October 17-18, 1967. Less than a week before the scheduled March on the Pentagon, antiwar protests across the nation have erupted in violence. Abbie Hoffman notwithstanding, the mood is increasingly tense.
In Oakland, California, twenty city blocks have been engulfed in violence after demonstrators block the entrance to a draft induction center, and police respond with an attack that hospitalizes 20 people. Hundreds are arrested, including Joan Baez.
Meanwhile, in Madison, 60 people are injured at protests of the University of Wisconsin’s defense-industry involvement, particularly with Dow Chemical.
Photo and more at the excellent University of Wisconsin archives.
'What do you guys think you're doing?'
'Measuring the Pentagon. We have to see how many people we'll need to form a ring around it.'
'It's very simple. You see, the Pentagon is a symbol of evil in most religions. You're religious, aren't you?'
Well, the only way to to exorcise the evil spirits here is to form a circle around the the Pentagon. 87-88-89….’”
Abbie Hoffman, Revolution for the Hell of It, New York: Simon and Shuster, 1970, p. 47. Image via Wikipedia.
October 11, 1967. LBJ assistant Marvin Watson learns that coordinated demonstrations are being planned for overseas in connection with the October 21 March on the Pentagon. It is a foreshadowing of the extensive overseas and domestic antiwar protests of the years to come.
Memo, Sither to Watson, 10/11/67, #47, “Demonstrations (October 20-21, 1967) [2 of 2],” Office Files of Mildred Stegall, Box 64a, LBJ Presidential Library.
October 1967. Government preparations for the Oct. 21 antiwar march ramp up, amid White House fears that the march will spark city-wide riots. like that summer’s violence in Detroit and Newark.
Despite efforts to identify the root causes of violence, especially after Watts, officials have made little progress on prevention—but they have gotten better at planning responses:
“It was our purpose to hold down the number of arrests, that is, the department’s purpose under the Attorney General. The thinking was that those who were marching on the Pentagon had as their purpose the creation of conditions which would lead to a large number of arrests. The number of arrests was approximately six hundred and seventy-six. That was a large number, but I think it was smaller than perhaps we had feared….
“It gave the federal government a chance to show the nation what orderly processing in a civil disturbance would be. It came not long after the very inadequate processing which was possible in Detroit, for example, where persons were held on buses for substantial periods of time following their arrest….
“One of my assignments was to make backup arrangements for the necessities of life—portable toilets, water, and first aid—in the event march leaders failed to carry out their agreed responsibility to provide such facilities. In fact, they did fail to carry out their responsibilities in that regard, and we had to provide some backup help.”
—-Steven Pollak, First Assistant, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice, in his oral history, page 33-34. Photo: the aftermath of the riots in Detroit, Bentley Image Bank, Bentley Historical Library via the Insititute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.
October 1967. A somewhat different take on the planned demonstrations for October 21, from activist Abbie Hoffman:
"Spiritual purification is sought as an antidote to the demons present in all imperialist war machines. On October 21, in the year 19 and 67, we would launch our holy crusade to cast out the evil spirits dwelling in the Pentagon."
Abbie Hoffman, Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture, New York: Perigree Books, 1980, p 129 Image from the Pentagon web site.
September 16, 1967. LBJ’s assistant Marvin Watson receives this memo notifying him of a planned march on Washington DC for October 21, 1967. At this time, details are sketchy—and most of the information reported in this memo will be proved inaccurate, or, for one reason or another, will not come to pass.
Memo, Sither to Watson, 9/16/67, #70, “Demonstrations (October 20-21, 1967) [2 of 2],” Office Files of Mildred Stegall, Box 64a, LBJ Presidential Library.
October 20, 1967. Lady Bird has a candid conversation with LBJ’s physician, Dr. James Cain, about his health and their future:
"I told him my feelings—that I did not want to go through the grueling six months of a campaign, and that even more, if we should win I did not want to face another four years as devouring as these last four have been….There are so many things I want to do! My list is a mile long. And for the first time in my life I believe that Lyndon, too, could be happy….
"I asked Jim frankly, as a medical man, what advice he could give me. He said, ‘Obviously he has aged. The last four years have taken a lot out of him, But I cannot say, as I think the doctors should have said to FDR when he ran for his fourth term, that he won’t live out this next term….’
"And so the dilemma continues.”
—Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Diary, New York: Dell Books, 1971, pg 643. Photo:A1798-34, 1/24/1966.
Oct. 20, 1967, LBJ and Yuki share a moment in the Oval Office.
LBJ Library photo A5010-10, public domain.
October 19, 1967. LBJ meets with cellist Pablo Casals in the Oval Office.
LBJ Library photo A5003-12, public domain.
Remember, you are killing a man. — Statement made by “Che” Guevara to his executioner as reported in a memo by Dick Helms, 10/13/67, #92a, “Bolivia, Volume 4,” Country File, NSF, Box 8, LBJ Presidential Library. Read the rest of the report containing Guevara’s statements in the Foreign Relations Series of the United States.
October 12, 1967. LBJ sends a telegram to the “Impossible Dream” Boston Red Sox, facing off against the St Louis Cardinals in the final game of the World Series. (Being a consummate politician, LBJ also sent one to the Cardinals.)
"To the Boston Red Sox:
My position imposes neutrality on this fateful day. I will try to restrain my natural sympathy for those who prove the polls wrong. Win or lose, you have won a lasting place in history and our hearts. Good luck to you all. I will be watching with the rest of America and look forward to seeing you.
LYNDON B. JOHNSON
Alas, it was not to be. Sox fans would have to wait a few more years—well, 37 more years—to finally defeat the Cardinals and win the championship.
Photo: Carl Yastrzemski at Fenway Park, via Wikimedia Commons.
October 11, 1967. Richard Helms, Director of Central Intelligence, sends a memo to Walt Rostow confirming the execution of “Che” Guevara in Bolivia.
—Read the memo from the Foreign Relations of the United States Series.
Che Guevara photo from Wikimedia Commons.
October 10, 1967. LBJ and the visiting General Ankrah, Chairman of National Liberation Council of the Republic of Ghana, exchange Head of State gifts. LBJ is wearing Ankrah’s gift of a Kente textile, native to the Akan ethnic group of South Ghana.
LBJ Library photo C6901-23, public domain.