personnel, not combatants. Most of the 5,000 women who served in Vietnam were nurses and suffered few casualties. Unsurprisingly, volunteers didn't show any overt approval of what we were doing
Protesters tried to show their support for the inductees as they arrived. Who knows what they thought of the middle-class college students giving them the "V" for victory sign.
Some demonstrators drove up and offered to use their cars as barricades to prevent induction buses from disgorging or loading their cargo.
In the beginning, The Oakland cops were fairly well-behaved, just setting up formations that were designed to keep demonstrators away from the Induction Center. Demonstrators' tactics were non-violent, with a few exceptions mostly for self-defense.
This draft-card burner showed defiance, but the Highway Patrol Cops didn't take the bait.
Some police seemed to relish being photographed in recruitment poster poses.
By the second and third days, Oakland Police became more aggressive, brandishing their batons and using them to clear streets of demonstrators.
But, officer, that's not my car with a flat tire
Some photographers were targeted for a "whupping"
The Oakland cop on the left looks familiar (Vietnam Day October 15-16, 1965?) The cop in the middle seemed to be in some kind of trance.
I didn't see the guys on the right do anything provocative
You were in trouble if you got backed into a doorway by the Oakland cops
Dignity under duress.
We suggest, Sir, that you back up, carefully.
The improvised "barricades" were more symbolic than they were formidable.
The protesters didn't have flowers, the cops didn't have rifles and bayonets, demonstrators made do with spray paint.
This poor guy got his head cracked and had a brief seizure.
STDW medics attended to him and he seemed to recover.
I visited two of the injured demonstrators in the hospital, both with head wounds. I think they both survived without permanent damage. Someone recognized me as I took these photos, and my negatives were subpoeaned by Alameda County prosecutors as possible evidence against these two. My photos and my court testimony about them did not help the prosecution.
Michael Rossman was a grad student in Mathematics at UC Berkeley until 1966, when he became a full-time activist. For the last thirty years of his life he taught Science in elementary school. Mike died of Leukemia in 2008, at age 68. I liked Mike. He seemed modest and down-to-earth.
Inadvertent ironic insight.
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The "welcoming committee."
No real reason to include this photo except for the unique hat.
On one side it's a kick- ass message. Flip it over and it's something to be burned
By the end of the Stop The Draft Week, a lot of the demonstrators knew who I was and perhaps that's why I got this unexpected response when I stood behind a line of Highway Patrol officers to take a crowd picture.