Political Repression


Fifth Estate # 74, March 5-19, 1969

1969 will undoubtedly be a year which brings increased attacks upon the Movement: the HUAC hearings, the Chicago Grand Jury, and Oakland 7 trial, and repressive actions against GI coffeehouses, are only some of the better publicized incidents of repression and attack on the movement.

The Michigan State Legislature has set up its own little committee (as have several other states) to investigate “breaches of the peace and disorders on university campuses.” Indications are that this committee’s intentions are a broad and general attack upon Movement activity in the state; it is likely that the committee will follow the familiar pattern of using closed hearings, manipulation of the press, subpoenaing of Movement people, threats of legal action, etc., to intimidate and harass Movement activities in the state.

On the night of February 7, the office of the Radical Education Project (REP) and the Michigan regional SDS office were broken into and several important files and records stolen. The two groups believe this robbery—which occurred just a few weeks before the Michigan committee is beginning its work—is related to the coming witch-hunt in the state, and throughout the country.

Consider what was stolen

From REP:

1) address plates from two separate lists, both lists were nation-wide but only Michigan names were taken;

2) financial records for the past eight months;

3) some outgoing mail;

4) part of a card file listing subscribers to the Radicals in the Professions Newsletter;

5) part of a card file listing people dropped from our mailing list.

From SDS:

1) contact card file for the region;

2) financial books and records;

3) correspondence and other lists.

The robbery was a professional job. The method of entry into the office was slick and well done (using glass cutters; taking all fuses out of the fuse box, etc.) More important, whoever carried out the job knew what information they wanted, knew where in the office to get it, knew the nature of the address and card file system, and knew what files to not bother taking.

Nothing was noticeably damaged, although most of the desk drawers, etc., throughout the office had clearly been gone through.

Other movement offices should take note of the ease with which the pigs gained access to the office. They knew what they wanted before they came in, and knew where to look for it—Information that could be gained only from someone who had been in our offices before the break-in. Now that repression is coming down on us, our consciousness of security must increase.

An attack upon REP, SDS, and the Movement in Michigan has, of course, much wider implications than repression in just this state. Politically, the repression in Michigan is part of a larger, national picture that is beginning to emerge only too clearly. We know that our best defense is a unified, political attack upon the sources of repression both here and in California, Kentucky, Illinois, Texas, and elsewhere.