Saturday, May 14, 2016

In Honor Of May Day 2016-From The American Left History Blog Archives -From The May Day Organizing 2012 Organizing Archives –May Day 2013 Needs The Same Efforts

In Honor Of May Day 2017-From The American Left History Blog Archives -From The May Day Organizing 2012 Organizing Archives –May Day 2013 Needs The Same Efforts

Boston's International Workers Day 2013

BMDC International Workers Day Rally
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at Boston City Hall
Gather at 2PM - Rally at 2:30PM
(Court St. & Cambridge St.)
T stops Government Center (Blue line, Green line)

To download flyer click here. (Please print double-sided)

Other May Day events:

Revere - @ City Hall - gather at 3:pmbegin marching at 3:30 (to Chelsea)
Everett - @ City Hall - gather at 3:pm begin marching at 3:30 (to Chelsea)
Chelsea - @ City Hall - rally a 3:pm (wait for above feeder marches to arrive) will begin marching at 4:30 (to East Boston)
East Boston - @ Central Square - (welcome marchers) Rally at 5:pm

BMDC will join the rally in East Boston immediately following Boston City Hall rally

Supporters: ANSWER Coalition, Boston Anti Authoritarian Movement, Boston Rosa Parks Human Rights Day Committee, Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition, Harvard No-Layoffs Campaign, Industrial Workers of the World, Latinos for Social Change, Mass Global Action, Sacco & Vanzetti Commemoration Society, Socialist Alternative, Socialist Party of Boston, Socialist Workers Party, Student Labor Action Movement, USW Local 8751 - Boston School Bus Drivers Union, Worcester Immigrant Coalition, National Immigrant Solidarity Network, Democracy Center - Cambridge, Cambridge, Cambridge/Somerville/Arlington United for Justice with Peace, International Socialist Organization, Community Church of Boston


All Out May Day 2012: A Day Without the 99% -General Strike Occupy Boston Working Group

In late December 2011 the General Assembly (GA) of Occupy Los Angeles, in the aftermath of the stirring and successful November 2nd Oakland General Strike and December 12th West Coast Port Shutdown, issued a call for a national and international general strike centered on immigrant rights, environmental sustainability, a moratorium on foreclosures, an end to the wars, and jobs for all. These and other political issues such as transparency and horizontal democracy that have become associated with the Occupy movement are to be featured in the actions set for May Day 2012.

May Day is the historic international working class holiday that has been celebrated each year in many parts of the world since the time of the Haymarket Martyrs in Chicago in 1886 and the struggle for the eight-hour work day. More recently it has been a time for the hard-pressed immigrant communities here in America to join together in the fight against deportations and other discriminatory aspects of governmental immigration policy.

Some political activists here in Boston, mainly connected with Occupy Boston (OB), decided just after the new year to support that general strike call and formed the General Strike Occupy Boston working group (GSOB). GSOB has met, more or less weekly, since then to plan our own May Day actions. The first step in that process was to bring a resolution incorporating the Occupy Los Angeles issues before the GA of Occupy Boston for approval. That resolution was approved by GA OB on January 8, 2012.

Early discussions within the working group centered on drawing the lessons of the West Coast actions last fall. Above all what is and what isn’t a general strike. Traditionally a general strike, as witness the recent actions in Greece and other countries, is called by workers’ organizations and/or parties for a specified period of time in order to shut down substantial parts of the capitalist economy over some set of immediate demands. A close analysis of the West Coast actions showed a slightly different model: one based on community pickets of specified industrial targets, downtown mass street actions, and scattered individual and collective acts of solidarity like student support strikes and sick-outs. Additionally, small businesses and other allies were asked to close and some did close in solidarity.

That latter model seemed more appropriate to the tasks at hand in Boston given its sparse recent militant labor history and that it is a regional financial, technological and educational hub rather than an industrial center. GSOB also came to a realization that successful actions in Boston on May Day 2012 would not necessarily exactly follow the long established radical and labor traditions of the West Coast. Our focus will be actions and activities that respond and reflect the Boston political situation as we attempt to create, re-create really, an on-going May Day tradition beyond the observance of the day by labor radicals and the immigrant communities.

Over the past several years, starting with the nation-wide actions in 2006, the Latin and other immigrant communities in and around Boston have been celebrating May Day as a day of action on the very pressing problem of immigration status as well as the traditional working class solidarity holiday. It was no accident that Los Angeles, scene of massive immigration actions in the past and currently one of the areas facing the brunt of the deportation drives by the Obama administration, would be in the lead to call for national actions this year. One of the first steps GSOB took was to try to reach out to the already existing Boston May Day Coalition (BMDC), which has spearheaded the annual marches and rallies in the immigrant communities, in order to learn of their experiences and to coordinate actions. After making such efforts GSOB has joined forces with BMDC in order to coordinate the over-all May Day actions.

Taking our cue from the developing Occupy May Day movement, especially the broader and more inclusive messages coming out of Occupy Wall Street, GSOB has centered our slogans on the theme of “Occupy May First - A Day Without the 99%” in order to highlight the fact that in capitalist America labor, of one kind or another, has created all the wealth but has not shared in the accumulated profits. Highlighting the increasing economic gap, political voiceless-ness, and social issues related to race, class, sexual inequality, gender and the myriad other oppressions we face under capitalism is in keeping with the efforts initiated by Occupy Boston last fall.

On May Day GSOB is calling on the 99% to strike, skip work, walk out of school, and refrain from shopping, banking and business in order to implement that general slogan. We encourage working people to request the day off, or to call in sick. Small businesses are encouraged to close for the day and join the rest of the 99% in the streets.

For students at all levels GSOB is calling for a walk-out of classes. Further we call on college students to occupy the universities. With a huge student population of over 250,000 in the Boston area no-one-size-fits- all strategy seems appropriate. Each kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, graduate school and wayward think tank should plan its own strike actions and GSOB suggests at some point in the day that all meet at a central location in downtown Boston.

In the early hours on May 1st members of the 99% will converge on the Boston Financial District for a day of direct action to demand an end to corporate rule and a shift of power to the people. The Financial District Block Party will start at 7:00 AM on the corner of Federal Street & Franklin Street in downtown Boston. Banks and corporations are strongly encouraged to close down for the day.

At noon there will be a permit-approved May Day rally at Boston City Hall Plaza jointly sponsored by BMDC and GSOB. Following the rally participants are encouraged to head to East Boston for solidarity marches centered on the immigrant communities that will start at approximately 2:00 PM and move from East Boston, Chelsea, and Revere to Everett for a rally at 4:00 PM. Other activities that afternoon for those who chose not to go to East Boston will be scheduled in and around the downtown area.

That evening, for those who cannot for whatever reasons participate in the daytime actions, there will be a “Funeral March” for the banks forming at 7:00 PM at Copley Square that steps off at 8:00 PM and will march throughout the downtown area.

The GSOB is urging the following slogans for May 1st. - No work. No school. No chores. No shopping. No banking. Let’s show the 1% that we have the power. Let’s show the world what a day without the 99% really means. And let’s return to the old traditions of May Day as a day of international solidarity with our working and oppressed sisters and brothers around the world. GSOB urges -All Out For May Day 2012!

In Boston May 21, 2016-Chelsea Manning Stand-Out-Six Years Is Enough-More Than Enough-Free Chelsea Now!

In Boston May 21, 2016-Chelsea Manning Stand-Out-Six Years Is Enough-More Than Enough-Free Chelsea Now!    


*****Ain’t Got No Time For Corner Boys Down In The Street Making All That Noise

*****Ain’t Got No Time For Corner Boys Down In The Street Making All That Noise


From The Pen Of Sam Lowell


Out In The Be-Bop 1950s Night-- When Billie Ruled The Roost- Second First Take

He was the first. A certified 1958 A-One prime custom model first. Yes, Billie was the first. Billie, William James Bradley that is if you did not know his full moniker, was the first. No question about it, no controversy, no alternate candidates, no hemming and hawing agonizing about this guy’s attributes or that guy’s style and how they lined up against Billie’s shine in order to pick a winner. No way, get it.

Billie, first in what anyway? Billie, first, see, first in line of the then ever sprouting young schoolboy king corner boy wannabes. Wannabes because the weres (or the alreadys if you want to put a time frame on the matter), the corner boy weres (ditto on the alreadys), the already king corner boy weres (no need for ditto alreadys after this one), the older, say sixteen to twenty somethings since after that the only corner they were hanging in was in some county or state pen doing that first nickel for armed robbery or threat of armed robbery which is the same thing if you are a frightened Mom and Pop store owner or a kid gas jockey at a filling station), mainly not schoolboys or, christ, not for long schoolboys (for about six different reasons from being too stone cold dumb to get out of eight grade and hence too old to be robbing fellow students of lunch money to the best one when Red Radley hung the headmaster out to dry from his office and was asked to leave under penalty of three to five somewhere), mainly not working, jesus, mainly not working (working relegated to what their poor sap fathers were up to and thus square, double square) mainly just hanging around ("lying about," not laying about, was a name for it from Grandma Radley who had a distinct sneer on her face when she utter the sounds, a fit name at that) were already playing, really hip-swaying, lazily hip-swaying if you wanted to win games, wizard pinball machines in the sacred corner boy small town mom and pop variety night (not the same locale not that anybody had heard ant they would where a frightened Mom or Pop was held up at gunpoint) or cueing up in some smoke-filled big town pool hall (and playing high school kids for vagrant quarters to feed the jukebox).

Or working on hot souped-up cars (half the materials stolen from “midnight auto” the rest from Joe’s Junkyard the burial grounds for has-been automobile or ill-fated ones which did not survive the two o’clock in the morning “chicken runs” down the far end of Adamsville Boulevard to see who was the king hell king of the hot rod night not an unimportant title among that crowd), a touch of grease like some sacred balm pressed, seemingly decaled pressed, into their uniform white tee-shirts (no dopey vee-necks or muscle shirts need apply) and always showed, showed an oily speck anyway, on their knuckles (black-rimmed layered fingernails that never seemed to get clean no matter how much Borax was applied, an unspoken given).

To impressionable working poor boys coming up behind them and unaware of what pranks produced such efforts (having only sad sack nose-to-the grindstone fathers as alternative models) the cars were to die for, sleek tail-finned, pray to god two-toned cherry red and white if you put the finish on right (no going to some hack paint shop, no way, not for this baby, not for that ’57 Chevy), dual exhaust, big cubic engine numbers that no amateur had a clue to but just knew when sighted that thing would fly (well, almost fly) into the boulevard night, that sea air, sex-charged boulevard night. Tuned-up just right for that cheap gas to make her run, yah, that cheap City Service gas that was even cheaper than the stuff over at the Merit gas station, by two cents (neither station’s gas jockeys known to have been subject to the gunpoint whims that would have them peeing in their pants).

Or talking some boffo (that’s the word look it up if you think it is a lie -meaning with that certain something that would get a guy going if she got to sit next to him in that “boss” cherry red and white Chevy and he wouldn’t have to coax her like some bloody rosary bead novena frail with the Bible, okay the damn Bible between her knees), usually blonde (although frankly who could tell if her natural hair was really that condition or from a bottle and it did not really matter if she was boffo but subject of conversation from early on to the question of how anybody, how any guy could tell unless she, or they, took her underpants off for investigation,  and that talk created adolescent fervid dreams), although not always, maybe a cute rosy red-lipped and haired number (meaning in that neighborhood some Irish Catholic girl who had left those rosary beads and novenas far behind even if she still went to communion at Sunday morning eight o’clock Mass after a night of “playing the flute,” or being checked out for the natural color of her hair), in a pinch, a soft, sultry, svelte brunette (who loved to “play the flute” to be able to sit in the front seat of that “boss” car and a guy did not have to investigate her natural hair color since she would show and tell all sassy and sweaty), tight cashmere sweater-wearing (showing a proud nipple to a candid world whether aroused or not), all, tight Capri pant-wearing (meaning nothing more than a guy was going to have some work to do to check out what was under the underpants or she mercifully sliding them off to avoid rough handling), all, hustled out of her virtue (or maybe into her virtue) down by the seashore after some carnival-filled night (or maybe the “reserved” area of the drive-in movies meaning the place where no responsible parent would bring their young children and where nobody saw nothing but fogged up windows, cars rocking a little and hearing low moans).

A night that had been filled with arcade pinball wizardry, cotton candy, salt-water taffy, roller coaster rides, and a few trips in the tunnel of love, maybe win a prize from the wheel of fortune game too. A night capped with a few illicit drinks from some old Tom, or johnny, Johnny Walker that is, rotgut to make that talking easier, and that virtue more questionable, into or out of. All while the ocean waves slap innocently against the shore, drowning out the night’s heavy breathed, hard-voiced sighs.

Or, get this, because it tells a lot about the byways and highways of the high-style corner boy steamy black and white 1950s night, preparing, with his boys, his trusted unto death boys, his Omerta-sworn boys, no less to do some midnight creep (waylaying some poor bedraggled sap, sidewalk drunk or wrong neighborhooded gee, with a sap to the head for dough, or going through some back door, and not gently, to grab somebody’s family heirlooms or fungibles, better yet cash on hand) in order to maintain that hot car, cheap gas or not, or hot honey, virtuous or not. Yah, things cost then, as now.

And, yah, in 1958, in hard look 1958, those king hell corner boy "weres" already sucked up the noteworthy, attention-getting black and white television, black and white newsprint night air. Still the lines were long with candidates and the mom and pop variety store-anchored, soda fountain drugstore-anchored, pizza parlor-anchored, pool hall-anchored corners, such as they were, were plentiful in those pre-dawn mall days. But see that is the point, the point of those long lines of candidates in every burg in the land or, at least became the point, because in 1948, or 1938, or maybe even 1928 nobody gave a rat’s ass, or a damn, about corner boys except to shuffle them out of town on the first Greyhound bus.

Hell, in 1948 they were still in hiding from the war, whatever war it was that they wanted no part of, which might ruin their style, or their dough prospects. They were just getting into those old Nash jalopies, revving them up in the "chicken run" night out in the exotic west coast ocean night. In 1938 you did not need a Greyhound bus coming through your town to put them on board  because these guys were already on the hitchhike road, or were bindled-up in some railroad jungle, or getting cracked over the head by some “bull”, in the great depression whirlwind heading west for adventure, or hard-scrabble work. And in 1928 these hard boys were slugging it out, guns at the ready, in fast, prohibition liquor-load filled cars, and had no time for corners and silly corner pinball wizard games (although maybe they had time for running the rack at Gus’s pool hall and a quick back seat blow job between hauls, if they lived long enough).

That rarified, formerly subterranean corner boy way of life, was getting inspected, dissected, rejected, everything but neglected once the teen angst, teen alienation wave hit 1950s America. You heard some of the names, or thought you heard some of the names that counted, but they were just showboat celebrities, celebrities inhabiting Corner Boy, Inc. complete with stainless tee-shirt, neatly pressed denim jeans, maybe a smart leather jacket against the weather’s winds, unsmoked, unfiltered cigarettes at the ready, and incurably photogenic faces that every girl mother could love/hate.

Forget that. Down in the trenches, yah, down in the trenches is where the real corner boys lived, and lived without publicity most days, thank you.

Guys like Red Hickey, tee-shirted, sure, denim-jeaned, sure, leather-jacketed, sure, chain-smoking (Lucky Strikes, natch), sure, angelic-faced, sure, who waylaid a guy, put him in an ambulance waylaid, just because he was a corner boy king from another cross-town corner who Red thought was trying to move in, or something like that. Or guys like Bruce “The Goose” McNeil, ditto shirted, jeaned, jacketed, smoked (Camels), faced who sneak-thieved his way through half of the old Adamsville houses taking nothing but high-end stuff from the swells. Or No Name McGee, corner boy king of the liquor store clip. Yah, and a hundred other guys, a hundred no name guys, except maybe to the cops, and to their distressed mothers, mainly old-time Irish and Italian novena-praying Catholic mothers, praying against that publicity day, the police blotter publicity day.

But you did not, I say, you did not hear those Hickey, McNeil, No Name stories in the big town newspapers or in some university faculty room when those guys zeroed in on the corner boy game trying to explain, like it was not plain as the naked eye to see, and why, all that angst and alienation. And then tried to tell one and all that corner boy was a phase, a minute thing, that plentiful America had an edge, like every civilized world from time immemorial had, where those who could not adjust, who could not decode the new American night, the odorless American night, the pre-lapsarian American night shifted for themselves in the shadows. Not to worry though it was a phase, just a phase, and these guys too will soon be thinking about that ticky-tack little white house with the picket fence.

Yah, but see, see again, just the talk through the grapevine about such guys as Red, The Goose, No Name, the legendary jewelry store clip artist, Brother Johnson (who set himself apart because he made a point of the fact that he didn’t smoke, smoke cigarettes anyway), and a whole host of guys who made little big names for themselves on the corners was enough to get guys like Billie, and not just primo candidate Billie either, hopped-up on the corner boy game. Yah, the corner boys whose very name uttered, whose very idea of a name uttered, whose very idea of a name thought up in some think-tank academy brain-dust, and whose very existence made a splash later (after it was all over, at least the public, publicity all over, part), excited every project schoolboy, every wrong side of the tracks guy (and it was always guys, babes were just for tangle), every short-cut dreaming boy who could read the day’s newspaper or watch some distended television, or knew someone who did.

And Billie was the first. The star of the Adamsville elementary schoolboy corner boy galaxy. No first among equals, or any such combination like that either, if that is what you are thinking. Alone. Oh sure his right-hand man, Peter Paul Markin, weak-kneed, book-wormy, girl-confused but girl-addled, took a run at Billie but that was seen, except maybe by Peter Paul himself, as a joke. Something to have a warm chuckle over on dreary nights when a laugh could not be squeezed out any other way. See, Peter Paul, as usual, had it all wrong on his figuring stuff. He thought his two thousand facts knowledge about books, and history, and current events, and maybe an off-hand science thing or two entitled, get this, entitled him to the crown. Like merit, or heredity, or whatever drove him to those two thousand facts meant diddley squat against style, and will.

Billie tried to straighten him out, gently at first, with a short comment that a guy who had no denim blue jeans, had no possibility of getting denim blue jeans, and was in any case addicted to black chinos, black cuffed chinos, has no chance of leading anybody, at any time, in anything. Still Peter Paul argued some nonsense about his organizing abilities. Like being able to run a low-rent bake sale for some foolish school trip, or to refurbish the U.S.S. Constitution, counted when real dough, real heist dough, for real adventures was needed. Peter Paul simmered in high-grade pre-teen anguish for a while over that one, more than a while.

Billie and Peter Paul, friends since the first days of first grade, improbably friends on the face of it although Billie’s take on it was that Peter Paul made him laugh with that basketful of facts that he held on to like a king’s ransom, protecting them like they were gold or something, finally had it out one night. No, not a fist fight, see that was not really Billie’s way, not then anyway or at least not in this case, and Peter Paul was useless at fighting, except maybe with feisty paper bags or those blessed facts. Billie, who not only was a king corner contender but a very decent budding singer, rock and roll singer, had just recently lost some local talent show competition to a trio of girls who were doing a doo wop thing. That part was okay, the losing part, such things happen in show biz and even Billie recognized, recognized later, that those girls had be-bopped him with their cover of Eddie, My Love fair and square. Billie, who for that contest was dressed up in a Bill Haley-style jacket made by his mother for the occasion, did the classic Bill Haley and the Comets Rock- Around-The-Clock as his number. About halfway through though one of the arms of his just made suit came flying off. A few seconds later the other arm came off. And the girls, the coterie of Adamsville girls in the audience especially, went crazy. See they thought it was part of the act.

After that, at school and elsewhere, Billie was besieged daily by girls, and not just stick-shaped girls either, who hung off all his arms, if you want to know. And sensitive soul Peter Paul didn’t like that. He didn’t care about the girl part, because as has already been noted, and can be safely placed on golden tablets Peter Paul was plenty girl-confused and girl-addled but girl-smitten in his funny way. What got him in a snit was that Billie was neglecting his corner boy king duty to be on hand with his boys at all available times. Well, this one night the words flew as Billie tired, easily tired, of Peter Paul’s ravings on the subject. And here is the beauty of the thing, the thing that made Billie the king corner boy contender. No fists, no fumings, no forget friendships. Not necessary. Billie just told Peter Paul this- “You can have my cast-offs.” Meaning, of course, the extra girls that Billie didn’t want, or were sticks, or just didn’t appeal to him. “Deal,” cried Peter Paul in a flash. Yah that was corner boy magic. And you know what? After that Peter Paul became something like Johnson’s Boswell and really started building up Billie as the exemplar corner boy king. Nice work, Billie.

You know Freddie Jackson too took his shots but was strictly out of his league against the Billie. Here it was a question not of facts, or books, or some other cranky thing bought off, bought off easily, by dangling girls in front of a guy a la Peter Paul but of trying to out dance Billie. See Freddie, whatever else his shortcomings, mainly not being very bright and not being able to keep his hands out of his mother’s pocketbook when he needed dough so that he had to stay in many nights, worst many summer nights, could really dance. What Freddie didn’t know, and nobody was going to tell him, nobody, from Peter Paul on down if they wanted to hang with Billie was that Billie had some great dance moves along with that good and growing singing voice. See, Freddie never got to go to the school or church dances and only knew that Billie was an ace singer. But while Freddie was tied to the house he became addicted to American Bandstand and so through osmosis, maybe, got some pretty good moves too.

So at one after-school dance, at a time when Freddie had kept his hands out of his mother’s pocketbook long enough not to be house-bound, he made his big move challenge. He called Billie out. Not loud, not overbearing but everybody knew the score once they saw Freddie’s Eddie Cochran-style suit. The rest of the guys (except Billie, now wearing jeans and tee-shirt when not on stage in local talent contests where such attire got you nowhere) were in chinos (Peter Paul in black-cuffed chinos, as usual) and white shirts, or some combination like that, so Freddie definitely meant business. Freddie said, “If I beat you at dancing I’m running the gang, okay?” (See corner boys was what those professors and news hawks called them but every neighborhood guy, young or old, knew, knew without question, who led, and who was in, or not in, every, well, gang). Billie, always at the ready when backed up against the wall, said simply, “Deal.” Freddie came out with about five minutes of jitter buggery, Danny and the Juniors At The Hop kind of moves. He got plenty of applause and some moony-eyedness from the younger girls (the stick girls who were always moony-eyed until they were not stick girls any more).

Billie came sauntering out, tee-shirt rolled up, tight jeans staying tight and just started to do the stroll as the song of the same name, The Stroll, came on. Now the stroll is a line dance kind of thing but Billie is out there all by himself and making moves, sexual-laden moves, although not everybody watching would have known to call them that. And those moves have all the girls, sticks and shapes, kind of glassy-eyed with that look like maybe Billie needed a partner, or something and a “why not me” look. Even Freddie knew he was doomed and took his lost pretty well, although he still had that hankering for mom’s purse that kept him from being a real regular corner boy when Billie got the thing seriously organized.

Funny thing, Lefty Wright, who actually was on the dance floor the night of the Freddie-Billie dance-off, pushed Billie with the Freddie challenge. And Freddie was twenty times a better dancer than Lefty. Needless to say, join the ranks, Lefty. Canny Danny O’Toole (Cool Donna O’Toole’s, a stick flame of Billie’s, early Billie, brother) was a more serious matter but after a couple of actions (actions best left unspecified) he fell in line. Billie, kind of wiry, kind of quick-fisted as it turned out, and not a guy quick to take offense knew, like a lot of wiry guys, how to handle himself without lots of advertising of that fact. He was going to need that fist-skill when the most serious, more serious than the Canny Danny situation came up. And it did with Badass Bobby Riley, Badass was a known quality, but he was a year older than the others and everybody knew was a certified psychopath who eventually drifted out of sight. Although not before swearing his fealty to Billie. After taking a Billie, a wiry Billie, beating the details of which also need no going into now. And there were probably others who stepped up for a minute, or who didn’t stay long enough to test their metal. Loosey Goosey Hughes, Butternut Walsh, Jimmy Riley (no relation to Badass), Five Fingers Kelly, Kenny Ricco, Billy Bruno, and on and on.

But such was the way of Billie’s existence. He drew a fair share of breaks, for a project kid, got some notice for his singing although not enough to satisfy his huge hunger, his way out, he way out of the projects, projects that had his name written all over them(and the rest of his boys too). And then he didn’t draw some breaks after a while, got known as a hard boy, a hard corner boy when corner boy was going out of style and also his bluesy rockabilly singing style was getting crushed by clean-cut, no hassle, no hell-raising boy boys. And then he started drawing to an outside straight, first a couple of frame-up show trial juvenile clip busts, amid the dreaded publicity, the Roman Catholic mother novena dread publicity, police blottered. Then a couple of house break-ins, taking fall guy lumps for a couple of older, harder corner boys who could make him a fall guy then, as he would others when his turn came. All that was later, a couple of years later. But no question in 1958, especially the summer of 1958 when such things took on a decisive quality, Billie, and for one last time, that’s William James Bradley, in case anyone reading needs the name in order to look it up for the historical record was Billie's time. Yah, 1958, Billie, ah, William James Bradley, and corner boy king.

Funny, as you know, or you should know, corner boys usually gain their fleeting fame from actually hanging around corners, corner mom and pop variety stores, corner pizza parlors, corner pool halls, corner bowling alleys, corner pinball wizard arcades, becoming fixtures at said corners and maybe passing on to old age and social security check collection at said corner. Or maybe not passing to old age but to memory, memory kid’s memory. But feature this, in Billie’s great domain, his great be-bop night kingship, and in his various defenses of his realm against smart guys and stups alike, he never saw so much as a corner corner to rest his laurels on. And not because he did not know that proper etiquette in such matters required some formal corner to hang at but for the sheer, unadulterated fact that no such corner existed in his old-fashioned housing project (now old-fashioned anyway because they make such places differently today), his home base.

See, the guys who made the projects “forgot” that, down and out or not, people need at least a mom and pop variety store to shop at, or nowadays maybe a strip mall, just like everybody else. But none was ever brought into the place and so the closest corner, mom and pop corner anyway, was a couple of miles away up the road. But that place was held by a crowd of older corner boys whose leader, from what was said, would have had Billie for lunch (and did in the end).

But see here is where a guy like Billie got his corner boy franchise anyway. In a place where there are no corners to be king of the corner boy night there needs to be a certain ingenuity and that is where “His Honor” held forth. Why not the back of the old schoolhouse? Well, not so old really because in that mad post-World War II boom night (no pun intended), schools, particularly convenient elementary schools even for projects kids were outracing the boomers. So the school itself was not old but the height of 1950s high-style, functional public building brick and glass. Boxed, of course, building-boxed, classroom-boxed, gym-boxed, library-ditto boxed. No cafeteria-boxed, none necessary reflecting, oddly, walk to school, walk home for lunch, stay-at-home mom childhood culture even in public assistance housing world. And this for women who could have, if they could have stood the gaff from neighbor wives, family wives, society wives screamed to high heaven for work, money work. That was Billie world too, Billie day world. Billie September to June world.

But come dusk, summer dusk best of all, Billie ruled the back end of the school, the quiet unobserved end of the school, the part near the old sailors’ graveyard, placed there to handle the tired old sailors who had finished up residing at the nearby but then no longer used Old Sailors’ Rest Home built for those who roamed the seven seas, the inlet bays, and whatever other water allowed you to hang in the ancient sailors’ world. There Billie held forth, Peter Paul almost always at hand, seeking, always seeking refuge from his hellfire home thrashings. Canny Danny, regularly, same with Lefty and Freddie (when not grounded), and Bobby while he was around. And other guys, other unnamed, maybe unnamable guys who spent a minute in the Billie night. Doing? Yah, just doing some low murmur talking, most nights, mostly some listening to Billie dreams, Billie plans, Billie escape route. All sounding probable, all wistful once you heard about it later. All very easy, all very respectful, in back of that old school unless some old nag of a neighbor, fearful that the low murmur spoke of unknown, unknowable conspiracies against person, against the day, hell, even against the night. Then the cops were summoned. But mainly not.

And then as dusk turned to dark and maybe a moon, an earth moon (who knew then, without telescope, maybe a man-made moon), that soft talk, that soft night talk, turned to a low song throat sound as Billie revved up his voice to some tune his maddened brain caught on his transistor radio (bought fair and square up at the Radio Shack so don’t get all huffy about it). Say maybe Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers Why Do Fools Fall In Love? and then the other ragamuffins would do harmony. Yah, that was twelve, maybe thirteen year old night, most nights, the nights of no rough stuff, the nights of dreams, maybe. But like some ancient siren call that sound penetrated to the depths of the projects and soon a couple of girls, yes, girls, twelve and thirteen year old girls, what do you expect, stick girls and starting shape girls, would hover nearby, maybe fifty yards away but the electricity was in the air, and those hardly made out forms drove Billie and his choir corner boys on. Maybe Elvis’ One Night as a come on. Then a couple more girls, yes, twelve and thirteen year old girls, have you been paying attention, sticks and starting shapes, join those others quietly swaying to the tempo. A few more songs, a few more girls, girls coming closer. Break time. Girl meets boy. Boy meets girl. Hell, even Peter Paul got lucky this night with one of Billie’s stick rejects. And as that moon turned its shades out and the air was fragrance with nature’s marshlands sea air smells and girls’ fresh soap smells and boys’ anxiety smells the Billie corner boy wannabe world seemed not so bad. Yah, 1958 was Billie’s year. Got it.


*****Damn It- Free Leonard Peltier Now-He Must Not Die In Jail!

*****Damn It- Free Leonard Peltier Now-He Must Not Die In Jail!

Leonard Peltier in 1972

Workers Vanguard No. 1082
29 January 2016
40 Years Behind Bars
Free Leonard Peltier Now!
(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)
Leonard Peltier is one of the most prominent political prisoners in America. Peltier’s imprisonment for his activism in the American Indian Movement (AIM) symbolizes this country’s racist repression of indigenous people, the survivors of centuries of genocide. February 6 marks 40 years since Peltier was arrested on frame-up charges of killing two FBI agents. This began his long ordeal of incarceration. Peltier’s innocence has always demanded his freedom, but a new health crisis makes it more urgent than ever that he be released now to get quality medical attention for a life-threatening abdominal aortic aneurysm.
In the early 1970s, the government turned its sights on AIM, which was combating the grinding poverty of Native Americans and the continued theft of their lands. The Feds and the energy companies were intent on grabbing the rich uranium deposits under land of the Oglala Lakota people in western South Dakota. The Pine Ridge Reservation became a war zone as the hated Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the FBI trained and armed thugs to terrorize and brutalize AIM activists. Between 1973 and 1976, these killers carried out more than 300 attacks, murdering at least 69 people.
When 250 FBI and BIA agents, SWAT cops and vigilantes launched an assault against Pine Ridge in June 1975 and the FBI came up two agents short, Peltier and three others were charged with their deaths. Peltier sought refuge in Canada, but was caught and held in solitary confinement for ten months. Charges were dropped against one of the others, while AIM supporters Dino Butler and Bob Robideau were acquitted. Jurors at the trial in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, stated that they did not believe the government witnesses and that it seemed “pretty much a clear-cut case of self-defense.”
The government went into overdrive to make sure Peltier would be convicted. Perjured affidavits secured his extradition to the U.S. The trial was moved to Fargo, North Dakota, a town where racism against Native Americans was prevalent, and held before an all-white jury. To preclude another acquittal on grounds of self-defense, the judge excluded evidence of government terror against Pine Ridge activists. Defense witnesses were barred from testifying, and the prosecution concealed ballistics tests showing that Peltier’s gun could not have been used in the shooting. In 1977, Peltier was found guilty and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.
The intent of the racist capitalist rulers to see this innocent man die in prison has been clear from the start. Peltier’s legal rights have consistently been trampled: calls for a new trial; requests for documents under the Freedom of Information Act; applications for parole; demands for medical treatment—all denied time and again. In a 1985 appeal hearing, the lead government attorney admitted: “We can’t prove who shot those agents.” A 2003 ruling from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals stated: “Much of the government’s behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned.” But the appeals were denied anyway. There is no justice in the bourgeoisie’s courts for fighters against racist and capitalist injustice like Leonard Peltier.
The Feds’ vendetta against Peltier and other AIM leaders was part of the FBI’s notorious Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) of surveillance, disruption, frame-up and murder. Launched in the 1950s, COINTELPRO initially targeted the Communist Party and the then-Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party. It was later deployed against other left organizations, antiwar activists and especially against radical black activists in the 1960s. The Black Panther Party bore the brunt of the Feds’ attacks: members were framed up and imprisoned by the hundreds while 38 were killed in cold blood.
AIM was formed in 1968 to fight police harassment in Minneapolis and quickly caught the FBI’s eye. AIM forged ties with Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton who, along with Mark Clark, was gunned down in his apartment by the Chicago cops on 4 December 1969. That same year, AIM started its 19-month occupation of Alcatraz Island to demand the return of stolen Native land.
Like Peltier, many former Panthers still languish in prison, among them Mumia Abu-Jamal and Albert Woodfox. The Partisan Defense Committee publicizes their cases and provides support to them and eleven others through our Class-War Prisoner stipend program. Funds for this program are raised during the PDC’s annual Holiday Appeal. While supporting all possible legal proceedings on behalf of the class-war prisoners, we place no faith whatever in the courts, which are part of the apparatus used by the capitalist class to maintain its rule. We look to the social power of the multiracial labor movement to lead the poor and oppressed in struggle against the capitalist exploiters and their system of private property.
The vindictiveness of the Feds toward this unbowed fighter for Native Americans, who is also a gifted writer and artist, knows no bounds. In his four decades behind bars, Peltier has been subjected to supermax hell, punitive prison moves, long stretches in solitary and brutal beatings. Denied transfer to North Dakota to be near his people, he is incarcerated nearly 2,000 miles away in Florida. Peltier has diabetes and high blood pressure, has suffered a stroke and a heart attack, and he is partially blind in one eye. Twenty years ago he underwent surgery in prison to fix a defect in his jaw that had prevented him from eating solid food. The operation was so botched that he almost died and needed six blood transfusions. To avert public awareness of Peltier and the injustice inflicted on him, an association of former FBI agents forced the removal of four of his paintings from a Native art installation in Washington State last November.
In a November 26 statement to his supporters, Peltier spoke of the pain and neglect he was suffering even before his latest diagnosis:
“I wish I could lie to you and tell you I’m doing O.K., but that would not be fair to you.... I cannot walk but very slowly and while hanging on to someone for support. But after a few steps I’m O.K. So I move right along with the crowd. But those first few steps are awfully painful. I asked for a cushion, but was told they don’t have any here—and to make one myself from a blanket. Well, news flash. I did this and every time I did they took it away. Yep, for some reason this is illegal. Then I have to deal with the other medical problems. So, yeah, this is my Sundance.”
The PDC has written to President Obama to demand Peltier’s urgent release. Peltier’s defense committee urges supporters to mention Leonard’s current health crisis when calling the White House to voice support for clemency now, and to also demand that he receive the best possible care by contacting: Federal Bureau of Prisons, 320 First St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20534, (202) 307-3198, We urge our readers to do likewise.

You can also write to Leonard Peltier, #89637-132, USP Coleman I, P.O. Box 1033, Coleman, FL 33521.

I am passing this along which was passed to me so check it out. (November 2015) 

Anonymous7:57 PM
The correct contact information for Peltier's defense committee (and ACCURATE information regarding Leonard Peltier, his case, and the campaign for freedom) is ILPDC, PO Box 24, Hillsboro, OR 97123. Web:

Click to a Leonard Peltier Defense Committee site. 

Leonard Peltier is an internationally renowned class-war prisoner. Peltier’s incarceration for his activism in the American Indian Movement has come to symbolize this country’s racist repression of its native peoples, the survivors of centuries of genocidal oppression. Peltier was framed up for the 1975 deaths of two FBI agents marauding in what had become a war zone on the South Dakota Pine Ridge Reservation. Although the lead government attorney has admitted, “We can’t prove who shot those agents,” and the courts have acknowledged blatant prosecutorial misconduct, the 69-year-old Peltier is not scheduled to be reconsidered for parole for another eleven years! Peltier suffers from multiple serious medical conditions and is incarcerated far from his people and family.


This entry is passed on from the Partisan Defense Committee. I need add little except to say that this man, a natural leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), should never have spent a day in jail. Free him now.

"We, along with millions of others, do not believe that Leonard Peltier should have been incarcerated at all. We demand his unconditional release from prison."

Leonard Peltier was arrested in Canada on February 6, 1976, along with Frank Blackhorse, a.k.a. Frank Deluca. The United States presented the Canadian court with affidavits signed by Myrtle Poor Bear who said she was Mr. Peltier’s girlfriend and allegedly saw him shoot the agents. In fact, Ms. Poor Bear had never met Mr. Peltier and was not present during the shoot-out. Soon after, Ms. Poor Bear recanted her statements and said the FBI threatened her and coerced her into signing the affidavits.

  • Mr. Peltier was extradited to the United States where he was tried in 1977. The trial was held in North Dakota before United States District Judge Paul Benson, a conservative jurist appointed to the federal bench by Richard M. Nixon. Key witnesses like Myrtle Poor Bear were not allowed to testify and unlike the Robideau/Butler trial in Iowa, evidence regarding violence on Pine Ridge was severely restricted.
  • An FBI agent who had previously testified that the agents followed a pick-up truck onto the scene, a vehicle that could not be tied to Mr. Peltier, changed his account, stating that the agents had followed a red and white van onto the scene, a vehicle which Mr. Peltier drove occasionally.
  • Three teenaged Native witnesses testified against Mr. Peltier, they all later admitted that the FBI forced them to testify. Still, not one witness identified Mr. Peltier as the shooter.
  • The U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case claimed that the government had provided the defense with all FBI documents concerning the case. To the contrary, more than 140,000 pages had been withheld in their entirety.
  • An FBI ballistics expert testified that a casing found near the agents’ bodies matched the gun tied to Mr. Peltier. However, a ballistic test proving that the casing did not come from the gun tied to Mr. Peltier was intentionally concealed.
  • The jury, unaware of the aforementioned facts, found Mr. Peltier guilty. Judge Benson, in turn, sentenced Mr. Peltier to two consecutive life terms.
  • Following the discovery of new evidence obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, Mr. Peltier sought a new trial. The Eighth Circuit ruled, “There is a possibility that the jury would have acquitted Leonard Peltier had the records and data improperly withheld from the defense been available to him in order to better exploit and reinforce the inconsistencies casting strong doubts upon the government's case." Yet, the court denied Mr. Peltier a new trial.
  • During oral argument, the government attorney conceded that the government does not know who shot the agents, stating that Mr. Peltier is equally guilty whether he shot the agents at point-blank range, or participated in the shoot-out from a distance. Mr. Peltier’s co-defendants participated in the shoot-out from a distance, but were acquitted.
  • Judge Heaney, who authored the decision denying a new trial, has since voiced firm support for Mr. Peltier’s release, stating that the FBI used improper tactics to convict Mr. Peltier, the FBI was equally responsible for the shoot-out, and that Mr. Peltier's release would promote healing with Native Americans.
  • Mr. Peltier has served over 29 years in prison and is long overdue for parole. He has received several human rights awards for his good deeds from behind bars which include annual gift drives for the children of Pine Ridge, fund raisers for battered women’s shelters, and donations of his paintings to Native American recovery programs.
  • Mr. Peltier suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, and a heart condition. Time for justice is short.
  • Currently, Mr. Peltier’s attorneys have filed a new round of Freedom of Information Act requests with FBI Headquarters and all FBI field offices in an attempt to secure the release of all files relating to Mr. Peltier and the RESMURS investigation. To date, the FBI has engaged in a number of dilatory tactics in order to avoid the processing of these requests.



Thirty years ago, on 6 February 1976, American Indian Movement (AIM) leader Leonard Peltier was seized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in western Canada. Peltier had fled there after a massive U.S. government attack the previous June—by FBI and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agents, SWAT cops and white vigilantes—on South Dakota's Pine Ridge reservation during which two FBI agents were killed. After Canadian authorities held Peltier for ten months in solitary confinement in Oakalla Prison, he was extradited to the U.S. on the basis of fabricated FBI testimony. In 1977, Peltier, a member of the Anishinabe and Lakota Nations, was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences on frame-up murder charges stemming from the shooting of the two FBI agents.

While Peltier had sought refuge in Canada, two others charged in the agents' killings were acquitted in a federal court in Iowa. Jurors stated that they did not believe the government witnesses and that it seemed "pretty much a clear-cut case of self-defense" against the FBI invasion. In Peltier's trial the prosecution concealed ballistics tests showing that his gun could not have been used in the shooting, while the trial judge ruled out any chance of another acquittal on self-defense grounds by barring any evidence of government terror against the Pine Ridge activists. At a 1985 appeal hearing, a government attorney admitted, "We can't prove who shot those agents."

AIM had been in the Feds' gun sights because of its efforts to fight the enforced poverty of Native Americans and the continued theft of their lands by the government and energy companies, which were intent on grabbing rich uranium deposits under Sioux land in South Dakota. The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee stated in 2004: "Virtually every known AIM leader in the United States was incarcerated in either state or federal prisons since (or even before) the organization's formal emergence in 1968, some repeatedly." Between 1973 and 1976, thugs of the Guardians of the Oglala Nation (GOON), armed and trained by the hated BIA and FBI, carried out more than 300 attacks in and around Pine Ridge, killing at least 69 people.
As we wrote during the fight against Peltier's threatened deportation, "The U.S. case against Peltier is political persecution, part of a broader attempt by the FBI to smash AIM through piling up criminal charges against its leaders, just as was done against the Black Panthers" (PTFNo. 112, 4 June 1976). AIM and Peltier were targeted by the FBI's deadly Counter-intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) of disruption, frame-up and murder of the left, black militants and others. Under COINTELPRO, 38 Black Panthers were killed by the FBI and local cops. Panther leader Geronimo ji Jaga (Pratt) spent 27 years in prison for a crime the FBI knew he could not have committed before finally winning release in 1997. Mumia Abu-Jamal—also an innocent man— remains on Pennsylvania's death row today.

In November 2003, a federal appeals court ruled, "Much of the government's behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed." But the court still refused to open the prison doors for Peltier. Last year, U.S. District Court judge William Skretny turned down Peltier's request for documents suppressed by the government, even while acknowledging that he could have been acquitted had the government not improperly withheld them. Peltier attorney Michael Kuzma stated that the evidence withheld by the government amounts to a staggering 142,579 pages!

On February 24, Skretny again ruled that the FBI can keep part of its records secret in the name of "national security." Peltier noted in a message to the March 18 protests against the Iraq occupation, "Our government uses the words 'national security' and fighting the war on transnational terrorism as a smoke screen to cover up further crimes and misconduct by the FBI." Also this February, defense attorney Barry Bachrach argued in St. Louis federal court that the federal government had no jurisdiction in Peltier's case, since the shootings occurred on a reservation.

Millions of people have signed petitions for Peltier over the years, including by 1986 some 17 million people in the former Soviet Union. His frame-up, like that of Geronimo ji Jaga and Mumia Abu-Jamal, demonstrates that there is no justice in the capitalist courts of America. While supporting all possible legal proceedings on behalf of the class-war prisoners, we place no faith whatever in the "justice" of the courts and rely solely on the power of mass protest centered on the integrated labor movement.

After Peltier's third appeal for a new trial was denied in 1993, thousands of prominent liberals, celebrities and others—ranging from Willie Nelson to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mother Teresa—called for a presidential pardon. In a recent column titled "Free Leonard Peltier!" (5 February), Mumia Abu-Jamal wrote: "Many Peltier supporters put their trust in a politician named Bill Clinton, who told them that when he got elected he 'wouldn't forget' about the popular Native American leader. Their trust (like that of so many others) was betrayed once Clinton gained his office, and the FBI protested. In the waning days of his presidency, he issued pardons to folks like Marc Rich, and other wealthy campaign contributors. Leonard Peltier was left in his chains!"

Peltier is one of 16 class-war prisoners to whom the Partisan Defense Committee sends monthly stipends. For more information on his case, or to contribute to Peltier's legal defense, write to: Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, 2626 North Mesa #132, El Paso, TX 79902. Free Leonard Peltier and all class-war prisoners!

*****From Veterans For Peace In Massachusetts-Stop The Damn Endless Wars-Revelations

*****From Veterans For Peace In Massachusetts-Stop The Damn Endless Wars-Revelations

What VFP Stands For - 


Revelations-From The Sam Eaton-Ralph Morris Series

From The Pen Of Bart Webber

Ralph Morris had always considered himself a straight-up guy. Straight up when he dealt with customers in his high-precision electrical shop in Troy, New York inherited from his father after he retired before he himself recently retired and turned it over to his youngest son, James, who would bring the operation into the 21st century with the high tech equipment precision electrical work needs nowadays. Straight up when he confronted the trials and tribulations of parenthood and told the kids that due to his political obligations (of which more in a minute) he would be away and perhaps seem somewhat pre-occupied at times he would answer any questions they had about anything as best he could (and the kids in turn when characterizing their father to me, told me that he was hard-working, distant but had been straight up with them although those sentiments said in a wistful, wondering, wishing more manner like there was something missing in the whole exchange and Ralph agreed when I mentioned that feeling to him that I was probably right but that he did the best he could). Straight up after sowing his wild oats along with Sam Eaton, Pete Markin, Frankie Riley and a bunch of other guys from the working class corners who dived into that 1960s counter-cultural moment and hit the roads, for a short time after the stress of eighteen months in the bush in Vietnam. Meaning sleeping with any young woman who would have him in those care-free days when we were all experimenting with new ways to deal with that fretting sexual issue and getting only slightly less confused that when we got all that god-awful and usually wrong information in the streets where most of us, for good or evil learned to separate our Ps and Qs. After which he promised his high school sweetheart, Lara Peters, who had waited for him to settle down to be her forever man. And straight up with what concerns us here his attitude toward his military service in the Army during the height of the Vietnam War where he did his time, did not cause waves while in the service but raised, and is still raising seven kinds of holy hell, once he became totally disillusioned with the war, with the military brass and with the American government (no “our government” his way of saying it not mine) who did nothing but make thoughtless animals out of him and his buddies.             

Giving this “straight up” character business is important here because Ralph several years ago along with Sam Eaton, a non-Vietnam veteran having been exempted from military duty due to being the sole support of his mother and four younger sisters after his ne’er-do-well father died of a massive heart attack in 1965, joined a peace organization, Veterans For Peace (VFP), in order to work with others doing the same kind of work (Ralph as a  full member, Sam an associate member in the way membership works in that organization although both have full right to participate and discuss the aims and projects going forward) once they decided to push hard against the endless wars of the American government (both Ralph and Sam’s way of putting the matter). Without going into great detail Sam and Ralph had met down in Washington, D.C. on May Day 1971 when they with their respective groups (Sam with a radical collective from Cambridge and Ralph with Vietnam Veterans Against the War) attempted to as the slogan went-“shut down the government if it did not shut down the war.” Unfortunately they failed but the several days they spent together in detention in RFK Stadium then being used as the main detention area cemented a life-time friendship, and a life-time commitment to work for peace. (Sam’s impetus the loss of his best corner boy high school friend, Jeff Mullins, in the Central Highlands of Vietnam in 1968 who begged him to tell everybody what was really going on with war if he did not make it back to tell them himself.)        

That brings us to the Ralph straight up part. He and Sam had worked closely with or been member of for several years in the 1970s VVAW and other organizations to promote peace. But as the decade ended and the energy of the 1960s faded and ebbed they like many others went on with their lives, build up their businesses, had their families to consider and generally prospered. Oh sure, when warm bodies were needed for this or that good old cause they were there but until the fall of 2002 their actions were helter-skelter and of an ad hoc nature. Patch work they called it. Of course the hell-broth of the senseless, futile and about six other negative descriptions of that 2003 Iraq war disaster, disaster not so much for the American government (Sam and Ralph’s now familiar term) as for the Iraqi people and others under the cross-fires of the American military juggernaut (my term). So they, having fewer family and work responsibilities were getting the old time anti-war “religion” fires stoked in their brains once again to give one more big push against the machine before they passed on. They started working with VFP in various marches, vigils, civil disobedience actions and whatever other projects the organization was about (more recently the case of getting a presidential pardon and freedom for the heroic Wiki-leaks whistle –blower soldier Chelsea Manning sentenced to a thirty-five year sentence at Fort Leavenworth for telling the truth about American atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan). Did that for a couple of years before they joined. And here is really where that straight up business comes into play. See they both had been around peace organizations enough to know that membership means certain obligation beyond paying dues and reading whatever materials an organization puts out-they did not want to be, had never been mere “paper members” So after that couple of years of working with VFP in about 2008 they joined up, joined up and have been active members ever since.        

Now that would be neither here nor there but Ralph had recently been thinking about stepping up his commitment even further by running for the Executive Committee of his local Mohawk Valley  chapter, the Kenny Johnson Chapter. (Sam as an associate member of his local chapter, the James Jencks Brigade is precluded as a non-veterans from holding such offices the only distinction between the two types of membership.) He ran and won a seat on the committee. But straight up again since he was committed to helping lead the organization locally and perhaps take another step up at some point he decided this year to go to the National Convention in San Diego (the geographic location of that site a definitive draw) and learn more about the overall workings of the organization and those most dedicated to its success.

So Ralph went and immersed himself in the details of what is going on with the organization. More importantly he got to hear the details of how guys (and it is mostly guys reflecting the origins of the organization in 1985 a time when women were not encouraged to go into the service), mostly guys from his Vietnam War generation as the older World War II and Korea vets pass on and the Iraq and Afghan war vets are still finding their “voice” came to join the organization. What amazed him was how many of the stories centered on various objections that his fellow members had developed while in whatever branch of the military they were in. See Ralph had kept his “nose clean” despite his growing disenchantment with the war while serving his eighteen months in country. He had been by no means a gung-ho soldier although he had imbibed all the social and political attitudes of his working class background that he had been exposed to concerning doing service, fighting evil commies and crushing anything that got in the way of the American government. He certainly was not a model soldier either but he went along, got along by getting along. These other guys didn’t.

One story stood out not because it was all that unusual in the organization but because Ralph had never run up against anything like it during his time of service from 1967-1970. Not in basic training AIT, not in Vietnam although he had heard stuff about disaffected soldiers toward the end of his enlistment. This guy, Frank Jefferson, he had met at one of the workshops on military resisters had told Ralph when he asked that he had served a year in an Army stockade for refusing to wear the uniform, refusing to do Army work of any kind. At least voluntarily. The rough details of Frank’s story went like this. He had been drafted in late 1968 and was inducted into the Army in early 1969 having had no particular reason not to go in since while he was vaguely anti-war like most college students he was not a conscientious objector (and still doesn’t since he believes wars of national liberation and the like are just and supportable, especially those who are facing down the barrel of American imperialism, was not interested in going to jail like some guys, some draft resisters, from his generation who refused to be inducted an did not even think about the option of Canada or some such exile. Moreover the ethos of his town, his family, his whole social circle was not one that would have welcomed resistance, would not have been understood as a sincere if different way of looking at the world. Add to that two guys had been killed in Vietnam from his neighborhood and the social pressure to conform was too great to buck even if he had had stronger convictions then. 

Three days, maybe less after Frank was deposited at Fort Jackson in South Carolina in January, 1969 for basic training he knew he had made a great mistake, had had stronger anti-war feelings, maybe better anti-military feelings than he suspected and was heading for a fall. This was a period when draftees, those fewer and fewer men who were allowing themselves to be drafted, were being channeled toward the infantry, the “grunts,” the cannon-fodder (words he learned later but not known as he came in) and that was his fate. He was trained as an 11 Bravo, killer soldier. Eventually he got orders to report to Fort Lewis in Washington for transport to Vietnam. On a short leave before he was requested to report Frank went back to Cambridge where he grew up and checked in with the Quakers which somebody had told him to do if he was going to challenge his fate in any way. The counsellor there advised him to put in a CO application at Fort Devens nearby. He did so, was turned down because as a Catholic objector he did not qualify under the doctrine of that church. (And he still held to his “just war” position mentioned above). He tried to appeal that decision through military then civilian channels with help from a lawyer provided by the Quakers (really their American Friends Service Committee) although that was dicey at best. Then, despite some counsel against such actions Frank had an epiphany, a day of reckoning, a day when he decided that enough was enough and showed up at parade field for the Monday morning report in civilian clothes carrying a “Bring The Troops Home” sign. Pandemonium ensued, he was man-handled by two beefy lifer-sergeants and was thrown in the stockade. Eventually he was tried and sentenced to six month under a special court-martial for disobeying orders which he served. He got out after during that stretch and continued to refuse to wear the uniform or do work. So back to the stockade and re-trial getting another six months, again for disobeying lawful orders. Fortunately that civilian lawyer had brought the CO denial case to the Federal Court in Boston on a writ of habeas corpus and the judge ruled that the Army had acted wrongly in denying the application. A few weeks later he was released. Frank said otherwise he still might forty plus years later be doing yet another six month sentence. So that was his story and there were probably others like that during that turbulent time when the Army was near mutiny.

Ralph said to himself after hearing the Jefferson story, yeah, these are the brethren I can work with, guys like Jefferson really won’t fold under pressure. Yeah, that’s right.