Monthly Archives: June 1968

1968.06.28: June 23 Revisited (LA Free Press)

1968.06.28 – June 23 Revisited (LA Free Press) – OCR

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Page 6 June 21, 1968 Los Angeles Free Press

L. TED RHOADES

TGIF was the password across

the nation. In Los Angeles the day

broke like almost any other June

Friday. Between dawn and midnight

the temperature would rise;

smog would accumulate like a bad

dream; my wife would lose her

virginity; and, the Los Angeles

Police Department would spill the

blood and crack the skulls of

hundreds of middle-class, white

American citizens at the Century

Plaza, reminiscent of the

good ol’ Gestapo days.

Back in Washington on this 1967

June day, Senator Dodd was censured

on ONE COUNT of “Financial

misconduct” that” …tended

to bring the Senate into dishonor

and disrepute …” whatever that

means. His misconducts were essentially

the same as those of

flamboyant AdamClaytonPowell.

The Power Structure had thrown

the book at Adam there are

those who believe that his severe

punishment was more traceable to

his color than to his flamboyance.

Governor Reagan was still notcampaigning

in Omaha, advocating,

among other things, “… the

mining of the Haiphong Harbor.”

In Mississippi James Meredith

continued his lone march

through the State. It was a brave

gesture, but like most civil rights

gestures, it bore no fruit.

To the north and east, in Glassboro,

N.Y. Johnson and Kosygin

took turns grinning into the tv

cameras of the world. Since neither

this country nor the world is

any better this 23 June, either

they agreed on nothing, or just

lied to each other.

My wife and I arrived at the

Cheviot Hills Playground at 4:00

P.M. It was three hours before

the protest parade was scheduled

to move along Pico Boulevard and

the Avenue of the Stars, past the

Century Plaza Hotel where LBJ

Lynda Bird and 1,500 other

Democratic Elite-and-Rich gathered

to scheme about another

four years in the White House

for their Fearless Leader, LBJ.

Already at 4:00 parking was a

problem, and we had to park 3/4

mile from the rallying point. As

we walked we could feel the hostility

of the LAPD,pressingdown

like a humid day. These were

clean cut, bright eyed, noble

looking, Christian young American

men and not all were young

in spic-and-span police uniforms,

but they glared and snarled

as if our presence were a personal

insult to them individually

and collectively.

Overhead the big yellow police

helicopter buzzed back and forth

like a buzzard looking for dead

bodies. It interferred with the

public address system, featuring

Dr. Spock and Muhammad All, and

reminded the assembled that The

Establishment was watching.

We had arrived early deliberately.

I wanted to study the dissenter,

as if he were under a microscope.

I was a veteran protestor,

probably more experienced

than 90% of the gathering, because

I dated back to Ban The

Bomb protests of Steve Alien,

Joe Dolan and Linus Pauling …

when, if we had a hundred concerned

Americans, we felt inspired.

But 23 June was a reappraisal:

did I a middle-aged, non-practicing

Protestant, upper-middleclass

Caucasian have anything

in common with the typical protestors?

Could I identify with

them? Could they identify with

me? Or, was the whole ball of

wax a waste of time?

My wife was a virgin. She had

doubts about the sanity of us protestors;

she especially questioned

our attitudes about the police. She

was a typical housewife not necessarily

gullible and naive but

her normal intercourse with the

police was when she saw them

helping kids across a busy intersection;

or a Public Relation Officer

speaking at the PTA: or

hearing reports of the integrity

and glory of the Police over Establishment

television and radio.

And there was always the L.A.

Times. She secretely regretted

that our only son had not become

a police officer.

But on that 23 June, even with

her virginity, she detected the

oppressive hostility of the police.

I studied the 3,000 who were

already there, 2/3rds of them

were hippies bonafide, dedicated,

practicing, living-andbreathing

hippies. I questioned

my middle-classism, middleagism

against their non-conventional-

ism, their non-participationism,

and wondered if maybe

in my advancing years I had become

embittered, cynical and

if I were espousing a lost cause,

sponsored by the fringe-element

of affluent L.A.?

The 3000 grew to 6000, and the

complexion of the crowd changed.’

It grew older, more dignified,

less opaque as the office workers,

clerks, engineers, and other conventional-

dissenters gathered at

the rallying point. And I felt more

and more as if I did identify

as if our cause were not lost.

Overhead Reddin’s mosquito

buzzed and harrassed the crowd.

On the ground non-flying mosquitos

circled round and round

in squad cars, motorcycles, and

in buses loaded with uniformed,

helmeted officers.

From 6,000 we grew to 10,000,

and eventually to 16,000. Now

the per cent of hippies dropped

from 66% to 25%, and I studied

each one critically, because this

was my baptism to mass-hippieism.

In this group of 4,000

young drop-outs, supposedly a

disgrace to an affluent, intellectual

society, I never saw one

drunk, or one under the influence

of pot; I never saw one

who was abusive, profane, lewd,

belligerant, or insulting. I saw

them practicing their religion of

“love*, and in this respect I

lost my virginity, because it was

my first in-depth study of the

hippie. I never saw one who,

by act or word, disgraced the

gathering, or the country. In

fact they were more adjusted

and mature than most of the nonhippie

society, and I was ready

to identify with them, and hoped

they would accept me.

(Continued on page 8)

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Page 8 June 21, 1968 Los Angeles Free Press

JUNE 23 REVISITED

®From†Page†6©

During†this†period†Reddinßs

subservients†prowled†and†patrolled

like†hungry†bloodhounds¨†their

faces†taunt¨†grim¨†hostileª†the

most†self≠serious¨†full≠of≠condemnation

group†I†had†ever†seen—

so†unlike†the†hippiesƆExcept†for

their†grimness†and†their†hostility¨

they†looked†like†a†satirical

charadeÆ

We†moved†out†of†the†rallying

point†at†7∫00¨†chaperoned†by†the

LAPD†in†an†episode†resembling

an†old†Keystone†Kops†MovieÆ

There†was†a†brief†skirmish†at

the†beginning¨†but†otherwise†it

had†the†features†of†a†peaceful

protest—surely†the†largest†protest

ever†staged†in†the†City

of†the†AngelsÆ

Grim†police†were†everywherehostile¨

threatening¨†unsympatheticÆ

Atop†buildings†lining†the

route¨†they†could†be†seen†as

silhouettes¨†armed†with†powerful

rifles¨†viewing†thousands†of

concerned†Americans¨†without

even†a†slingshot†in†the†total

gatheringÆ

The†representatives†of†the

LAPD†were†hand≠picked¨†then

indoctrinated†and†inflamed†by

the†rantings†of†Honky≠tonk†Sam

Yorty¨†Mayor¨†and†Robin†Hood

Reddin¨†Chief†of†PoliceƆFor

weeks†Yorty†had†set†the†stage¨

had†voiced†and†encouraged†the

hostility†now†being†expressed

by†the†LAPDƆSam†had†decided

that†he†alone†should†decide†the

attitude†of†the†City†of†Los†Angeles

on†the†War†in†Vietnam≠

Sam†approvedª†then†inflamed†the

hand≠picked†ruffians†of†the†LAPD

to†express†his†resentment†and

hostilityÆ

All†the†time†I†listened†to†my

transistor—not†to†Buddy†and†Don

broadcasting†the†Angel†game†as

usual¨†or†later†to†Vinny†and

Jerry†from†Dodger†Stadium¨†but

to†KLAC—and†after†the†game¨

KMPC≠and†the†descriptions†and

opinions†of†their†men†on†one

of†the†upper†balconies†of†the

Century†PlazaÆ

They†talked†about†the†3¨000

to†4¨000†protesters†who†lined

Pico†and†the†A†venue†of†the†Stars—

and†at†one†time†upped†the†estimate

to†6000ƆBut†never†once¨

not†even†as†the†police†charged

the†marchers¨†did†one†of†the

commentators†say†there†was†any

violence†or†overt†acts†by†any

of†the†protestors—until†they†started

defending†themselvesÆ

What†happened†is†history∫†the

major†thrust†was†over†in†two

minutes—violent¨†abrupt¨†explosive¨

unexpected¨†and†unwarrantedÆ

Burly†policemen¨†trained¨

conditioned¨†muscled¨†helmeted¨

armed†with†night≠sticks¨†charged

into†the†stalled†marchers¨

unconcerned†that†half†of†the

marchers†were†women†of†all

ages—from†a†few†weeks†old¨†in

their†parentßs†arms¨†to†70†years

oldª†or†that†the†assemblage†included

protestors†on†crutches

and†in¨wheel≠chairsÆ

In†two†violent¨†chaotic†minutes

my†wife†lost†her†virginity¨†standing

stunned†as†hundreds†of†un≠

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prepared¨†untrained¨†unarmed

protestors†ran¨†rolled¨†staggered¨

were†pushed¨†were†bullied¨†were

beaten†down†an†embankment¨†pursued

and†pummeled†by†helmeted¨

club≠swinging¨†hand≠picked

policemen†of†Reddinßs†eliteƆMiddle≠

class†white†Americans

learned†that†night†what†thousands

of†negroes†had†learned†and†experienced

for†years—learned

first†hand†what†an†SÆSÆ≠type†police

force†can†do†when†inflamed

by†a†big†mouthed¨†rabble≠rousing

mayor¨†and†a†devious†police†chiefÆ

Suddenly†all†over†the†UÆSƆmiddle≠

class†white†Americans

understood†how†the†Establishment

had†actually†spawned†Stokeley

Carmichael†and†Rap†Brown

—and†why†DrƆKingßs†brand†of

non≠violence†was†impotent†and

ineffective†against†SÆSÆ≠type†tacticsÆ

This†was†the†first†incident†on

American†soil†when†white†middleclass

Americans†saw†their†wives¨

children¨†and†compatriots†spill

blood†and†suffer†physical†injuries¨

in†large†numbers¨†for

peacefully†protesting†the†most

immoral¨†insidious†war†of†all

time—protesting†peacefully¨†as

the†constitution†approvesÆ

Every†veteran†of†Century†Plaza

had†a†better†understanding†of†the

Establishment—local†and†national—

and†never†before†did†an

American†Peace†Movement†have

so†much†dedication†and†momentumÆ

Now¨†unfortunately¨†the†Spirit

of†23†June†is†almost†dead¨†because

people†have†the†inherent

fault†of†forgetting†and†becoming

complacentƆOn†April†1†LBJ†announced

he†would†not†seek†nor

accept†the†nomination†for†another

term¨†and†the†peace†movement

lost†much†of†its†steam¨†because

LBJ†had†been†their†stimulator—

and†they†somehow†believed†the

Power†Structure†would†suddenly

correct†all†its†ills¨†and†stop

the†war¨†just†because†LBJ†said

he†was†leavingª†they†suddenly

believed†this†man†who†is†a†chronic

liar†and†deceiver¨†and†they

started†losing†their†spiritƆSo†the

Power†Structure†dusted≠off†Humphrey

and†set†him†up†in†business

on†his†own¨†but†this†is†only†prolonging

the†Johnson†regime—if

not†physically¨†at†least†spiritually

and†politicallyÆ

It†has†been†a†catastrophic†yearÆ

My†wife¨†like†the†others†who†were

shocked†at†Century†Plaza¨†is†no

longer†a†virgin¨†no†longer†an†idolizer

of†the†policeƆBut†we†remember

and†we†honor†our†fellow

dissenters†who†were†brutalized¨

and†who†were†later†fined†in†courtÆ

We†have†watched†King†and†Kennedy

dieª†we†have†watched†the

Power†Structure†select†Nixon†and

Humphrey†as†THEIR†candidates

for†November¨†and†we†are†asked

to†reject†one†and†accept†the†other¨

in†the†name†of†DemocracyÆ

But†the†important†23†June†was

not†ß67¨†nor†is†it†this†yearƆItwill

be†between†now†and†23†June†1969¨

because†America†will†be†in†the

crucible¨†subjected†to†more

stresses†than†any†time†in†the

history—it†will†be†lied†to†and

deceived†by†the†Power†Structure

as†never†before¨†as†they†put†new

icing†on†the†same†unrealistic¨

impractical¨†stagnated†policies¨

with†figurehead†Nixon¨†Humphrey¨

or†maybe†even†the†main

scourge¨†JohnsonÆ

Sooner†or†later†the†American

Dissenter—the†poor¨†the†colored¨

the†anti≠war¨†the†disenfranchised—

will†be†forced†to

challenge†the†Power†Structure—

as†the†French†did—and†say†we

will†have†no†more†23†Junes¨†no

more†murdering†of†our†liberal

leaders¨†no†more†dirty†little

Vietnams¨†no†more†favors†to†the

oil†interests¨†no†more†CIA†intrigue¨

no†more†Senator†Dodds†ÆÆÆÆ

this†day†is†coming¨†and†we†may

see†it†before†the†Second†Anniversary

of†Century†Plaza¨†23†June

1967Æ

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