Michael K. Ferber, a second-year Harvard graduate student, and four other men--including Dr. Benjamin Spock, the noted pediatrician, and William Sloan Coffin Jr., Yale University chaplain--were indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston Friday on charges of conspiring to counsel young men to violate the draft laws.
The others indicted are Mitchell Goodman '45, a New York author, and Marcus Raskin, co-director of the Institute for Policy Studies, a private research organization in Washington.
In a press conference Saturday at Boston's Arlington Street Church, Louis Kampf, associate national director of Resist, said that the organization is considering calling for a nation-wide academic strike when the case comes to trial. Resist is a national organization of 2000 adults supporting young men who resist the draft.
In Washington, a Justice Department official said that the grand jury in Boston has not been dismissed and that the department will press for two or three more indictments, each involving several persons. If convicted, the men could receive maximum penalties of five years in prison and/$10,000 fines.
At Saturday's conference, Kampf, a professor of Humanities at M.I.T., announced that the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the first to sign a support statement declaring that he too should go to jail if the five under indictment are sentenced.
In New Haven, Yale President Kingman Brewster Jr., who has been critical of Coffin's anti-draft activities, said that the indictment warrants no change in his status in the university. Harvard officials have not contacted Ferber.
The American Civil Liberties Union has offered to defend the five, and Ferber and some of the others have accepted. Dr. Spock said he is retaining his own lawyer. Washington criminal lawyer Edward Bennett Williams is rumored to be considering taking the case for the ACLU.
Melvin Wulf, legal head of the ACLU, said the indictments mark a "major escalation in the administration's war against dissent" and that the indictments are unconstitutional.
The indictment accuses the five men of conspiring to "counsel, aid, and abet" young men to refuse service in the armed forces and to refuse to have in their possession registration certificates and and notices of classification.
According to the indictment, Coffin, Goodman, Raskin, and Dr. Spock agreed to sponsor a nation-wide draft-resistance program that would include disrupting the induction processes at various induction centers, making public appeals for young men to resist the draft and to refuse to serve in the military services, and issuing calls for registrants to turn in their draft cards.
The indictment accuses the 23-year-old Ferber of conducting and participating in the October 16 anti-draft service at Arlington Street Church. It lists as an "overt act" of the alleged conspiracy, the sermon Ferber delivered at that meeting entitled "A Time To Say No." The indictment further accuses him of having collected draft cares turned in at various demonstrations and depositing them in a "common repository" outside the Justice Department Building in Washington on October 20.
Another "overt act" of the alleged conspiracy is the distribution in New York last August by Coffin and Dr. Spock of a statement entitled "A Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority."
Ferber said yesterday that all the acts alleged in the complaint are a matter of public record. His sermon has been reprinted in several independent publications since the service. In separate statements, he, Coffin, and Dr. Spock said that they are prepared to go to prison.
Paul A. Freund, Carl M. Loeb University Professor, said yesterday that in order to convict the five, the government must prove that it was their specific intention to obstruct the operations of selective service and that this intention was carried out by direct solicitation and incitement rather than by just general public discussion.
At the Saturday press conference, Ferber said that the most appropriate response to the indictments would be the "redoubling of draft-resistance activities across the country." Kampf said that the steering committee of Resist is considering, in addition to the academic strike, a sit-in at the Justice Department in Washington and another collection of draft cards.
Howard Zinn, professor of government at Boston University and author of Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal, said that the indictment is really not aimed at the five but at the "very large numbers of American people who are fed up with the war and haven't yet voiced their opposition." "It's the government's way of saying to all these ordinary people, 'You had better shut up!'