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Mon Aug 10, 2020, 11:37 AM

Who Was Behind the Largest Mass Arrest in U.S. History?

Who Was Behind the Largest Mass Arrest in U.S. History?

Washington’s police chief took the blame. But Nixon was behind the decision.

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Military troops in May 1971 guarded thousands of Mayday antiwar protesters detained on the practice field of Washington’s N.F.L. team. Soldiers also fended off demonstrators at bridges and federal buildings in the city.Credit...Associated Press

By Lawrence Roberts

Mr. Roberts is the author of “Mayday 1971: A White House at War, a Revolt in the Streets, and the Untold History of America’s Biggest Mass Arrest.”

Aug. 6, 2020

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/06/opinion/nixon-trump-protests-military.html?action=click&algo=bandit-story&block=more_in_recirc&fellback=false&imp_id=245181235&impression_id=9cd204a0-db1f-11ea-9be9-13a0b1904620&index=0&pgtype=Article®ion=footer&req_id=544706881&surface=more-in-opinion


<snip>

As the Mayday action unfolded on May 3, twin-engine Chinook helicopters roared down by the Washington Monument, disgorging troops from the 82nd Airborne Division, who trotted off to the Capitol and other hot spots. In all, the administration summoned 10,000 soldiers and Marines, turning “the center of the nation’s capital into an armed camp with thousands of troops lining the bridges and principal streets, helicopters whirring overhead and helmeted police charging crowds of civilians with nightsticks and tear gas,” according to a New York Times report. More than 12,000 people were swept up over three days, the largest mass arrest in U.S. history.

<snip>

Mr. Kleindienst overrode their concerns with an opinion from the Justice Department’s legal counsel, William Rehnquist, who had been his protégé in their home state, Arizona. Mr. Rehnquist said the act didn’t apply; the president had “inherent constitutional authority” to use troops “to protect the functioning of the government.” (Mr. Rehnquist would be named to the Supreme Court by Mr. Nixon later that year and elevated to chief justice under President Ronald Reagan.)

Mr. Kleindienst faced another obstacle. David Packard, the deputy secretary of defense, pointed out the procedures a president should follow, under the Insurrection Act, in calling forth the military: a formal order that demonstrators disperse and, if they don’t, an executive order to send in troops. Mr. Nixon’s predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, had done this during the riots in Washington in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The White House, however, wanted to keep its involvement under wraps. According to Mr. Haldeman’s diary, Mr. Nixon let Mr. Packard know he wanted troops sent without any public presidential action. The White House spread the fake news that city officials had requested the military help.

<snip>

As criticism mounted that the dragnet was unconstitutional (courts ultimately agreed, awarding detainees millions in damages), Mr. Nixon’s involvement was suspected. The White House denied it. Aides instructed the police chief, Mr. Wilson, to take the heat. “I wish to emphasize the fact that I made all tactical decisions relating to the recent disorders,” he said in a public statement. “I took these steps because I felt they were necessary to protect the safety of law-abiding citizens and to maintain order in the city.” The tapes show Mr. Nixon’s men were delighted.

<snip>

Lawrence Roberts, a former editor at ProPublica and The Washington Post, is the author of “Mayday 1971: A White House at War, a Revolt in the Streets, and the Untold History of America’s Biggest Mass Arrest.”

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Arrow 17 replies Author Time Post
Reply Who Was Behind the Largest Mass Arrest in U.S. History? (Original post)
marble falls Aug 2020 OP
flamin lib Aug 2020 #1
Chin music Aug 2020 #3
flamin lib Aug 2020 #7
Chin music Aug 2020 #11
SamIam715 Aug 2020 #12
flamin lib Aug 2020 #15
SamIam715 Aug 2020 #17
Chin music Aug 2020 #2
marble falls Aug 2020 #5
empedocles Aug 2020 #4
marble falls Aug 2020 #6
murielm99 Aug 2020 #8
marble falls Aug 2020 #9
murielm99 Aug 2020 #10
flamin lib Aug 2020 #13
marble falls Aug 2020 #14
myccrider Aug 2020 #16

Response to marble falls (Original post)

Mon Aug 10, 2020, 11:42 AM

1. I was there, not part of the arrest, but if you search the images you'll

see me. I'm the one wearing green . . .

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Response to flamin lib (Reply #1)


Response to Chin music (Reply #3)

Mon Aug 10, 2020, 12:03 PM

7. Neither, I was part of a CBR team (chemicle/biological/radioactive).

I knew I wouldn't be deployed because 1, the Army deployed tear gas during the Vietnam Moratorium and and closed a hospital and two office buildings and 2. I was deploying micro-pulverized powder that has a 10 year life span and can only be remediated by covering it with heavy oil (basically asphalt).

The green was definitely NOT surplus at the time.

I didn't think they'd draft a guy with one arm longer than the other and I held on to the front porch as long as I could . . .

I will say this tho, those MFers at Fort Dietrich where I got my cert were some really strange dudes.

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Response to flamin lib (Reply #7)


Response to flamin lib (Reply #7)

Mon Aug 10, 2020, 01:11 PM

12. CBR and Dugway Proving Grounds

I grew up in a family of civilians on DPG. I know more than I ever wanted to know about CBR weapons. Remember the killing of Hatch's sheep with nerve gas?

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-death-6000-sheep-spurred-american-debate-chemical-weapons-cold-war-180968717/

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Response to SamIam715 (Reply #12)

Mon Aug 10, 2020, 07:45 PM

15. Yep. The people I dealt with at Ft D were of a different kind than

any I have ever known elsewhere. 1969 was the heyday of Nerve Gas. I had to watch way too much footage of rhesus monkeys to get my certification to disperse CS. Makes ya think maybe Nuclear war may be more humane.

Oh, and CS isn't just a temporary thing that makes you cry a bit. If you can't get clear in a very short time you lose control of all your bodily functions and shortly thereafter you simple die. It's not a harmless non-lethal deterrent if you can't get away from it.

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Response to flamin lib (Reply #15)

Wed Aug 12, 2020, 11:25 AM

17. Monkey

I had a classmate who came to school one day with a black eye. Her step-dad hit her when she felt compassion for the monkeys he was experimenting with. He was furious because the chemicals were taking too long to kill his "specimens" 😳☠️

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Response to marble falls (Original post)


Response to Chin music (Reply #2)

Mon Aug 10, 2020, 11:48 AM

5. "We need leadership, so badly." I was a member of the Mobilization Against the War ...

Getting there was easy getting back to Ohio, not so easy. My ride got busted.

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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Mon Aug 10, 2020, 11:46 AM

4. barr is aware of the nixon precedent


' . . . Mr. Kleindienst overrode their concerns with an opinion from the Justice Department’s legal counsel, William Rehnquist, who had been his protégé in their home state, Arizona. Mr. Rehnquist said the act didn’t apply; the president had “inherent constitutional authority” to use troops “to protect the functioning of the government.” (Mr. Rehnquist would be named to the Supreme Court by Mr. Nixon later that year and elevated to chief justice under President Ronald Reagan.)'

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Response to empedocles (Reply #4)

Mon Aug 10, 2020, 11:51 AM

6. I think Barr is looking for a SCOTUS chair.

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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Mon Aug 10, 2020, 12:18 PM

8. I wasn't there, but I remember it.

It was a badge of honor to have been arrested there. My college student newspaper listed the names of our students who were arrested there.

It was just before I graduated.

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Response to murielm99 (Reply #8)

Mon Aug 10, 2020, 12:23 PM

9. It was a time we felt we could make a chnge.

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Response to marble falls (Reply #9)

Mon Aug 10, 2020, 12:24 PM

10. We have to keep thinking that way.

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Response to marble falls (Reply #9)

Mon Aug 10, 2020, 01:26 PM

13. We

DID make a change. I was on the side of that protest that I did not choose but I went home and told everybody who would listen what was going on with their $$ and their sons/daughters.

I was drafted the last year before the lottery (my number would have been 315, some of this shit ya just remember) and just before I was separated they ended the draft and went all volunteer. In the transition a Lt Colonel gave us enlisted types a talk about how things would change. After he was finished, during Q&A, I said something to the effect that this move had to be a good thing as it would rid career soldiers of a lot of lifers. Boy, did he bristle at that but I was two months short of separation so WTF, bust me I could give a shit. He comes back with, 'At least you know the difference'. Me, full of short timer's attitude came back with, 'Sir, with all due respect and you have respect coming because what you do is a necessary thing, but me I'm goin' home and you're stuck here. The least you deserve is to be surrounded by people like yourself, not somebody riding a gravy train with biscuit wheels'.

I have other thoughts on the importance of short timers and the role they played but that post gets a little long.

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Response to flamin lib (Reply #13)

Mon Aug 10, 2020, 02:21 PM

14. You got the makings of a "greatest" OP right there!

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Response to marble falls (Original post)

Tue Aug 11, 2020, 02:09 AM

16. My first husband was behind that fence.

When he got off the plane that brought him back from Vietnam in early ‘71 the fourth and fifth things he did (after get drunk, get laid & visit his parents) were to join VVAW and start protesting. IIRC the May Day protest was his second one.

We weren’t even dating at that point.

RIP Tom.

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