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(Students for a Democratic Society split into several factions after last summer's chaotic convention. One of the groups, the Weathermen, pledged to "Bring the War Home." For four days, last October 8-11, the Weather men staged "Days of Rage" in Chicago.
Three CRIMSON reporters covered the ?Chicago action. The following piece won its author the Dana Reed Prise for distinguished writing in the undergraduate publications of Harvard College.)
WALKING over to Lincoln Park on Wednesday night, I stop at a liquor store, buy a bottle of beer, and ask for an opener. I know what the Weather Bureau has got planned for tonight. Earlier, at the briefing at the Michigan-Wisconsin-New England-and-New-York-State movement headquarters, they told us that after the speeches we were going to march through the city. The police would try to stop us. Police make me very uneasy. The beer fails to make me the least bit high.
At Lincoln Park the turnout for this, the first demonstration, is very small. About 300 people are gathered around a bonfire fueled by park benches. Another 200 newspapermen and spectators stand around the edges. It is very sad. They had announced 1500 would show, and were really expecting 800. It is undeniably terrible when any Left political movement turns out to have far less support than it needs, when the people you thought you had won don't care enough to show.
I sit down on the grass at the edge of the crowd not listening to the speakers, watching the fire glowing through the legs of the people around it, looking through the trees across the park to the cars going by on the expressway. I count the cars, and my friend, Kunen, keeps time. In 150 seconds, two and a half minutes, as many people whiz by on the exressway as there are Weathermen in the world.
How sad that only this few people are crazy. Where are the massed armies of insanity? 100,000 people marched on the Pentagon. Maybe it's because that was on a weekend and this is the middle of the week.
Quite suddenly a speaker is announcing, "We're going to be moving out now. Stay with your groups, and follow the leadership." The march wants to get as far south as the Drake Hotel, which is next door to where the judge of the Conspiracy 8 trial lives. There are no police in the park: they are all in the streets outside waiting to move in if the Weathermen stay past the 11 o'clock curfew.
The Weathermen break into a run across the park on signal. They are wearing white helmets, which are all you can see bobbing up and down in the night. They are screaming and chanting, and suddenly start the high-pitched shrill used by the people of Algiers during the revolution. ill-leel-lecll-lil-ill-il-eel-eeeeeeeeee.
They pass a big square park building. Stones and bricks are hurled up out of the running crowd and smash to pieces the building's 20-foot tall plate glass windows.
Now they are across the last bit of park and running into the street. There are no police around anywhere. The police have somehow been faked out. The crowd charges up Clark Street, one of the main streets of Chicago, wiping out store windows on both sides. And then a florist shop takes a stone right through its front window. Lots of flowers are knocked over.
This is when I decide to put a distinction between me and the Weathermen. Their action is really against the people. Kunen is running up the street alongside me. He says, "What are they doing hitting a florist shop?" I don't know, but I don't feel as bad about it as he does. We move out of the crowd and start running up the sidewalk.
A bottle thrown out of the crowd hits the side of a building just in front of me. A girl with long blonde hair is showered with glass but isn't cut. A boy from the crowd yells at us, "Get into the street." But it looks like everyone in the street is going to be shot and arrested pretty soon. The sirens are beginning to scream.
The crowd slows down to a fast walk every so often to allow itself to be amazed. They have taken control of the street. They have proceeded entirely unchecked by opposition. The police squad cars pull across each new intersection only to drive screeching away when the crowd gets near.
Their sound is echoing off the tall buildings around them. Their boots are thumping like a forced march. A new window goes shattering to the ground every two seconds. They begin wiping out cars.
The brighter lights of the Loop are far up Clark Street. But the crowd swings into a turn left onto Goethe Street. The kids are all staying very close together. When it turns, the crowd seems to act as one, its arms waving, its helmets bobbing, flowing into the smaller street like a river rushing through a canyon.
They hit State Street and head back down towards the Loop again. They have foxed the police. It is very hard to keep track of the crowd in the night.
Some of the girls don't have helmets on. Their hair is streaming back behind their heads as they run. They all pass some construction sites where people run over to pick new stones and bricks. No paving stones in Chicago. A guy is going past a Rolls Royce. Imagine a Rolls Royce. He plants one foot ahead of him. Stops, pivots like a shortstop bringing his arm down in a big arch. His club takes out the windshield. Someone else opens the back door, rips out the phone or something, and leaves. Middle-aged people looking out from the lobby of the hotel and standing in furs on the street are visibly upset.
Now the police are zooming in to take a stand at Division Street. The crowd charges forward to get there first before the police can set up. But the police are ready, and they move in on the running crowd as it enters the intersection. Tear gas is fired.
The Weathermen have been divided. Some made it through and they are now circling back north to join the rest of the group.
I stand half a block from the intersection. People are running full speed past me the other way. A girl stops and lights a phosherous smoke bomb. The intersection is filled with gas and smoke. Through it I can see the revolving blue and red lights of police cars. Police are pushing their captives into the wagons.
A squad car is coming up Clark Street against the flow of the retreating Weathermen. It is blocked. Its windows are smashed in seconds. The driver drops it into first and speeds through the crowd.
The crowd, on the run, winds east on the first side street to rejoin the smaller part of the group, which had been cut off. After they pass an apartment building, one of the stragglers in the group is grabbed by a bystander. They start fighting. Another Weatherman comes in to help the kid. They get the man, who is in a grey suit and is about 30 years old, down on the ground. One of the two starts kicking the man while he's down. His fur-draped mother starts screaming to let him alone. The kids back off and one is grabbed by some other men and dragged into a building, where he is beaten. A policeman drives up on his motor scooter. Someone yells to him, "A man in there has pulled a gun." A crowd is gathering. There are no other police anywhere around. The cop splits.
I leave to find where the Weathermen have gone. It isn't easy. Their line of march is only about half a block long, and they move so fast that by the time you find them they're either on top of you or gone again.
I find them going north on Astor Street back up towards Lincoln Park. They seem to have been travelling in s-type patterns, constantly changing their direction to avoid the police.
Astor Street is a very quiet street; it has trees, sports cars, and ripple front brick apartments; it is a lot like Georgetown. The Weath?rmen seem to have momentarily lost the police. They are wiping out cars and the windows of the more expensive looking places. Doormen are surprised. A dusty Volkswagen bus is left alone.
A boy and his girl driving up the street in his car are engulfed by the crowd. They stop the car and sit there as the people in helmets pour by. The back windows of the car are broken, while the two sit looking straightahead.
But the Weathermen are now going in the exact opposite direction from their objective, the judge's hotel. They hit North Avenue which is the street immediately south of Lincoln Park. They are in a very bad position.
Once more they turn east, and one block later are at the corner of North and the Lakeshore Drive expressway. They have led themselves into a corner. They must get themselves back into the city to survive. They turn north parallel to the expressway, followed now by patrol cars. They take the first right back into the city and run into an ambush a block later.
Buckshot zings into the trees over the heads of the kids.
Two or three policemen stop out front and level their pistols at the crowd. Blam, blam, blam, blam, blam. Several people go down. But they are not hit; they're ducking. It takes about half a minute for the Weathermen to realize that those were blanks. But by then they are retreating. They have no guns.
A girl is lying in the intersection. She has been shot through the leg with a real pistol bullet. A boy has been shot in his shoulder and the side of his body. The police have a lot of people they grabbed pinned up against patrol cars.
Police come charging down their middle in a V. The group is split, running up two different streets. Several more shots are fired. I am towards the back of the group when two cars of plainclothes policemen come roaring up from behind. They leap out of their cars before they have even stopped and start grabbing people.
There is an alley to my right. It is the only way out. Half a dozen of us take off down the alley as fast as we can with the cops chasing us. Police are pouring into the area behind us. I am running.
I spin my head and my glasses go flying off. I think. "there go my glasses." I can't see, but I don't even slow down. The police are a few steps behind us. Some of the girls, who aren't as fast, are being caught.
The alley becomes dark, and all I see is the light at the end of it down on North Avenue. As I run, I am dreaming. There is something I can remember, somewhere were this whole piece of terror happened to me before. I remember, yes, it happened, running away from two boys who tried to hold me up with a razor blade one night in Harlem. I'm not aware of my legs lifting or my arms pumping or any part of running. I can't see. I am floating through a blur.
As I'm coming to the end of the alley all I can see is the flashing blue lights of police cars in front of me. All I can hear is the high tweet of police whistles being blown all around me. The police are coming at us from the other end of the alley, too.
Then, as we approach them, there comes an empty lot on our left. There is a wire fence as high as my chest. I, and one or two other kids, put our hands on it, and throw ourselves over.
Now I am running across the lot, stepping on things I can't see, surrounded again by police whistles and flashing blue lights moving parallel to us in the street.
I get to the other side and take a flying leap over the same fence. A police car turns down the street right in front of me. I put one hand on the trunk and twist around it, taking off down North Avenue, right next to the park, again.
The police are moving back in the other direction now to seal off the area I just got out of. They are all behind me. They can't leave their posts.
I stop running in a couple of blocks, and quickly take off my black leather jacket and wipe the sweat off my face and make like a pedestrian. I can't see anything and stop some people on the street to ask what street I'm on and which way to the nearest telephone. They point west.
I find a gas station, its phone, and a dime. It's an open phone, right out on the street. I dial the long-distance operator and call the CRIMSON to file my news. I get David Hollander in the newsroom. "David." I say, "everything's gone wild here..."
I STAND on North Avenue for half an hour phoning in my stuff to Cambridge. Police cars are pouring by me into the area I just left. A detachment of helmeted tactical cops walk by in step with one another. They pass so close I could trip them.
Three long-haired guys from the kids medical unit come up. They buy some Sprites in the gas station, and tell me about the two people who were shot at the first interception. They call the medical telephone number, where they report that five have been shot.
More kids come by and stop. Some of them have been running with the Weathermen and got cut off. But none of them have helmets or weapons. They tell us that the main group got away from the first ambush, but was hit again on the Lakeshore Drive expressway as they were trying to work their way up to the judge's place. They said that some cops came out of an alley shooting, and that several kids went down. Stories become confused, but it is clear that most of the Weathermen have made it back across town and are now on the other side of us.
Police cars and paddy wagons are now streaming back down North Avenue in the other direction. I tell the people around me that we better break up or else we'll all be busted. Then the first two people I saw in the movement center that afternoon show up. They are from Vermont, but I don't remember their names. One is a guy with lots of curly black hair and a red lumberjack jacket. And the other is a girl with strange glasses (round) and a brown leather jacket. They agree to help me find my glasses.
They say the area over by Lakeshore Drive has been cleared out by now, but we keep walking by aggregations of policemen on the sidewalk. Each time I see a blurred figure moving our way, I whisper, "Is that a cop?" They say no, and I am relieved.
We turn down the alley where I'd been trapped. A little ways down it, seven Chicago cops come walking out of the shadows at us. "Here're three of them," one says to the others. "OK you three, turn around and put your hands up against the wall."
"Oh no," says the chick with a very acidic voice, "you've got to be kidding. We aren't doing anything. Leave us alone." I can't figure out what she's trying to do except that she isn't going to take any shit from the Chicago cops.
They spin us around, throw us up against the wall, and start frisking us. The chick and the guy keep making these little acidic comments, "Yeah, that's my handbag: you want to look into it?" And, "You want me to take down my pants?"
The cops then make the kid take down his pants. While pretending to continue his search, one cop yanks the guy's testicles a couple of times. The kid screams out in pain, and then they let him put his pants back up.
Next they find this little leather sack he was carrying with his hash pipe in it. A cop brings it out saying. "Lookee here; he's got his little hashish pipe." They take it apart, fiddle with it, toot it, while he says things like, "Yeah, of course, that's my hash pipe; never travel without it." The cops stuff it back in his hand, and move over to me.
They grab an index card out of my pocket. It has the emergency medical and legal telephone numbers on it, which leads them to believe that I'm one of "them." I tell them that I'm just covering the demonstrations for a college newspaper. I can't see any of their faces. So it's very hard to keep in mind that they are there.
A cop leans into-my face and asks me what the notes on the back of the card are. He's a Puerto Rican, I can see at that range. I am surprised. I move the card closer so I can read it, but try not to let them know I've lost my glasses in the running. I explain it, and they tell us to get moving. We do. Up to North Avenue again, around the corner, where the other guy takes out his hash pipe, tells us it really is a hash pipe and has hash in it, and drops it into the nearest shrub.
We go down the next side street to the scene of the first ambush, and into the alley where I lost my glasses. We go a little ways down and then find them on the way back.
I can see. Blurs straighten into streets, buildings, trees, streetlights, and smashed cars.
We pass a lot of them.
A man who runs a small wooden newsstand next to several stores whose windows are broken is talking with shocked pedestrians. They ask him if he doesn't think the kids are crazy. He says, "They didn't touch me, they only got those capitalists up the street."
We walk back through the area to Clark Street, and down that to North, where there are now a million cops. We head west towards? Wells Street to get a train somewhere and leave this entire scene. The third large group of cops we pass tells us to stop and get up against the wall.
They search us. Ask us what we're doing. We say we're leaving. They ask us where we live. We say Boston. One cop is talking to each of us. I'm telling my cop that I've been observing the demonstrations for a college paper, when the one searching the other boy finds a penife that goes with his hash pipe. My cop tells me to get out of there right away as they arrest the other kid and the chick for carrying a concealed weapon.
I stop half way to the next corner and watch them load the two kids into a paddy wagon. The cops don't hit them or anything. And as the wagon drives off. I turn back up North, and run into Scott Jacobs, the other CRIMSON reporter, at the corner of Wells. He and I run into Parker Donham of the Globe, who is phoning in to Boston. And Parker drives us out of there.
I took a CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) train up to the movement center, where I'm staying. I am amazed to find that most people made it back OK. They say they only knew of about six or eight who got captured, and I'm the 53rd to return. I tell them about the two who were with me and got busted, but I can't remember their names. I don't think they ever told me. The legal service will take care of them.
The Weathermen leadership for this regional center is discussing how to organize things from now on while most people are crashing in the main room, which is a windowless volleyball court of the theological seminary where we're staying. To get in this room I pass a security check, which OK's my Weatherman ID card and frisks me for weapons I might be carrying. I go to sleep at 2:00.
At 4:00 one of the girls from the leadership comes in and throws on the lights all over the room, and yells, "Everybody up and do thirty jumping-jacks. We're going to have a meeting."
I roll over in agony and drool into the wall, "I could just yomit." Most people get up and are ready to jump, when it is decided to put the whole thing off until the morning because it's important for us to rest.
MORNING comes at 6:30 when the lights are turned on again, this time for good, People get up from where they've been sleeping, and collapse on the floor in a rough circle around the leadership. I pull on my pants and shiver, leaning against the wall with my blankets wrapped around my legs.
Girls make up much of the leadership in our center. And one of them is giving up an initial analysis of the last night's events. She wants to point out what went wrong, but tells us there were a lot of good things about it, too.
"There was a lot of smashing windows and hitting rich people's property and doing a lot of out-a-sight stuff. But," she says, "a lot of our people got ripped off, too. And that isn't good."
People make the criticism that we should have fought the police more. They say that people would fight back when they were attacked, but that often groups would change their direction to avoid only four or five policemen when we could have overwhelmed them instead.
There is a lot of talk about what methods the police used-when they fired guns, what they were shooting, how they moved in the plainclothes cops, and the way they had a hard time responding to the mobile tactics.
Someone criticizes the fact that hardly anyone knew where the announced goal of the march, the judge's place, was. People were unfamiliar with the city, he said, and they wound up heading away from it because the objective wasn't announced till the end of the speeches.
Someone stresses the importance of sticking with your affinity group. It is pointed out that those people who got ripped off by the pigs were mostly people who weren't with their group. Someone presents the problem that, when he would stop to pick up some rocks and wipe out some windows, he would get split from his group because they would keep moving. He is answered that it is more important that he stick with his group so they can fight as a unit.
We talk about whether wiping out all the parked cars is an action against the people. It is generally understood that the area we attacked is where the oppressing class lives, and that people who associate with this existence are putting their cars on the line by their own act of will. It is, then, more or less these people's fault if their car is there. The Weathermen believe, after all, that there can be no spectators in the revolution-you're either part of it, or you are automatically acting against it. I am thinking that they are probably right, but, at the same time, they are demanding an awful lot, in fact, too much, of people. Someone suggests that we spare Volkswagens and that sort of thing. The idea is passively accepted by the group spread around the floor.
Before we break up this meeting into several smaller ones for the regional areas, the girl announces the actions planned for today. They have already been described on the big Weatherman poster as follows:
"The women's militia will strike the Armed Forces Induction Center in the morning and show the strength of a women's fighting force. Meet at the Logan Statue (across from the Hilton Hotel, Balboa and Michigan) in Grant Park, at 9:30 a.m.
"Jailbreak! In the afternoon we move on some of Chicago's high schools to liberate kids from the racist pig lies which are forced on them in the jails known as 'schools.'
"Wargasm! At night, we come together in celebration of the struggle. Details will be announced at the movement center."
Now the girl is telling us that the jailbreaks and the wargasm have been moved back to tomorrow because the Panthers have asked us to join them in a highly-disciplined, no-violence demonstration at the Federal Building where the Conspiracy 8 are being tried this afternoon. The Panthers are going to be the marshalls, and the thing they do is always super organized, so we are, going to be doing what they ask us to do while we're there.
The Boston group collects in a corner to discuss what specific things they are about to do. This is what is called an affinity group, in other words, all the people from an area, who are used to working and fighting together. The affinity group keeps its members supplied, transports them, and looks after them in the actions.
The first talk is about who's missing from last night. A guy from Boston, everyone knows him, has been shot. Someone says he thought we had 24 people from Boston here last night. We count. There are only 14 here now. Boston has been hit harder than most groups. People name several people who might have been arrested.
We get on to reorganizing the running groups. The running groups are the people who actually stick together when we go out running. Affinity groups like Boston stay largely together at the actions, but are too big to be depended on. The ideal size of a running group, it is decided, is five or six.
A couple of people volunteer for security (standing guard and checking everyone who comes in), and some start looking into food. All the women from the center get together for a quick meeting because they are about to leave for their 9:30 action at the induction center.
They are buckling tight the snaps on their leather jackets. They all have some kind of jeans on and wear boots. They seem completely at ease with their clothes and with their heads. It is a very beautiful sight. Some of them have tied their hair behind their heads, some have it loose and are bringing their helmets down over it. They are young (20), but tough just like us. They've probably been to rock'n'roll and back.
A couple of them are especially good-looking as chicks. They look great in helmets. The Weathermen look very good as a group. The boys all have long hair. It's the cultural trademark of their political identity, the way the Panthers' black skin is theirs.
I like what the Weathermen are. They are more honest about themselves than other revolutionaries. They don't cut their hair so they can share the oppression of the majority of white working people, and they want to bust up the schools as the source of that oppression. And, of course, they're right, the schools are it-the worst deal in our whole miserable lives.
The Motor City 9 are included in our movement center. The Motor City 9 are nine girls who have been ripping off high schools in the Detroit area. They have been pictured in SDS newspapers. They are pretty tough. They are getting ready to go with the others.
A couple of girls kiss their boyfriends goodbye. One boy is quietlytalking with some of the chicks about whether he can come on the action with his girl. He says they're going to stay together because they're both on their way out to the Coast, and don't want to risk having one of them arrested alone, leaving the other hung up in Chicago. The women tell him that they all have to make sacrifices for the movement. But his girl decides not to go. The boy tells the others, "You've got to find happiness for yourself, first, before you can find it for other people."
I have been assigned to one of the running groups, but am undecided about what I want to do. I know that I believe that the Weathermen's actions are pretty much confused politically. This makes me think that I'm a real counterfeit by letting myself be put into a running group. Being in a running groups means that I have responsibilities to all the other members of the group, and, also, a responsibility to act in a certain violent way when the Weathermen go into the streets. I am not ready to act that way.
On the other hand, I sympathize with the Weathermen's idea of the big smash. Their attack is a total one and a very self-involving one. It is something I can feel much more than explain.
I am sitting on my blankets while people mill around and doze. I feel the pressure of politics on my existence. The Weathermen are here because they have to be. I may like what I think is anarchistic, self-involving action, but they really believe that they are responsible for helping the Viet Cong behind the lines. The only-feelings that could hold me to being a Weatherman are feelings of guilt.
I tell a guy in my running group that I'm going to split this center. I pack my duffle bag, and take the CTA down to an apartment where some other people I know are staying in Chicago.
At noon kids are filtering into the plaza next to the Federal Building in downtown Chicago. The Federal Building is a twenty-story glass box held off the ground on stilts. If Jerry Rubin is in there, we'll never know it. Police officers are lined up two steps apart all the way down the street on both sides. Their helmets are on, their clubs are in their hands. Three more busloads of cops are parked up a side street. A detachment is standing in back of the plaza. The plaza, itself, is attended on its peripheries by about one hundred plainclothes cops, most of whom are wearing dark glasses and turtlenecks so they will be mistaken for kids.
A policeman in a squad car is giving orders over a loudspeaker system which resounds off the buildings of the Loop. He tells the people walking by to keep moving and that they are not allowed to stop in this area unless they are in the plaza. A battery of a dozen TV newsreel cameras lines the edge of the roof of the building across the street from the plaza.
I run into Classman of the Herald-Traveler, Jacobs and Carlson of the Crimson, Krim of the Washington Post, and Parker of the Globe. They tell me that the women were surrounded this morning before they could get out of Grant Park. They charged twice, and 15 were arrested. They let the rest go when they gave up their helmets. It is sad. Very sad. I am sad. Atotal of 63 were arrested last night. With 15 more that's 78.
Now Mike Klonsky begins to speak. This is bad for the Weathermen. Klonsky is the head of RYM-II. If the Panthers have really made this deal with the Weathermen, then Klonsky shouldn't be speaking. It looks like a real fuck-up on the part of our leadership, and the Weathermen are getting screwed. Klonsky gives a fiery speech in which he cuts up the Weathermen for what they did last night. He calls them "adventuristic" and so on. Then the Young Lords (the Puerto Rican gang) and Fred Hampton of the Panthers criticize the Weathermen. Hampton calls them "Custer-istic," which is surprisingly apt.
I am standing in the crowd listening more to the Weatherman next to me tell his friend how his running group is going to blow up the pig school out at the Chicago Circle campus of the University of Illinois tonight. Suddenly another member of that running group is being pulled back out of the crowd by two black plainclothes cops with cigars in their mouths. The others in the group try to save him, but suddenly there are plainclothes cops everywhere. They drag the kid quickly across the street to the paddy wagon.
Four different kids are being arrested in different places around the plaza. Newsmen are told to get out of the street when thy try to get pictures. Police move in front of the crowd to prevent any reaction. The RYM-II people form a human chain to keep their people in the plaza so they won't get arrested.
The Weathermen running groups are trapped in the plaza. The one from which the kid was arrested starts to leave, walking down the street. The plainclothes guys hurry over and get one more kid who they haul off, twisting his arm behind his back, shoving him into the back of the paddy wagon.
This useless demonstration has been a disaster. Seventeen people are arrested either in the plaza or on the streets of Chicago for being recognized at last night's rioting.
People leave this demonstration to go to another one held by RYM-II in west Chicago to support some striking factory workers. Marching columns of police follow the people as they look for the CTA and the 60 Blue bus. Traffic is stopped and TV cameramen are left standing aimlessly in the street as the people find their transit and board it.
RYM-II's second event is held on a grassy median strip between the Cooke County Jail and International Harvester factory. The factory is being closed down so they can build a new jail on its site. Its workers, who will lose their jobs or at least their seniority, walked out on strike this morning. We are here to support them.
About 200 cops are here to watch us. Their buses are pulled up on the side of the road. Cooke County sheriffs and deputies, armed with baseball bats, are lined in front of the jail to protect it. Plainclothesmen speak into microphones in parked cars. Squad cars cruise back and forth past the seene. Police photographers are shooting still and movie film from across the street. A police helicopter circles overhead.
Three fifteen-year-old school kids wander up suspiciously, smoking cigarettes. They hold their cigarettes like pencils with the ash end sticking out between their thumb and first two fingers. One explains that he just go his hair cut, but it used to be long. They say they wish we'd come over and bust up their school because it really sucks.
I recognize some Weathermen groups who are here. They are observing because RYM-I has got nothing on tap for this afternoon. They were considering an action at the Federal Building after the Panthers abdicated the lead of that demonstration, but the Federal Building was a trap. I talk to someone from the Boston collective. I tell him the latest revised figures have 89 arrested-60 last night, 12 this morning, and 17 this afternoon.
Klonsky speaks. There will be no violence, he says. "The microphone belongs to the workers today," he says, and hands it to the nearest worker. The worker says he's glad to see our support. They talk for a couple of more hours, and it all dissolves. It's the kind of demonstration that makes a Weatherman out of you.
At midnight I go back to our movement center where they are holding a secret meeting of all the 250 or so Weathermen in Chicago to discuss what has already happened and to plan their strategy until Saturday. The entire Weather Bureau is there.
There is a struggle at the back stairs. A big theological seminary student is trying to get past security down into the room. One of the guards is ready to let him have it with a club when somebody mediates. The invader says he goes to school here and he wants to use the food machines, which are in this room, where the meeting is being held. After a pause, they decide to let him get his stuff and go back upstairs. Someone apologizes to him and explains why their security is so touchy. He says he understands and buys a sandwich out of the machine.
I am thinking that he's probably a cop, but the Weather Bureau has been having a lot of trouble with the head seminary people today about staying here. So I figure it's probably just as well.
Mark Rudd talks, and then someone with red hair in a T-shirt begins a long rap about Weathermen political philosophy. I'm leaning against a post, summarizing, for my own use, Weathermen philosophy as follows:
1) Our economic structure in this country (capitalism, my father's corporations, your father's corporations) perpetuate a system. Our related social habits (thinking we are separate people, out on our own, not responsible to the poor around us) perpetuate the system. The system, whether or not it means to, keeps down the poor and the people in foreign countries where we have imperial interests.
2) Our jail-like schools make us unhappy, with the result that we become oppressors defending the system to cover up our unhappiness. Family-inspired social conventions teach us subconsciously to do absurd things like giving an inferior role to women. And the values of our competitive capitalist economy teach us to squish anyone who's weaker than us.
3) Since the system makes us oppressors, no half-way effort to change the system, which cooperates with some of the values of that system, could ever win.
4) Only the kids and the blacks will join the struggle because they're the only ones whose lives aren't already tied up in the values of the system. The white workers won't join because they've got a white-skin privilege.
5) There is a world-wide people's revolution going on right now. National boundaries don't cut us off from this because when the revolution is over, there will be only one people's government.
6) The first actions of this white revolutionary youth movement in the U.S. must be of a symbolic nature because its numbers are now small. They must show that the human spirit is capable of actual fighting even in spite of the peacefulness and obedience we were taught in school.
7) Finally, if people are shown that fighting can be, and is, done, then more kids will join in.
This is close to how the Weathermen in the street looks at things. I like it because it gets at the complexity of the world's guilt.
I could never act on it because I don't think any government will ever know how to run a country very well. Sartre said that revolution only changes the tyrants. "Revolution" means one 360 turn all the way around to the same place again.
I buy a sandwich, myself, and take the CTA back down to Chicago.
THE NEXT day it is raining. The jailbreaks have been called off because the repression is so heavy. The schools are all guarded by the police. Weathermen are being arrested in the streets.
At the movement center in the afternoon someone describes hitting a cop in the face with a lead pipe Wednesday night just as the cop was getting out of his car. Most kids who hit cops don't escape. He was lucky.
I talk to two people from the Boston group. They say that tomorrow they are going to break through the police lines. I sympathize with their spirit, but I don't want to join them. I hope they all make it back.
At the apartment, we get drunk and zipped so we can sleep before tomorrow. I am crashed asleep at 3:20 when Joan comes in and wakes me up for a phone call. Parker has got a tip that the cops are massing for a bust outside one of the movement centers. He'll pick me up on his way to get John Kifner, who is covering it for the New York Times.
I call our movement center and no one answers. I figure it's all over and they're busting everyone.
We get to the scene of the bust, and it's finished. The glass door is broken. But there are kids inside still guarding the center. They won't talk to Kifner and tell him to leave. We drive to the police station where he finds out that they raided only one place, 43 were arrested, and over a hundred were left there.
Last night the Weathermen had beaten up an undercover cop they discovered trying to get by. Tonight the cops raided to arrest his attackers, and arrested the others when they started fighting. There were at least 15 cops.in on the raid. I am glad most people didn't get busted.
On the way back downtown the newspapermen are all talking about the arrests as if it were a Parker Brothers demonstrator-cop game. I am thinking that they have lost their feeling for how serious the kids were about what they were doing. I tell Kifner that I regret? the pan I wrote of Medium Cool because they were proving the movie was right about the heartless press. He seems a little upset that I should say that. I realize that I said it because it was the only thing simple enough to score a meaning at 6:00 in the morning. I tell myself that I don't know. I begin to think that I don't exist again.
At noon in Chicago's Haymarket Square it is cold. The wind is blowing down through a corridor of dirty brick warehouses and right between the threads of my shirts. I am shivering, sitting in a doorway watching six Chicago cops circle their blue and white three-wheel motorcycles in front of me and park.
They leave their engines on. Exhaust runs out onto the sidewalk. They talk into the radios. They sit and grimace, tighten their gloves. A police captain walks past them telling men to take up positions on the corners.
Patrol cars are pulled over to the sides of the street. Plain cars full of plainclothes cops are sitting in parking slots in the square. As far as you can see up Randolph Street into the Loop there are cops stationed every 50 feet on both sides of the street.
Huddled in the shelter of a massive concrete pedestal in one corner of the square is one kid. Last Monday night the statue of a policeman, which was on that pedestal, was mysteriously blown up. By us.
A few hours earlier this morning bombs exploded at two Chicago induction centers, but little damage was done. A little later four kids were caught in downtown Chicago carrying bombs. That makes the total arrested so far close to 150.
Quietly 5 Weathermen walk into the square from the west and gather around the base of the statue. The Red Squad. Chicago's plainclothes cops, starts walking toward the statue from the other end of the square. No one notices them, but I recognize a couple of them from two days ago. I wonder what they're doing.
They slip into the crowd of Weathermen, and I start hurrying over there. Two of their clubs are raised into the air above the crowd and come crashing down. They are dragging two kids toward the police cars. Everyone is completely surprised. The kids are bleeding. One of them is Mark Rudd. About 50 newsmen are taking pictures of Rudd's arrest and surround the cops all the way to the squad car.
At the same time two other people are arrested. One is a girl. She is led off in a different direction while everyone follows Rudd. Another boy is heaved into a paddy wagon in back of the statue.
The police back off, and the captain walks up and down shouting through the loudspeakers for everyone to clear the streets. The Weathermen sit tight, waiting for the next wave of arrests.
Several large affinity groups arrive from both the west and the east. Re-enforcement's. The crowd around the statue is close to 200. People are putting on their helmets. They have clubs and flares up their sleeves, and they take them out.
John Jacobs, head theoretician of the Weathermen, has not been arrested. He stands up and shouts out a brilliant and passionate summary of the Weatherman philosophy before they go into their last battle in Chicago:
"There is a war in Vietnam and we are a Vietnam within America. We are small but we have stepped in the way of history. We are going to change this country. . . .
"The battle of Vietnam is one battle in the world revolution. It is the Stalingrad of American imperialism. We are part of that Stalingrad. We are the guerrillas fighting behind enemy lines. . . .
"We will not commit suicide. We will not fight here. We will march to where we are within the symbol-the very pig fascist architecture. . . . But we will make a political stand today."
A girl gets up, and says that we must rise with people's liberation movements around the world. She is wearing an army helmet, which is down almost over her eyes.
The Weathermen start marching very quickly up Randolph Street towards the city, chanting "Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh / NLF is Going to Win." The police lead the march, but hurry to stay in front of it.
When they are into the Loop area, the march turns south on LaSalle Street, still moving very fast and still led by the police. But there are only about 12 policemen moving with the march. Others are standing 50 feet apart along the sidewalk on both sides for several miles through Chicago. But the Weathermen never have more than a couple of dozen police around them.
Two blocks later at Madison Street, they break. The leadership lets out battle cries, and 200 Weathermen go screaming through the police line out into the open street to the east.
The captain blows on his whistle and waves his arms. But they are already gone. The street around him is empty.
Rocks and pipes are thrown out of the running crowd into the windows of the stores all along Madison Street. Glass comes showering down right next to me. All the way up the street it goes crack, crack,crack, crack, crack, like a spreading earthquake.
Plainclothes police charge into the back of the mob. A boy is grabbed. They twist his arm, and throw him on the ground, where he is pinned. A girl is knocked into the side of a parked car. She falls against the acrial and bends it over. They grab her, spin her around, and drag her down the street to a car.
A cop in a trench coat runs straight into a girl going the other way. The girl is knocked flying through the air backwards. She is wearing a leather jacket and lands on her shoulders. Her head inside a helmet slams against the pavement. She rolls over and gets up again. But the cop grabs her and forces her to the ground.
A boy who was tripped by one cop is pounced upon by another who starts clubbing him, and then kneels on him. The boy covers his head because he doesn't have a helmet. I take a picture of it.
Someone else is being clubbed further up the street.
A policeman yells, "Get that one." I turn to see a boy in a black sweater sprint up the street dodging diagonally away from two cops. A third cop barely intercepts him on the far sidewalk. The cop throws a block into the running kid's hip. The kid goes sailing out of sight into the lobby of a movie theatre.
I chase the crowd, which turned south at the first street. A boy is lying down on the sidewalk, handcuffed to a streetlight. The police are trying to regroup: I can see the crowd farther down the street still breaking windows, and running unchecked by police.
The police won't try to face the mob head-on while they are still in small numbers. The police in this area of the Loop are spread out along the planned parade route. They attack the stragglers from the crowd.
The Weathermen are turning cast again and breaking up into affinity groups. They split into different parts of the downtown shopping area. And we go running down the sidewalk, dodging shoppers to keep track of them.
The Weathermen are on the loose again. There were only 200 of them and a couple thousand of the cops, but they still busted out. I'm racing down the street glowing in the wonder of people's eyes.
The Weathermen are going to get it. This area is being flooded by even more sirens. They won't be able to get out. It is daylight.
I find the Boston group on State Street. They are walking the same speed as the rest of the crowd except that they have helmets and leather jackets on. They stay in a solid group. A police car is following them.
The other pedestrians don't notice them very much. They walk by in both directions. The group hesitates, then turns down a side street. The police follow.
They turn south again, and there are at least four squad cars and two motorcycles keeping up with them, radioing in their locations to somewhere.
A police car stops, and four cops with helmets and clubs get out. They start walking after the group, but then reconsider and get back in their car.
The Weathermen keep on walking. They turn around corners as often as they can. They maneuver away from heavy concentrations of police.
It becomes very difficult for their police tails to stick with them. Their squad cars get caught up in intersections crowded with Saturday traffic and weekend shoppers. The Weathermen walk up one-way streets the wrong way.
The police might not have the evidence they need to arrest them all right now. A fight further up the street calls several of the cars away.
The Weathermen make a quick turn, and when they seem to be free of police, tuck their helmets and jackets into shopping bags. They thin out their group by walking at different speeds. And the Boston group has disappeared into the masses.
I run into the only Harvard student in the Boston group, who is a friend of mine. He was in Kirkland House with me. He asks what is happening. I say that, as far as we know, most of the police are north and south of here. We keep walking to avoid notice. He says that they will probably now leave this area.
I go to Madison and State where they've got three kids up against the patrol car for trying to bomb Carsons, a big department store. The police are telling everyone to keep moving over a loudspeaker system. A T.V cameraman tells me to clear out soon because they're busting everyone with long hair.
The National Guard has been mobilized. They are driving up and down the streets in the back of jeeps armed with rifles. 3000 people join an illegal (no permit) RYM-II demonstration up in Old Town. 175 black high school kids climb all over the Civic Center's Picasso sculpture at the end of the march to protest police action in recent disturbances at their schools. 200 hippies gather in Grant Park for an impromptu reaction to the Weathermen's actions. The police think these are the Weathermen and bring out 200 police to watch them.
The Weathermen have shown they will, for some reason, fight, and everyone is so confused. Six policemen are searching a carload of some very apolitical-looking freaks. They are searching for weapons.
At sunset I take the train to the movement center. One of the people from the Boston group tells me that almost everyone from their group is back, and they will be leaving the state within the hour. 140 were arrested this afternoon. 290 or 90 per cent of the Weathermen are in jail. And more than half of those dragged off were bleeding. Some entire groups got ripped off. Colorado and Seattle were hit very bad.
But Boston's coming back. They took the risk and made it through. It's incredible.
I sneak up to the Tribune building at night with my duffle bag. It is very dangerous to be a long-haired kid from out of state on the streets. They are still arresting people. I meet Parker and Glassman in the Times office. Glassman gives me his suit coat so we won't get stopped. Parker drives us to the airport. And we take off out of there.
We are flying over lit Chicago, and I can see all the streets at once.
I am ambivalent. What the Weathermen were doing is suicide. My existence can still live with itself, it isn't screaming for a finish. And it doesn't want to color itself an unchanging grey by landing in jail for two years. The first thing the Weathermen have going against them, the main thing, the only thing that can seem really important, is the way their actions wipe out the self. It brings them down on you. Even if they are now slowly eating you away by the way they make you live, that seems better than being destroyed suddenly and totally.
Maybe to be a Weatherman you have to feel like nothing, to feel so crushed and fitted into the system that the only thing you want to do is break off and go smashing through the machinery with the hope that the other gears will come smashing with you. We are all guilty of racism and genocide. Just by living in the U.S., we are helping to maintain the status quo that burns the villages in Vietnam. All my happinesses are probably at the expense of others' sufferings. The world is like that. And it doesn't have to be, I don't think.
Everyone dislikes the Weathermen. Their fellow New Left political groups, the professors, the average student in the street, the general public of mothers and fathers, the policemen, and even the editorial page of this newspaper, of which I am an executive. They dislike the Weathermen because they can explain why the Weathermen are wrong and they think the Weathermen are stupid for not knowing it themselves.
I like the Weathermen because I hate everyone else. Everyone thinks they know. I don't know. I can't say the Weathermen are wrong. I can act: I can make decisions, and try to keep doing only those things that seem to make sense. But I don't know. I don't think I'll ever know.
It seems that the only people who get hurt by the Weatherman actions are the Weathermen themselves. Some people's property is smashed and a few people who are policemen are hurt. But the Weathermen say that those people are the big gears in the machine that's wiping people out all over the world. This statement sounds like it might be somewhat true. Just how true it is and how much "moral responsibility" people "owe" other people for the way they both live I don't know. I'm not even sure that "moral responsibility" exists. All feelings of morality that I have are not real things; they are just the values that my growing-up existence has worked into me.
One first feels his morality and then adopts a rationale for it later. My morality can have a great deal of sympathy with the Weatherman slogan "Bring the War Home." In other words, if they are going to perpetrate the war, let them experience their own work. Of course, morality is much more intricate than that. But that is just the point. The morality is infinitely complex: Nixon is not responsible for the war in Vietnam. No one in particular is. So the Weathermen are attacking that no one.
I have a great natural sympathy for crazy, anarchistic action. Preferably action that offers no further risk of guilt. I would like to blow up big stone banks, tip over the Washington Monument. I used to sit every morning when I was 14 years old in a big gothic chapel dreadming of machine-gunning the headmaster and deacons when they walked out the front door.
I also like disorder, chaos, riot, and entropy. The people who say they know don't know. I love to see them at a loss for words while I hug the unknown.
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