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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 3,780

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I was "illegally detained" by the D.C. police during the 1971 Mayday demonstration against the War

(reposted from a DU2 discussion of civil disobedience : http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=389&topic_id=5853801&mesg_id=5856376)

At least that's how the Federal courts ruled when the ACLU filed suit afterward - the result of a "criminal conspiracy" between Nixon's top aides and the D.C. police chief to "violate the civil rights of demonstrators". On the one hand I wasn't doing anything illegal when they caught me and they didn't follow legal arrest procedure, but on the other hand I had just spent most of the morning deliberately obstructing traffic as part of a civil disobedience action. I found out later that the police had orders to arrest any male under 30 who wasn't wearing a necktie.

At the time I was just trying to stop the slaughter that was going on every day in Viet-Nam, but years later Daniel Ellsberg revealed that Nixon was plotting a nuclear attack and that this demonstration deterred him into postponing it until after the election for fear of the political backlash. By that time he was preoccupied with the unraveling Watergate cover-up. (Details are spelled out in his introduction to the New York Times edition of the Pentagon Papers.)

Leaks from White House staff later revealed that Nixon disregarded the 500,000 person legal protest march the week before as "commuters" who weren't seriously committed, but that 10,000 people committing civil disobedience in the streets of Washington seriously shook him up with the prospect of a real political rebellion.
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