Sundial: Columbia SDS Memories–Confronting The Marines, 1967

Chapter 9: Confronting The Marines, 1967 (iv)
On the second day of the April 1967 anti-Marine protest at Columbia, Spectator had a big headline article and front-page photograph on the previous day’s campus violence and the Establishment mass media sent their TV cameramen uptown to try to get film of more campus violence at Columbia to show on the local evening news. The Columbia Administration shifted the site of campus Marine recruitment to the Hartley Hall dormitory, where its NROTC unit office was located, in order to better shield the U.S. Marine recruiters from the wrath of Columbia and Barnard anti-war demonstrators.

Columbia SDS issued a flyer to the 800 anti-war students who showed up, titled “The Way To Organize,” which stated the following [This flyer was also found in the NYPD’s de-classified “Red Squad” files in 1987]:

“We are going to picket in a disciplined, if vocal, manner in the Van Am quadrangle since the Administration has decided to let the Marines recruit in Hartley Hall, home of NROTC.

“We will march several abreast, carrying placards, signs, etc.

“There will be marshalls along the lines of march, giving instructions and keeping order.

“If attacked, try to protect yourself and keep the attacker away from other demonstrators.

“The demonstration will begin and terminate upon the order of Teddy. Listen to him.

“Above all, do not provoke violence. Let us all have dignity.”

Although the right-wing students chanted hostile slogans, and a few individuals unsuccessfully tried to break through the line of anti-war student marshalls to attack the anti-war demonstration, the size of the Columbia SDS demonstration discouraged the “jocks” from repeating their attack of the previous day. What was quite noticeable, also, was how quickly the Establishment’s mass media cameramen rushed to film the right-wing students whenever they started to push at the anti-war student marshalls. It seemed as if the Establishment mass media was attempting to encourage right-wing violence at Columbia in order to project an image of “the trouble” at Columbia being just one of irrational anti-American radical leftists fighting patriotic right-wing Columbia students.

Besides the Establishment mass media reporters, correspondents and cameramen, other Establishment tools observed Columbia SDS activity on April 20th and 21st, 1967. Undercover police spies were starting to take Columbia SDS more seriously and had begun to work more closely with the Columbia Administration in covertly spying on Columbia and Barnard student activists.

The topic of Bureau of Special Services [BOSS] Case #289 M of the NYPD was “Students for a Democratic Society (S.D.S.) Demonstration On The Columbia University Campus In Protest Of The Presence of U.S. Marine Corps Recruiters On Campus.” In an April 20, 1967 memo to the “Red Squad”’s Commanding Officer, William Knapp, the undercover cop reported that “The following people were identified by the assigned as the speakers at the `sundial’ rally:” The police spy then listed the names, local addresses and parent addresses of the student speakers. In paragraph #4, the police spy also listed the names of 30 Columbia students who “were observed by the assigned taking part in the rally and the demonstration and fighting that followed in the dormitory.” All 30 Columbia students whose names were to be listed in police files were anti-war students.

Women leftist students were not considered important enough by the male chauvinist undercover cop in 1967 to have their individual names listed. The undercover cop “interviewed the Head of Security at Columbia” and was told that “uniformed” police were not yet wanted on Columbia’s campus by the Columbia Administration. “Information,” however, was to “be supplied the assigned to further identify the students mentioned” in the police spy’s report.

A final, edited version of this same memo was then transmitted to the Chief Inspector of the Police Department by the Red Squad Commanding Officer Knapp on April 21, 1967, who noted that the students “identified by the assigned as taking part in the demonstration and altercation that followed…have been properly indexed in the files of this command” and that “six copies of this report” were “being forwarded direct to the Operations Unit” of the NYPD.

An April 21, 1967 police spy report listed the names of all 8 speakers and the names, addresses and/or parents’ addresses of 31 Columbia students who “were observed by the assigned taking part in the demonstration in front of Hartley Hall.” The police spy also observed that “again, the administration of Columbia University refrained from calling on the New York City Police Department for aid and refused to use their own uniform patrol to enforce order for fear of creating an incident.” On April 25, 1967, a final, edited version of this report was sent to the Chief Inspector of the Police Department.

Columbia SDS people did not realize how detailed had been the New York police spying on our April 20th and April 21st political activity on campus. Columbia SDS activists underestimated the degree of NYPD activity on campus that would be sanctioned by the Columbia Administration in the late 1960s to eliminate a campus New Left presence which it felt it couldn’t control

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