Presidio mutiny


“The Presidio mutiny was a sit-down protest carried out by 27 prisoners at the Presidio stockade in San Francisco, California on October 14, 1968. The stiff sentences given out at court martials for the participants (known as the Presidio 27) attracted attention to the extent of sentiment against the Vietnam War in the armed forces. Two events set the stage for the protest. The first was the death of Richard Bunch, a prisoner in the stockade, who was killed on October 11 with a shotgun blast after walking away from a work detail. That evening there was a vocal protest against the killing. Conditions in the stockade were overcrowded, with up to 140 prisoners housed in a space intended for 88, and there were charges of mistreatment by guards. The protest was set into motion, however, by a group of four AWOL soldiers who turned themselves in the next day at the end of a large anti-war march in San Francisco, where the Presidio is located. The military had made attempts to prevent service members from participating in the march, ordering up mandatory formations and special maneuvers which would keep men on base. Nevertheless, a large contingent of several hundred active duty and reserve servicemen marched at the front of the parade. The four AWOL soldiers (Linden Blake, Keith Mather, Walter Pawlowski, and Randy Rowland), having been put in the stockade, met with prisoners over the weekend and convinced them to participate in a protest over prisoner conditions and against the war. The protest was carried out during the morning formation on Monday the 14th. Twenty-eight prisoners broke ranks and sat in the grass, singing ‘We Shall Overcome‘. One of them returned to ranks when challenged, but the remainder continued to sing, with Pawlowski reading a list of demands. After orders to disperse were ignored, the camp commandant read the articles of mutiny, and eventually the protest was broken up by military police, who removed the protesters one at a time. The protesters were tried in small groups in the spring of 1969, with future star criminal lawyer Brendan Sullivan among the defense counsel. By that time three of the prisoners had escaped. … The Presidio mutiny was the first of a number of protests and riots that drew attention to anti-war dissent within the military. It brought press investigation of the conditions at the stockade and of the situations of the protesters. For example, it was determined that none of those convicted had been given the non-combatant assignment promised by recruiters. …”
Wikipedia
The Presidio Mutiny of 1968
YouTube: Here’s a look at San Francisco’s Presidio Mutiny — 50 years later

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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