Monthly Archives: June 1967

1967.06.30: Bloody Friday: LBJ in L.A. (LA Free Press)[Century Plaza]

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1967.06.30 – Los Angeles Free Press (Century Plaza)

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LOS ANGELES

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LBJ in L.A.

90 PLACES TO GO THIS WEEK

Police Riot Extra-See Pages 9-15

Vol. 4, #26 (Issue # 154) OL 4-7100

COPYRIGHT 1967

THE LOS ANGELES FREE PRESS

««> $5.00 PER YEAR June 30-July 6, 1967

WHY

DID IT

HAPPEN?

ART KUNKIN

The position of the Los Angeles Police Department is: We gave the anti-Johnson demonstrators at Century City fair and legal warning last Friday. We ordered them to disperse. When they did not move, and when they did not move fast enough, we did what was necessary: we cleared the streets. If we had to use billy clubs, well, that is why we have them. We have the duty to protect the President, oui government, property, and the private citizen against unlawful, unruly mobs.

Fact: The Los Angeles police are trained in crowd control and crowd psychology. Fact: The demonstrators had every legal right to be where they were. Didn’t the police perceive that the demonstrators strongly believed in their constitutional right to assemble in protest against the policies of the American government?

Didn’t the police anticipate that the demonstrators would be unwilling to disperse, would consider the order to disperse itself an unlawful act when (Fact) there was no violence or disorder of any type before the police moved in with drawn billy clubs; when (Fact) there was no movement of the demonstrators toward the hotel in violation of private property or the conditions of the parade permit; when (Fact) the President was never endangered by a single demonstrator; when (Fact) the march monitors had the situatipn in hand and could have moved the crowd past the hotel in an orderly fashion if the police had not interfered.

Everyone concerned with the preservation of orderly and democratic government in the United States must therefore ask: Do police have the right to aggressively attack and bloodily disperse a peaceful group of demonstrators? Do police have an unquestioned* right to pursue riotous policies

(Continued on page 12)

COMING NEXT WEEK

Antonioni in Los Angeles, by Bruce Henstell; An interview with Buffy Saint-Marie, by DonStra- chan; More on the June 23 Peace March with an article by a police officer and comments on the reaction throughout the city; Nat Freedland resumes his series on San Francisco; H. Lawrence Lack on the troubles of the Community Alert Patrol; Plus Liza Williams, Lawrence Lipton, Jerry Hopkins, Elliot Mintz and many more.

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR FOOD STAMPS?

EDMUND MEAGHER

About a year ago, manna from heaven began raining on the heads of the poor here in Los Angeles County — but not many of them knew about it. In the summer of 1966 the Federal Government began a trial run of what could become one of the biggest handouts in modern times — the distribution of food stamps.

But mystery still surrounds the program because publicity has been practically non-existent. i he ins and outs of how to qualify are hard to come by, but dont’t be too sure you’re not eligible.

The economics of this handout are fascinating. Unlike Blue Chip Stamps, which return about a penny for every dollar you spend, the government’s variety AVERAGES a return of 30 cents. But that’s only the average —if

you’re poor enough, you can get back as much as six or seven dollars for every dollar spent.

For example, four flower children living together with a total monthly income of less than $20 can lay down $8 and receive food stamps worth $52 each and every month. With stamps in hand, they can go to their local grocery store and spend them like money for almost anything they can eat.

NOT CHARITY

The Food Stamp Program is not considered charity or public assistance. It was set up by the Department of Agriculture to improve the nation’s diet by moving more agriculture products through normal trade channels to low-income consumers.

The difference between food stamps and relief is important to those who have “dropped out”

in the Tim Leary sense: on relief, if you refuse to work when it’s offered to you, you’re ineligible, but you can always get food stamps if your income is low enough.

Here are some of the rules for qualifying:

1. You must live in Los Angeles County. Even if you just arrived last week, you’re eligible if you’re living here now.

2. You must apply as a “household.” A household is any group of persons sharing cooking facilities for whom food is purchased in common. A single person preparing his own food can also be a household.

3. You must not have any “liquid assets” (money or securities) over $1000 for a single person

JUNE 23 MOVEMENT CRITICIZES MONITORING OF PEACE PARADE

SUE LACK

An evaluation of last Friday’s climactic events and a consequent re-evaluation of the local peace movement has resulted in the formation of a new coalition aptly entitled The June 23 Movement.

The group ‘sprang full blown’ at a Sunday meeting in Venice of 50-60 determined veterans of the melee, several of whom bore

battle scars and/or notices to appear for arraignment. Although diverse, often divergent political views were represented, a consensus was reached on several points of theory.

First, they affirmed the irrevocable right of each individual to protest the war according to his own conscience, regardless of the factions which may exist

within the movement. They further declared solidarity with those beaten and injured in Friday’s demonstration as well as future victims.

These resolutions were prompted by a general feeling that the monitors, brought together by Peace Action Council, did by many of their actions unwittingly impose upon the crowd

— which consisted of 14 separate “demonstrations” as well as a vast number of unaffiliated people

— the protest concept of a single minority group.

This, some claimed, compounded the confusion, thus lessening the chances for spontaneous, unified action. Men complained that monitors forcibly restrained them from aiding defenseless women and children under attack by the police.

Such actions, they felt, amounted to indirect complicity with the aggressors.

Some of the monitors at the meeting reported that they were unware that by carrying out their instructions, they were preventing others from coming to the aid of fellow marchers and in some cases causing situations which attracted the police.

They placed the blame for this on inadequate briefing and inaccurate on-the-spot communication, shortcomings which could never have been completely overcome.

Despite the apparent differences in approach which Friday revealed, people at the meeting expressed eagerness to keep a meaningful dialogue open with the PAC and other peace groups.

The general effect of Friday’s experience, entirely new to most white Americans, was a broadening of committment to include hitherto less radical whites, the opening of new action alternatives, and a radicalization of the peace movement. Possibly indicative of the latter is a resolution passed by a 2-1 majority at a Saturday meeting at the Orange County Peace Center which called for self-defense in future demonstrations.

Following the general discussion, the group defined its goals as follows: to aid those arrested and injured, to widen the scope of the trials to include the issues of the war itself as well as police brutality, to collect and compile accounts of the events thereby clarifying the facts for the general public, and to prolong the impact of Johnson’s visit through constant publicity and increased action, such as public meetings, and demonstrations.

To implement the above, the Movement founded functional committees. Dozens of suggestions were put forth. Supporters are encouraged to write letters to newspapers, congressmen, and officials; to report their experiences on talk shows and at formal and informal meetings in their respective areas; to donate funds if possible, and to attend the trials of those arrested.

The June 23 Movement is temporarily headquartered at 36 Sunset, Venice. See their number elsewhere in the Free Press for registering witness complaints.

Monday evening is traditionally the night for gallery hopping on La Cienega Blvd. and so the Los Angeles Committee for the Angry Arts chose this time to stage a “Peace Walk” to symbolize their opposition to the War in VietNam.

The walk began at eight o’clock and for an hour and a half more than two thousand artists and sympathizers, each wearing a black armband marked with the American flag, circled Gallery Row carrying lighted candles.

From Melrose Avenue the long line of lights stretched north along the sidewalk to Santa Monica Blvd., more than four blocks away, then crossed La Cienega and returned on the other side of the street. Because of

the number of the walkers, the circle became endless and as more and more joined, the spaces between the walkers shortened until finally the entire eight blocks of sidewalk was solidly occupied.

Since the composition of the marchers was similar to that of Friday’s demonstration, with many straight or even square appearing people, many children and few hippies, the news media had to content themselves with waiting in line to photograph the few bizarre types who did exhibit themselves.

Due to the absence of outside agitators, such as the President of the United States or the Los Angeles Police, the march was orderly at all times.

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or $1500 for a group. However, there are special rules for college students, who can have greater assets if these are needed to carry them over an entire semester.

4. Your “net monthly income” cannot exceed that shown in the foUowing table.

probably want to see proof of incbme. If your’re working regularly, this could be your last few payroll stubs. If you’re existing on part-time jobs, try to get your employer to write a little note, such as “On June 27, 1967, I paid Joe Doaks$5.40 as commission for selling the

FOOD STAMPS-PERMONTH Must Pay Receive Profit

2 college students living off savings of $2100 for 9 months Rent: $125/mo.

Dental expenses: $40/mo.

Books: $22/mo

Tuition & fees: $3 5/mo.

$24

$40

$16

Man, wife, and 2 children

Income $250/mo.

Medical expenses: $40/mo.

Rent & utilities: $100/mo.

$58

$76

$18

9 hippies in a tribal pad

Income: $160/mo for the group Rent & utilities: $70/mo.

Dental expenses: $30/mo.

$50

$116

$66

4 hippies in one pad

Income: $100/mo total

Rent & utilities: 140,/mo.

$40

$76

$36

 

1967.06.23: LAPD Attacks Antiwar Protesters at LBJ Fundraiser

1967.06.23: LAPD Attacks Antiwar Protesters at LBJ Fundraiser

Note: Leon and Alita Letwin (with two of their children, Michael and David) were among thousands of antiwar marchers protested President Lyndon B. Johnson’s appearance at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, June 23, 1967. Foreshadowing the Chicago police riot against antiwar protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the LAPD brutally assaulting the marchers.

———
LOS ANGELES POLICE ATTACK PEACEFUL ANTI-WAR MARCHERS

Century City protest

Century City protest

On June 23, 1967, President Lyndon Johnson was attending a $500-a-plate fundraising dinner at the swank Century Plaza Hotel in posh Century City, nestled between Beverly Hills and wealthy Westwood. That afternoon thousands of demonstrators gathered at nearby Cheviot Hills Park for a march through Century City and in front of the hotel to protest the Vietnam War. The pre-march rally was like a summer festival, vendors selling hot dog and young people flying kites. Anti-war celebrities like Mohammad Ali, Benjamin Spock, and H. Rap Brown spoke to the crowd before they began marching in the early evening peacefully up the Avenue of the Stars towards the Century Plaza Hotel.

Spectators on the sidewalk joined the march in progress, swelling the ranks of protestors. Within yards of the elegant fountains bisecting northbound and southbound traffic on the Avenue of the Stars in front of the hotel, the march came to a virtual standstill. Police had created a bottleneck, effectively forcing marchers from four street lanes to one. Other officers had blocked the intersection in front of the initial demonstrators. Further complicating the scene was a group of 25 people who staged a sit-in on the street in front of the hotel, further slowing the forward momentum of marchers.

INFORMER GIVES INACCURATE INFORMATION

Nine stories above, Los Angeles Police Chief Thomas Reddin stood in the hotel, looking down on the growing crowd. He noticed a “bulge” in the crowd, and he believed that an assault on the hotel was in the works. He ordered officers below to disperse the crowd.

A phalanx of 1,300 riot-helmeted officers carrying guns and nightsticks was poised to take action. They had been briefed, based on information from an informer who had attended protest planning meetings, that some demonstrators might try to unleash mice and cockroaches, or detonate stink or smoke bombs in the hotel and the storm the lobby. The informer, however, failed to explain that protest organizers had rejected these suggestions from audience members at public meetings and instead stressed that the march would be non-violent. It was perhaps the clearly non-radical tone of the march that attracted so many middle-class people from all over Southern California, many of whom had never before participated in an anti-war demonstration.

Policed, though, considered the entire group as potentially dangerous to the President, and after Chief Reddin issued his order, officers announced over a distorted loudspeaker system that since the march had stopped it was an illegal assembly and the demonstrators had to disperse.

BOXED-IN

Many protestors close to the loudspeakers did not hear or understand the instructions. But even for those who did, there was nowhere to go. They were essentially boxed in by the police guarding the hotel to the west, a throng of thousands of marchers to the south, a steep railed embankment and construction zone to the east, and a police blockade to the north. Several blocks south, demonstrators had no idea why the march had stopped. Scattered groups began to sing—first “America, the Beautiful,” then “God Bless America,” and finally “The Star Spangled Banner.” Some marchers sat down in exhaustion

Police made three more dispersal orders that began, “In the name of the people of the State of California, I declare this to be an unlawful assembly. . . .” only to be drowned out by the chant of the marchers replying “Weare the people. We are the people.”

POLICE ATTACK BEGINS

A line of police officers started pushing the crowd from the southwest to the northeast, but there was no where for demonstrators to move. Police then began striking protestors and prodding them like cattle with sticks. People began falling down. The police acted indiscriminately, attacking even children, the elderly, and people with visible disabilities.

Bernice Ham, a 49-year-old housewife from suburban Bellflower later reported “My son is a hemiplegic, that is, he has partial paralysis on his right side and can walk by dragging that foot which is supported by a brace. He also wears a brace on his arm. This paralysis is caused by a malignant brain tumor and surgery. . . . The police charged into us. The crowd went back as far as possible and my son and I began to walk south as the police desired, as fast as we could. . . . My son turned and told the officer who was pulling me not to hit his mother. He responded by hitting my son on the left side of the head—the side where his tumor is—knocking him to the ground, and breaking his glasses. Then he and several officers began swinging their clubs at him and kicking him. I screamed. ‘Please don’t hit his head, please don’t hit his head,’ because any blow could kill him. I threw myself on top of his head to protect it and they kicked him in the side and stepped on his hand.”

Thirty-five year old Elinor Defibaugh, witnessed an officer hitting an elderly woman with his billy club. “The husband asked the officer, ‘What business do you have hitting my wife?’ The policeman replied by hitting the old lady again. . . . Then I saw the same officer hit a teenage (17 or 18) girl. Then I turned to the policeman and asked, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ I was, at the time, holding my poodle in my arms and was unable to move or obviously threaten the officer in any way. The officer replied to my question by hitting me in the chest with his billy club.”

For nearly 90 minutes, Los Angeles police officers beat, kicked, and verbally abused hundreds of protestors. Officers corralled people back at Cheviot Hills Park before releasing them in groups of five or less.

HUNDREDS FILE COMPLAINTS

Over 500 people submitted statements and complaints about police action to the ACLU of Southern California and the demonstration’s organizers.

In response to an ACLU telegram requesting a meeting with the Board of Police Commissioners and the mayor, the Board’s chairperson, Elbert T. Hudson, said that the Board had “reviewed all of the circumstances of the occasion” and concluded that “the police had taken proper action.” Hudson’s response came less than one week after the demonstration. And the Board conducted its review without interviewing a single person who had lodged a complaint against the conduct of police that night.

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