Rightist Terror Grows


Fifth Estate # 42, November 15-30, 1967

Photo shows a young woman somberly surveying a severely damaged office. Broken furniture and piles of torn paper goods are visible.
Tommye Wiess, Fifth Estate circulation manager, surveys damage left by right-wing vandals at the office of the Detroit Committee to end the War in Vietnam. The office has since been repaired and the anti-war group is continuing its activities. photo: Ollie Anderson

Detroit’s right wing launched a terrorist attack on the offices of the Detroit Committee to End the War in Vietnam early in the morning on October 29.

Dave Chamberlain, chairman of the DCEWV, called the attack “definitely political.” Theft was not the motive. Instead of stealing the typewriters, they were smashed. Further, literature, office supplies and mailing lists were dumped into five separate piles and set afire. Chamberlain estimates the damage in excess of $700.

This act is but one of many that have occurred recently, and it is indicative of what may be expected in the future. Besides the attack against the Committee, other politically motivated attacks have taken place:

* The office of the Fifth Estate was fire-bombed recently.

* The Draft Resistance Committee was forced out of their Highland Park office by their landlord having shots fired through the window.

* The Merit Bookcenter on Harper near Chalmers, was picketed twice by Breakthrough for carrying literature such as the Fifth Estate and the Minority of One.

* The Detroit Journal, which editorially supported black power, had its Gratiot Ave. office burned to the ground by arsonists.

Ernest Mazey, Executive Director of the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union, characterizes these acts as politically inspired and “as an attempt to quell political dissent.” Mazey says, “we can expect more of this unless we catch up with these people and bring them to task.”

Thus far there has been little bringing to task. The Committee, Fifth Estate and Draft Resistors Committee have had little cooperation from the police.

Chamberlain, attempting to report the attack against the Committee, called the police who referred him to the Fire Department’s arson squad. The arson squad was closed for the weekend and Chamberlain was told to call the Police Department again. The police arson squad was also closed for the weekend.

Another reaction to the anti-war movement occurred the last week in October. Don Lobsinger, Chairman of Breakthrough along with one of his inseparable male friends told Sam D’Angelo, co-owner of the Merit Bookstore, to stop selling the Fifth Estate, Militant, Minority of One and other left-wing publications. D’Angelo refused to do so but told them he would put Breakthrough literature on the shelf if they would bring it in.

Lobsinger demanded the bookstore mark certain publications “Communist Literature.” Again D’Angelo refused.

Following this exchange D’Angelo received a number of obscene phone calls and on Saturday, October 21, the bookstore was picketed for the first time. Fighting erupted near the store, D’Angelo said, when a man started pushing his female co-partner. The result of the disturbance was that D’Angelo received four stitches on the head and a friend of his, eleven stitches. D’Angelo’s copartner and her attacker have assault and battery cases pending.

Saturday, November 4, fifty demonstrators were to appear again to picket the bookstore. Instead, there were 3 adults and 7 children.

One of Lobsinger’s objections concerning the Merit Bookstore was that this paper is obscene and should not be sold. Ed Rom, cub reporter, questioned Peter Werbe, co-editor of the Fifth Estate, about the obscenity charge. Werbe’s remarks unfortunately were unprintable.

It has long been thought by the Vietnam war opponents that when opposition to the war grows, a reaction will develop; and that as the war opposition mounts, conversely so will the reaction to it.

Committee chairman Chamberlain has instituted “strict security measures” to safeguard the Committee office. But he looks ahead to when the reaction will grow. He feels the next step in the reaction is the entry of the American Legion and then another McCarthy era. “Other people don’t realize the danger now,” said Chamberlain, “and they won’t until that happens to them.”

Ed. Note: Since it is obvious that the Detroit Police have no intention of stopping these terrorist attacks, it is up to each of us to protect and support the groups and individuals under attack.

The political groups always can use contributions. The Vietnam Committee’s address is 1101 W. Warren, Detroit, 48201; contributions to the Draft Resistance Committee should be sent c/o Wheeler, 1172 W. Hancock, Detroit, 48201; The Fifth Estate may be supported by taking subscriptions or extending your present one; Merit Book Center, Harper near Chalmers, has an excellent selection of books and magazines and East Siders can purchase this paper there.