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June 10, 2024 44 mins

Mia talks with James and Gare about the riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and their part in the Great Uprising that stretched from 1963-1972.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
All zone media.

Speaker 2 (00:04):
It's's riot time when it could happen here. This is
this is the podcast that you're listening to. It's about
this is this one's kind of about bad things. This
is this is about a bunch of riots in the past.
I'm your host to be along with Vus James and
Garrison Hello harming. So one of the kind of I

(00:25):
don't know, the trends of twenty twenty four is everyone
looking at this year and going this is nineteen sixty eight. Again,
there's campus occupations or that are anti war protests. There
is a Democratic National Convention that is expected to be
extremely hot.

Speaker 3 (00:38):
And so one of one of the things that we are.

Speaker 2 (00:40):
Doing in the run up to the Democratic Convention is
we are going to go do some episodes about nineteen
sixty eight, and we are eventually going to do episodes
about like the Columbia campus occupations and about the DNC.
But unfortunately, in order to do that, we have to
why I say, unfortunately, this is actually not unfortunately, this
this mostly rules. I don't know, some of it's bad.

(01:04):
But in order to talk about this and this is
this is the part of this whole thing that has
been completely forgotten right. You know, there's there's become this
kind of like I don't know, state cult isn't quite
the right word, but there's become this sort of like
professional institutional history of nineteen sixty eight, where like all
of these universities like proudly have banners from like nineteen

(01:25):
sixty eight protests. Everyone has been like, you know, incredibly
willing to embrace the legacy of the anti war movements
and the Captus occupations, and you know, like insofar as
they tell people not to embrace things, it's this stuff
about like you know, you hear this constant screaming about
don't repeat the sixty eight convention. But there's one part
of this story that has is just gone, has been

(01:47):
excised from the historical record. It is extremely clear that
no one wants you to remember it whatsoever, and that
is the Holy Week Uprising.

Speaker 3 (01:55):
Do you two know have you too heard of the
Holy Week Uprising? Not before you started talking about it
in our work meetings.

Speaker 4 (02:04):
I'm familiar with it. I've covered in US history Ghosroughs before.
Not as that name. I think people might be more
familiar with they be described the events.

Speaker 2 (02:13):
Yeah, So the other name for is the MLK riots,
which is a week I mean, okay, so it's okay, yeah, yeah, okay, yeah,
so okay, so and I should be clear about this. Okay,
So there are there are really two things going on here.
There is one the actually it's usually thought of it
was about a week, but it's it's actually longer than that.

(02:33):
There's like a couple of months of writing in various
places over the sascination of MLK. The other thing that's
going on here is a wave of urban rebellion. And
when I say urban here, I'm not just talking about
you know, like Watts or Detroit or Chicago, like these
like giant urban cities, which is which is how you know,

(02:54):
insofar as anyone ever talks about writing in this period
is about these large urban centers. No, they are right
in Milwaukee. The most intense fighting that we're going to
talk about in this episode happens in York, Pennsylvania. In
this period for about is about nineteen sixty three to
roughly by nineteen seventy one seventy two was kind of over.

(03:17):
There are a staggering number of urban uprisings. I'm going
I'm going to read a quote from a book called
the Great Uprising, which is about this sort of period.
Between nineteen sixty three and nineteen seventy two, America experienced
over seven hundred and fifty urban revolts. Upwards of five
hundred and twenty five cities were affected, including nearly every

(03:39):
one with a black population over fifty thousand. The two
largest wave of uprisings came during the summer of nineteen
sixty seven entry in Holy Week in nineteen sixty eight,
following the assassination of Martin Luther King Junior. In these
two years alone, one hundred and twenty five people were killed,
nearly seven thousand were injured, approximately forty five thousand arrests
were made, and property damage top one hundred and twenty

(04:01):
seven million dollars or approximately nine hundred million and twenty
seventeen dollars.

Speaker 4 (04:06):
If you can even stretch this out to like, can
I just give you the Spain and I put on
this in my history class, and then and then we
can we can continue. Yeah, Okay. So the way I
perceive this is the process of decolonization begins like in
the colonies, and it comes back to the metropol right,
and we see like this physical decolonization in places like Algeria, right,

(04:27):
and then the impact of witnessing that returns to the
metropol along with the theories that like, if you want
to say they declonize the mind, I think that that's
an acceptable way. And like this sort of struggle and
even the esthetic, right, like the aesthetic of the Battle
of algieas is present in some of these uprisings, like
and then you can stretch it out to like, you know,

(04:49):
I like to talk about Winded NYE, but the second
occupation of Winded Nee in nineteen seventy three, I think
you could also see that as part of this decolonization struggle.
At least that's my uh, yeah, that's my angle on it.

Speaker 2 (05:00):
Yeah, And I think there's definitely a lot of like,
I don't know, there's a lot of inspiration taken there.
I think the way it's usually seen in the US
is as this is the sort of I don't know,
it's kind of as it's seen as is kind of
this is where everything went off the rails after the
Civil rights movement, which isn't what happens. Yeah, And the
other way I think this is seen and this is

(05:21):
I don't know, a lens that is kind of useful
to talk about this, but kind of isn't is about
the sort of quote unquote long nineteen sixty eight, So
you know, we're gonna be covering a lot of nineteen
sixty eight stuff on this show, you know, so like
there's obviously this nineteen sixty eight in France. I think
if you want to look at the origin point of

(05:44):
the sort of like wave uprisings that are specifically nineteen
sixty eight and that aren't sort of like the decolonization arc,
I think it probably starts in China with the January
Storm in nineteen sixty seven. But on the other hand,
sort of and this is you know, one of the
things about this period is everything is happening so much

(06:04):
at the same time, right, Like we have a lot
of experience about this, but like you know, as the
January Storm, the January Storm is as part of the
Culture Revolution where Mao kind of loses control and Mao
kind of incites a bunch of these like a bunch
of workers in Shanghai to like take the city. But
then they actually take the city and they run the

(06:24):
party out, they run the pla out, and for a
brief period of time, Shanghai like has just been taken
by its working class and is not being run by
the party, and there's this whole, like you know, massive
series of struggles and kind of struggles. But the thing
that the think about the sort of the way succeed
is understood is you know, even some people even include that,
but these riots, specifically the Holy Week riots are almost

(06:46):
never talked about as as part of this process, which
I think they obviously are, and I think, you know,
part of the reason that we're talking about them now
is that you can't understand the Columbia campus occupations. You
can't understand the kind of politics that's going to come
after that, you can't understand the and see, you can't
understand like the rise of black radicalism. Like none of

(07:07):
this is comprehensible at all unless you understand these riots,
because this was the uprising that sort of kicked everything off.
It's also this is a very hard thing to write
about because like this, I've had the time of my
life trying to put this together because this thing should
be like thirty five hours, and I don't have thirty
five hours. I have thirty minutes. So that being said,

(07:28):
let's get into why these are happening. So obviously there
is the civil rights movement happening. You know, nineteen sixty
five you get, you get the Voting Rights Act. We've
had some civil rights acts. But comma, if you are
like you are a part of the black working class
in nineteen cities of America, a society is still unbelievably racist.

(07:49):
Like they're like, you know, like on on a very
basic level, there's a bunch of people walking around calling
you the N word. You are restricted to the shittiest
jobs available, assuming you can find work at all. One
of the biggest ones. And this is something that this
is something that was a very big focus of the
kind of later civil rights umit that kind of has
been a race for historical memory was struggle over housing.

(08:10):
I'm going to read another thing from the Great Uprising
SNCC field worker John Baptiste, who took over for Robinson
and Hanson, described many of the homes in the Second War.
This is in Cambridge, which is one of the places
where those really intense rioting. Both we'll talk about this
in a little bit, but both in sixty three and
in sixty seven describe many of the homes in the

(08:32):
Second Ward as nothing more than converted horse barns, corn cribs,
and company shacks, which lacked hot, running water, flush toilets,
and electricity. Separate and independent investigations by federal officials confirmed
Betista's claims. We were shown block after block of tottering,
single family frame structures, often lined along dirt roads and

(08:55):
generally with little or no setback, which is like they're
like directly on the street, right, you open your door
and you're on the street, crowded almost against each other,
and on small lots, sometimes of no more than fifty
or sixty foot depth, reported one US Department of Housing
and Urban Development official. These dwellings were obviously obsolete and
in disrepair, with tumbling porches and steps. Many were without

(09:18):
inside toilets, and in several instances, the outside privy served
more than one family. Hot water is rarely available, and
several are without inside water. Overcrowding is a common pattern.
So you know, this is the kind of like this,
this is one of the centers of these struggles. So
these people are living in like nineteen thirties barns and this,

(09:41):
you know, there is there was a sort of staggering
amount of anger about this, and the other aspect of
this is that you know, okay, so these people are
living in like places that are not fit human habitation. Also,
they are on average fifty six percent more of their
income goes to rent than white than Why then white
people paid a rent, which means that you know, and

(10:03):
and this this is also one of the things that's
happening in this period is that there's a bunch of
money for like white people that the government is giving them,
are giving people sort of loans and subsidies and tax
credits to go buy houses. None of this is happening
for black people. So what you have is a situation
where like if you are black, basically all of your
money is being absorbed into rents. There is no possibility

(10:24):
of you like saving or you know, like saving to
buy a house, like other than the sort of like
ramshackle shit that you're in, Like the conventional civil rights movement,
right you're sort of like non violent marches. This hasn't
done shit to deal with any of these problems. You're
also dealing with really really intense labor discrimination, you know,

(10:46):
and I mean these are things like like there's this
kind of like example in Baltimore where you know, you'll
you'll you'll have union locals that are literally all white locals, right,
and they will they will cut these deals with management
where they will be like, well, management will hands like
hiring and firing power over to the unions, and the
unions go, oh great, okay, and this this is a
negotiated thing between the two. The unions are like, okay,

(11:08):
only unions can work at only union members can work
at the shop, which in theory is good. But in
practice what this means is because these are all white unions, right,
they've they've now created a system by which you can,
by which you can just not hire black people.

Speaker 1 (11:19):
Ever.

Speaker 4 (11:20):
Yeah, the Brianna wu method. Oh god, yeah, you know
it's a reference to a terrible tweet I hopefy people
haven't seen.

Speaker 3 (11:28):
Oh god. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (11:31):
And you know the other things that are sort of
happening here, right, is so in theory desegregation is supposed
to be happening. In practice, that shit is not happening.
People are making people are doing these like you know,
like white progressors are giving these speeches about how like, ah,
segregation is like ending where we're like integrating quickly, and

(11:52):
it's not happening, and all of this kind of you know,
all of this sort of fuel and also and obviously
the sort of immediate spark of a lot of a
lot of these uprisings, So particularly in sixty seven, is
that as as happens today, you know, you all statistically
have lived I don't know why I was satistically, all
of you have.

Speaker 3 (12:11):
Lived through this.

Speaker 2 (12:12):
All of you probably have been to at least one
protest that is this is that the coptious murder people
and all of this sets off a set of kindling
and is going to lead to a simply staggering wave
of uprisings.

Speaker 3 (12:29):
But first, do you know what I.

Speaker 2 (12:30):
Won't lead to us a simply staggering set of uprisings
if you buy them.

Speaker 4 (12:35):
It's the production and consumption of created needs, as described
by Herbert Mark Cuser.

Speaker 3 (12:41):
That's right, James, Yes, or more on that.

Speaker 4 (12:44):
Here's these ads.

Speaker 2 (12:57):
So we are back, all right, So let's start actually
talking about some of these riots. Okay, So I've mentioned
before that these riots are happening in a lot of
places that are not like that are not typically considered.
And we're actually not gonna talk sort of sunningly for
thinking about this. We're not going to talk about the
Watts Riots, which are probably the biggest and most famous

(13:17):
of the riots in this period. We're not going to
talk about Detroit either, even though that was another really
big one, because you know, you you can go out
and you can find a bunch of people kind of
talking about these. We are going to start in Omaha.
Where begin Yeah, Like but again, this this is something
that's very important is that this is not just a

(13:39):
sort of uprising of the urban ghettos, which is which
is how it's like very explicit. This is literally the
language that is used at this time to describe what's
happening here. But like, no, this is happening in a
bund Like again, Cincinnati and Omaha is interesting because it
has one of the a very very common one of
the other big sort of rallying points in this era

(14:00):
is price gouging. So you know, if you're if you're
in one of these like ninety nine percent black communities,
like the one, like the one white person who is
there is the shop owner. And the thing the shop
owner is doing is the shop owner is gouging you
for food because you don't you know, you don't have
any other options to buy for you from, so they're
going to gouge you, and they're going to give you
like the worst products you can ever you've ever seen

(14:20):
in your life. And so by many sixty six people
are just fed up with this. There start there start
to be sort of protests, like specifically at these white stores,
there's a bunch of people, you know, throwing rocks.

Speaker 1 (14:31):
At the cops.

Speaker 3 (14:32):
Yeah, and so you know, so, I mean, okay.

Speaker 2 (14:34):
The other thing that's very important to understand about these
places is that these riots don't just start out of nowhere, right.
These are mostly places where there have been existing civil
rights movements and they kind of just ran into a
stone wall, you know. One of the big things in
this period too, and this is something that like like
you know, this is what MLK and the Poor People's
Campaign was sort of working on at the same time,

(14:55):
was you know, these these these demands for job programs,
and so people are you know, marching round, they doing
like pickets. Omaha, Like has a Malcolm X come speak
at one point and he's talking about like, you know,
like the youth these protests and people like marching outside
of Safeway saying like we want jobs. And these protests
start getting attacked by the police, and this is something

(15:18):
that you know, this is something that that has been
happening to these nonviolent sit ins. I'm going to read
a passage from the book. Then the burnings began from there,
Omaha police Wallace's quote unquote goon squad and spectators began
to beat the protesters out of the auditorium using batons
and metal folding chairs. Reeling from the attacks, African American
youth retaliated in the streets. So like like they'll be

(15:40):
in meetings with community with like like the mayor or whatever,
and these fucking mobs will start just beating people with chairs.
The goon squad, you say, yeah, God reminds me of
the we've been running ads to free down at Peltier
a week.

Speaker 4 (15:57):
But the guardians of the Agglala Nation, but like thet's
literally call themselves the goons. I'm guessing the people, not
the people participating in this particular beat. Non many such
cases in this area.

Speaker 2 (16:10):
Yeah, and this gets to another aspect of these of
these riots is that a lot of them aren't started
by rioters. They're started by a bunch of like a
white mob showing up and attacking people. And so you know,
in Omaha. And this is something that we're going to
see a lot. Uh. That is something that kind of
doesn't happen as much now, is like they just the

(16:30):
cops just fucking kill people the streets from protests are
happening in Omaha. They like they just they murder a
kid with a riot gun. And this, you know, this
sets off like as sort of you know the patterns
that Worshire visa seeing of like these sort of escalating riots.
And this is a very kind of familiar riot, right,
Like I think we've all we've all had the like, Okay,

(16:50):
so the police attacked a bunch of people, so it caused.

Speaker 4 (16:52):
A riot kind of thing. Yeah, so now a riot starts.

Speaker 2 (16:55):
Yeah, And this is this is a relatively non violent riot,
which is to say that people are mostly throwing stones
and molotovs. That is absolutely not true of a huge
amount of the rest of these riots, and particularly as
we sort of get closer to Holy Week. Something that
is very important about the sixty eight riots that is
not true about any riots that we've ever lived through

(17:18):
is that not only are people extremely well armed, they
are the state's monopoly on violence in nineteen sixty eight
is nowhere near as powerful as it is now. People
will just fucking shoot. And one of the constant things
you read about when you're reading about these riots is
that is, you know, every police account has police like
screaming about snipers, and like I didn't believe this, right,

(17:40):
because I was reading this, I was like, Okay, whatever
other police, right, they talk about snipers all the time.
You see this in radical accounts too, where people will
talk about like, well, yeah, like the National Guard and
Watts will be talking about how they're taking sniper fires
so they'll start shooting machine guns and like the rus
of build at buildings.

Speaker 3 (17:53):
Right, But.

Speaker 2 (17:56):
Like this was real, people actually were like doing this,
and you know I was, I was really sort of
like like on the on the fence about this, like
what's this actually happening? And then the next thing I
read was an interview with a guy who'd been a
black nationalist and starts talking about how they they were
using all of their dynamite stores and how they didn't
have fuses for the dynamites so they had to like

(18:18):
they had to plant the dynamite and then retreat across
the sheet to shoot at the dynamite.

Speaker 3 (18:21):
So the dynamite would go off.

Speaker 4 (18:23):
That sounds like a fun exercise.

Speaker 3 (18:27):
Yeah, it was.

Speaker 2 (18:27):
It was nuts. It was like the kind of stuff
these people were doing is sort of just really it's
really staggering.

Speaker 4 (18:36):
Like you say, the state just didn't have that same
monopoly on violence like that there was. It didn't have
the overwhelmed cops, didn't have like the overwhelming force that
they do now, that they didn't possess tanks, and like
it was a lot harder to trace gun purchases in
nineteen sixties because not everyone used credit cards. So it
made it a whole lot easier for folks to have
and keep guns.

Speaker 3 (18:55):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (18:55):
Well the other thing is, like, you know, this is
something that that in some of the this is something
that played into some of the NAACP like chapters in
the South that were the sort of like black working
class chapters. Is that like so if you were if
you were an NRA chapter, you could just buy at
a really cheap bulk rate like surplus M one garrens
from the US Army and AMMO, and they would just

(19:15):
sell it to you.

Speaker 4 (19:16):
Yeah, you can still buy them at a pretty cheap
rate through the CMP. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (19:20):
Yeah, but you could buy like like really large quantities
of them as long as you were sort of like,
you know, there was this kind of like popular like
popular like gun marksman culture that we don't like we
have been in, like our gun culture is kind of insane,
and this was like a very different thing from there.

Speaker 4 (19:37):
Yeah, definitely, And you had like like Rob Williams was
the the are you failure with Rob Williams? Yeah, yeah,
he wrote a book called Negros with Guns. He was
the he was the leader of the NRA chapter right
in Monroe. But then yeah, also a member of the NAACP, which,
like the NRA has has has pivoted a long way

(19:57):
from what it was.

Speaker 2 (19:58):
Yeah. Yeah, Well, in part of what's happening here is
people are just kind of like picking up whatever institution
they have and using it to.

Speaker 3 (20:04):
Like build a movement a tool.

Speaker 4 (20:05):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (20:06):
Yeah, So all right, we're gonna we're gonna move on
from Omaha and Cincinnati, like you know, so we're we're
we're gonna start talking about some of the I guess
you'd call like the uprising proper. So I guess before
we fully head into this, it should be noted that
there's it's generally you know, I talked about this before.

(20:26):
There's generally the way these riots are understood is as
a thing that is discontinuous from the civil rights movement,
and that's just not true. A lot of the civil
rights movement, like things that people now think of as
like non violent campaigns, weren't like a lot of the
stuff in uh oh my fucking Like a lot of
a lot of the fights in Louisiana like are just
straight up riots.

Speaker 1 (20:47):
Yeah.

Speaker 2 (20:47):
And one of the important sort of bridge figures here
is Gloria Richardson, who's I wish we could do like
an entire episode about her right now, but that'll have
to wait till later. She is, she's a civil rights
activist in Cambridge and her movement, and it's like, you know,
like she is in a lot of ways that like
kind of dedicated non violence, but she's very explicit that
we're going to do armed self defense and a lot

(21:07):
of the stuff that she leaves, I mean, this is
you know, getting back to like nineteen sixty three. Like
the civil rights stuff that she's doing is extremely effective
and a lot of it is just straight up riots,
to the point where like there's a very famous thing
for the civil rights era are called the Treaty of Cambridge,
where like she and her people agreed to like stop
rioting and the city agreed to completely integrate. But by

(21:29):
the time he gets to nineteen sixty seven, they haven't
done it. And so the riots started off in Cambridge again.
And you have this incredibly sort of hot like summer.
Over the course of ninety sixty seven, there's this like
enormous wave of riots and you know, a Cambridge's famous one,
but like Detroit's another big one. And this, I don't know,

(21:50):
this should have given people warning that there there would be,
you know, giant uprisings if anyone did anything to MLKA,
but apparently it didn't. And you know, I, you know
what else I won't I don't know, set off have
already used the you know what else won't set off
massive waves of uprisings pivot. I really didn't prepare good

(22:10):
enough pivots for this.

Speaker 4 (22:13):
What weren't assassinated civil rights leader.

Speaker 2 (22:16):
We can't promise that, We really cannot promise them. Now.

Speaker 3 (22:21):
Companies would never do anything like that. That's what he
is talking about, Dave.

Speaker 4 (22:25):
Certainly not the mail kit delivery Savice that we can't
mentioned by.

Speaker 3 (22:28):
Name, all right, we are back. So all right, it is.

Speaker 2 (22:43):
Now officially timed for Holy so on April fourth, nineteen
sixty eight, MLK is giving is you know, like he
is preparing to support a bunch of striking sanitation workers
and they fucking kill him. Who the they is is
kind of unclear. Mlka's family later sued the US government
to make the government prove that they didn't have they

(23:03):
weren't involved in the assassination. The government paid them one
dollar instead, So you know, make of that what you will.
But what did happen is that you know, he was
he was killed by white people. And this this detonates
a fucking nuclear weapon in the US, you know, reading accounts,
to me, it reminds me of the first week of

(23:28):
the George Floyd uprisings in twenty two And I want
people remember this. There's this picture of this guy in
Philly with an Almo like we wearing like an Elmo
like head, and he has his fist rays and he's
standing in front of a bunch of things of fire
like this. This is what this is what that looks like.
I'm going to read a quote from one of the
people who was people who was there. I mean I
was sad when I first heard the news of King's death,

(23:49):
but not but not like the world around me. The
city was burning and I'm walking through the city and
the city is burning, and that's what we wanted.

Speaker 3 (23:56):
This was our time. I mean, fire all around my house.

Speaker 2 (23:59):
I mean my house almost got caught on fire when
I was living because Seventh Street, the whole block was burning,
and it was just we thought we were in a
war again.

Speaker 3 (24:07):
Simple. Simple.

Speaker 2 (24:10):
One of the interesting parts about this is that a
lot of civil rights leaders, and this is not just
true of like obviously the moderate civil rights leaders are
trying to tell people not to riot, but even like
Stokesly Carmichael like comes out to the crowd and tries
to go like, please don't like, don't riot, don't do this,
and the crowd.

Speaker 3 (24:25):
Basically tells him to fuck off and does it.

Speaker 2 (24:27):
Anyways, And the fact that they killed Mlka, who was
you know, Mlka was, I mean, like, even at that time,
like the sort of living human symbol of nonviolence, right,
but he was also the symbol of sort of cooperation,
of this belief that you know, you could you could

(24:47):
do sort of peaceful that you do, peaceful integration. This
is something that MLK is kind of like even he's
kind of getting cynical about by by sixty eight. But
the fact that they killed him, it it is, it
is a kind of psychological blow that I don't think
we've ever experienced. Like maybe maybe if you took like,

(25:11):
if you took like Trump's election, like at the same
time as a twenty twenty uprising, that like maybe maybe
kind of captures what people are feeling in this moment.
And I want to read another account. I want to
read an account that's it's it's it's sort of secondhand
account by this priest. It's like a Catholic priest in

(25:33):
a largely black area. This is from the Great Uprising.
Yet other observers saw the uprising as a clear protest
against the persistence of racial inequality. Father Richard Lawrence, an
activist priest whose Catholic parish served many blacks, recalled encountering
one of his parishioners on the street after the revolt
had begun. Father, you don't understand. I know you've been

(25:56):
with the demonstrations and all that sort of thing, the
parishioner explained to Lawrence, But you were born white and
you can't really totally understand. I mean, I've done the
civil rights thing too, you know it. I've been there.
I've been to the marches, I've been to the rallies,
you name it. Nobody's listening. His parishioner continued, murdering doctor
King was just the last straw that nobody's listening. We

(26:17):
can go on demonstrating as long as we want, no
one will listen. I don't know what to try next,
but maybe blood flowing in the streets is what it takes.
Maybe some of his blood with some of my blood
flows in the streets, then maybe the man will listen.
Maybe not, but I've got nothing left to try. I
don't care if I got killed. I've got two kids
and I'm not going to have them come up in

(26:37):
the world. I came up up and I'm just not
going to have it. And this is I think a
really important part of these riots is that these are
people who had fought, who had fought for a decade
over it. I mean, there's this point, it's about a
decade and a half of struggle. They've done everything. They've
done strikes, they've done boycotts, they've done sit ins, they've voted,

(26:58):
they got the right to vote, right, they march, they
did civil disobedience, and you know the product of this
is that they're living in a dilapidated house with a
shitty job, and then they fucking killed MLK and the
country burns. The National Guard straight up is there are
there are there are like there are just straight up

(27:18):
military occupations in an enormous number of cities. DC is
occupied by like the five hundred and third Military Police Battalion,
the National Guard, and famously the eighty second Airborne. So
like the regular US army is being sent into to
like to like is being sent into these cities. The
level of sort of burning here too. And this is
the thing that's I think kind of the most famous

(27:40):
part of these riots is they burn staggering parts of cities.
There are I mean, just like unbelievable numbers of buildings
are burned, and people people sort of people, people go
out to fight. People are people are shooting at the police,
the police are shooting back at them. I mean, there's
I wasn't to find the footage one of my friends

(28:01):
was telling me about, like there's there's footage from newspeople
in New York. I like a guy shooting out side
of a window, and they have footage of like a
police like swat team. Basically I think it's like still
pre swap, like a police like team coming in just
killing him. And you know, I mean Richard M. Daley
famously that has a who's the mayor of Chicago, has

(28:23):
a shoot to kill order. You know, his his words are,
quote shoot to kill any arsonists or anyone with a
Molotov cocktail, and quote shoot to cripple or maim anyone
looting any stores in our city. Jesus, It's really fucking bad.
And you know, this is something that's that's about about
these these riots, right Like, Okay, if if you look
at even the Watch riot, or if you look at

(28:45):
twenty twenty, if you look at like twenty fourteen, like
the Baltimore uprising in twenty fifteen, there are like people
having a good time. Like this is always the thing
in riots. There's always like someone who's like having a
great time. Fucking no one. I read like dozens and
and dozens of interviews of people from people from the
Holy Week up pressing every single person involved in this

(29:05):
is having the absolute worst time of their lives. That's
like on every single side, right that everyone is fucking miserable,
and you know, but but part part of what's happening
here too is these are these these uprisings are also
about Vietnam because you know, a lot of these people
either have been sent to Vietnam or like their families
have been sent to Vietnam. Black people are dying at

(29:26):
an unbelievable rate in Vietnam, and these people come back
and they're like, well, we're gonna fucking die anyway, So
I rather die. I'd rather go out fighting the cops than,
you know, than than dying in Vietnam. And also, you
know what I've been talking a lot about kind of
like the stipers in the windows, but one of the
most common ways people get killed, well, okay, probably the

(29:48):
most common ways they get trapped into burning building, which
is terrible. But one of the other really common ways
is that these are these are gun fights. You know,
we kind of saw this in twenty twenty. There's a
bunch there are like white store owners are like popping
out of their businesses to take pot shots at a protesters,
and like they're they're you know, one of the people
that they interviewed was a guy who had been like

(30:08):
walking past a store and the guy had pulled out
a gun and shot him, and he had he had
managed shop, but the guy next to him got shopped,
so if he took out a molotov and like burned
the store down. And this is a lot of the
kind of dynamics of this, right are, Like it's not
just that people are furious. It's not just the people
sort of you know, like people want this world to burn.
It's that like they are very directly responding to the

(30:31):
fact that the like white people also fucking lose their
minds when this starts happening, and you you get this
degree of sort of of urban conflict that kind of
you know, we don't really have this now, no, he yeah,
Like like even even our riots are like largely nonviolent,

(30:52):
like people don't shoot it out with the cops or
each other in the same way that like, you know,
like like it happens sometimes like this is happening fucking
all over the country. Like this is happening in like
like like you know, like like fucking small ass cities
in the Midwest. There are people getting in gunfights, right,
you know, And so eventually.

Speaker 4 (31:15):
So okay.

Speaker 2 (31:16):
So the other very important thing about this that is
that's really interesting and not marked upon very much is
that Okay, so like obviously the police in Chicago go
fucking feral, right, the National Guard commanders come in and
like the General of the National Guard goes, okay, you motherfuckers,
you're gonna kill someone. None of you are allowed to

(31:38):
have loaded weapons. You're allowed to have loaded weapons. And
I mean these guys, I'll say, like they have bayonets
on their rifles.

Speaker 4 (31:44):
This used to be a thing, like they used bayonets
as a form of like like a less special weapon.

Speaker 2 (31:50):
They just fucking stab you with a beta and know
they their baynatural order to be covered. And because of this,
the Guard doesn't actually kill anyone tan this dream the
sixty eight rides, unlike the sixty seven rides where they
fucking were a bunch of people. And this was a
really smart decision by the National Guard people because if
they had started actually shooting into these crowds like this

(32:10):
wouldn't have been one week of really intense rioting that
ends with the civil rights sack, which we'll talk about, well,
it doesn't end with the civil right sack, but like,
you know, it could have sort of gets that this
would have been like apocalyptic on a scale that I
don't think anyone kind of like has the capacity to imagine.
But instead they kind of, you know, there's really intense riots,

(32:33):
they kind of they kind of wind.

Speaker 3 (32:36):
Down over the course of a couple of months.

Speaker 2 (32:38):
And like they kind of they wind down faster in
a lot of ways than twenty twenty did.

Speaker 3 (32:45):
But on the other hand, that is not the end
of these riots.

Speaker 2 (32:49):
And the thing I want to close this episode on
while we're going to talk about I feel okay, let's
talk about the Civil Rights Ack first, because it is
a very very weird piece of legislation. So, like five
days in now seven a weekend to the riots, Congress
passes the Civil Rights Act of nineteen sixty eight. And
this is a very very weird piece of legislation. I mean,

(33:12):
it's obviously this is something that's been like frantically like
scrambled out because like this, you know, the like there
are just straight up armed uprisings in a huge portion
of the United States, and Congress's responses, so they passed
the Fair Housing Act. That's like that's probably the most
famous part of this bill.

Speaker 3 (33:30):
It is very I mean it it has done.

Speaker 2 (33:34):
It's not like a perfect piece of legislation, but it
has done a staggering amount of good, right, and it
is in some sense a direct answer to the protesters demands, right,
like it does improve discrimination of sort of housing. But
it's also okay, there's a bunch of stuff about the
Bill of Rights applying to Indigenous people that is good,

(33:55):
but we'll cover that. I don't know, maybe if we
do an aim occupation episode about that more later.

Speaker 3 (34:00):
That's kind of.

Speaker 2 (34:02):
Outside the scope of this one. But the other part
of it is this absolutely deranged like conspiracy thing about
like because like the so the line you know the
line here as it wasn't twenty twenty. So this is
all being caused by outside agitators. So part of this
thing is what's known as the Riot Act, which is

(34:24):
it bans like quote travel and interstate commerce with the
intent to incite, promote, engage, to participate in or carry
out a riot. It's not used very much, but this
is like straight up a conspiracy theory. Right, So it's
a conspiracy theory about what happened in the nineteen sixty
seven uprising in Cambridge. So like that that uprising, Like

(34:46):
that's the thing that produced Spireau Agnew, who was like
Nixon's deranged VP, who Nixon picked to be so deranged
that no one would assassinate him becausessassinating him will put
spuiau Agnue in charge, like Agnew had been like a limp,
like he'd been a liberal Republican. But then there were
these riots in Cambridge sixty eight in sixty seven, and
the narrative that comes out of it is what happened

(35:08):
was a black power leader named h. H Rat Brown
came in and gave a speech and then there was
like riots, right, and this is this is the standard
line for like seventy years. What actually happened was that
he gave you know, Rap gives it Rep Brown age.
Rep Brown gives a very militant speech, right, Like he
does give a speech telling people to burn a school down,
like he's saying you need to like five people. But
then everyone just goes home, as h Rap Brown is is,

(35:31):
you know, they're like dispersing this young woman asked to
be escort at home just and get beat up by
the police, and so Hrap Brown thirty people are like okay,
and so they try to go home and the police
walk up to them and start shooting them with shotguns.

Speaker 3 (35:44):
H Rap, Brown gets hit by a sucking drackgun blast
and that that is the book.

Speaker 2 (35:48):
It was after that that the rioting started, right, So, yeah,
so that's what actually happened.

Speaker 3 (35:53):
But but the memory of it is that it was like, oh,
like these these like these.

Speaker 2 (35:56):
Black nationalists came in and they started this riot, and
like this literal is now law in the US, and
this is this is very famously. At the end of
this episode, we're going to talk about who this was
used against. But before wanting to do that, I need
to make it clear that these riots don't end in
sixty eight, right, And in fact, I think the one
that is the most intensive these is York in New

(36:18):
York or Pennsylvania, which I promise you the beginning of
this episode we were going to do, and that is
in nineteen sixty nine. Because again, like the conditions that
cause these erb and uprisings like haven't changed. So you know,
like the the immediate flames of sort of like of
the Holy Week uprising, like of this rebellion by MLK
sort of you know eventually trickle out, but there's just

(36:39):
more of them.

Speaker 3 (36:40):
So this this is another one one of.

Speaker 2 (36:42):
The things you come across when you research this is
that like every single the conventional like accepted public narrative,
but why these started, they're all wrong this one. So
it's generally attributed to this black kid lying but being
set on fire and like that did happen, but this
kid's like fourteen, right, But what actually happened was that
there were two black guys talking to a black police officer,

(37:03):
and two members of this like white power white supremacist
street gang like walked up and shot them both. And
this kicks off a series of shootings, brickings, and fistfights
between black and white people like all over the city.
And this is a kind of this is also the
other kind of right in this period, and like we
don't really have this anymore like there, but you know

(37:27):
there are places where just effectively straight up race wars start. Well,
you know one of the things happens here, This happens
in a lot of cities. They'll just be like a
bunch of white people in a van driving around shooting
at people out their windows, and we sort you know,
the like this happened in Portland, right, but it was
like they were shooting paintballs. These guys are just shooting
actual guns, like out their windows any black people they

(37:48):
see on the street. Right, There's there's a crowd of
like eventually like protest start like this, this crowd of
like pretty well armed black people and this, uh and
and and like a line of cops are facing each other,
and you know this is one of these There's two
sides to the story. The cops claim that the crowd
just started shooting at them, Like everyone in the crowd

(38:08):
claims that the cops shot at them first and they
started shooting back. And so there's just this fucking shootout
between the cops and this this giant crowd. There are
like there are reports of cops like just set up
on the rooftop of a factory just shooting everyone they
can find, like white gangs or firebombing black houses. One
of the I don't know, like and it's that like
should be infamous, but like I've never fucking seen talked

(38:30):
about anywhere is a fucking police armored truck. There's a
bunch people who have come out to their lawn to
figure out what the fuck is going on, and the
police armored truck rolls up and just start shooting them,
and so, you know, people and people start shooting back,
and there's a bunch.

Speaker 3 (38:47):
Of like like people.

Speaker 2 (38:48):
People eventually get sort of tried for this, and one
of the you know, one of the things people talk
about it is like, yeah, there's like twenty guys in
their houses like having a shootout with this armored car
because the armored car is just fucking started murdering everyone.

Speaker 3 (39:01):
And you know, the sort of.

Speaker 2 (39:02):
Remarkable thing about this, I mean, one of the markable
things about this is that literally the day before this happens,
all of these cops had been at a police training
seminar about the best way to respond to civil unrest.
Amazing and the police seminar and they're like, correctly, because
this is actually, if you are the police, the best
way to handle one of these sort of uprisings.

Speaker 3 (39:22):
You know, they're told, they're told to no one certain terms.
The best way to do this is do not confront
the crowd, do not shoot at the crowd, like you know, okay,
like do like containment, but don't go don't like walk
up and fight them because that will make people fight
them back. And then literally the next day they are
having running shootouts with like the entire black population of

(39:43):
this town. And you know, like York is a place
that has had civil rights stupment stuff before this, it's
also has you know again like it has just literal
white power, like street gangs who the police are in.
I mean, the police literally just call them the boys
like that. That's how, that's how, that's how tight these
people are.

Speaker 2 (39:58):
Right. But and this is the thing, you know, one
of the notes I want to close on is that,
like a lot of the focus and I get why
people focus, there's a lot of the focus from sort
of radical accounts of this period is about, you know,
because these riots, these uprisings like these are this is
the crucible in which short of black power is forged
in And so there's a lot of attention paid to

(40:19):
sort of like black power, like people who are going
to become black power leaders and people influenced by these
movements like doing arm self defense. And that is true
and that is important, but also just regular ass people
are also doing this, right, Like the guys, the twenty
guys who are having a shootout with the police armored vehicle,

(40:42):
they are just like some of them are Vietnam vets,
but like they're just they're they're just regular people who
saw the police fucking roll up like into like roll
up on a fucking house and start shooting people. There
is a sense in you know, in this period that
the thing that guns are for are to protect you

(41:02):
from the government, right, and people actually believe this, like JFK,
you know, want to There's a really good article in
Strange Matters called The Double Kind of Resergency that's about this,
that talks about how JFK literally gives a speech where
he talks about, like again, who is a liberal gives
a speech about how like, yeah, we need guns to
defend itself against the tiarity of the government, and yeah, like,

(41:24):
if you are a black person in York in nineteen
sixty nine and you are watching the police from an
armored vehicle shooting people on their front lawn, the response
people had was, Okay, we're gonna die here or we're
gonna die in Vietnam, And so I'm gonna I am
choosing to die here fighting the cops. And that's I
think that's important. I think because a lot of you know,

(41:48):
a lot of what we're going to talk about next right,
are these student radicals And everyone now looks at these
student radicals and goes, these people were insane. These people
were stupid. These people didn't understand what was happening. There
was no way a revolution was ever.

Speaker 3 (42:02):
Going to happen.

Speaker 2 (42:05):
And they're wrong. Those people are fucking wrong. What these
people were watching, right, They were watching this. They were
watching hundreds of cities going into open revolt. They were
watching people having shootouts with the cops. They were watching
and people people tended not to shoot the national guard
because people had enough military experience to realize that if
you try to shoot the national Guard, you're not gonna

(42:26):
win because they have machine guns and stuff. But people
did it still right there, there are still numbers of
this that they are watching. They're watching armed up risings
in basically every every major in mind, not even major,
every like minor American city has one of these. And
these people assume that this is the revolution and that
you know, like that this is this is the opening

(42:47):
stage of the revolution, that it's coming, and they weren't.
They weren't wrong to think that, like it didn't happen.
But it's not that these people, like, you know, it's
not that these people were sort of naive or foolish.
It was they had the same rational reaction to what
they were seeing that the f behind the Knickson administration did.

(43:09):
And I think that's the place I'm going to close.
So I think the next one of these episodes is
going to be about the Columbia student occupations. But the
one after that, well I might do basical standing there.
But we are eventually going to get to the DNC
all part. And I promised you the a thing about
the people who are charged under the Riot Act. Yeah,
So the people who are going to the most videos,
people who are going to be charged with this like

(43:31):
interstate riot shit are the Chicago seven seven people arrested
at the Democratic National Convention. So when we come back
in however long it takes to do the rest of
the ninety six d A.

Speaker 3 (43:43):
Sophoni do before we.

Speaker 2 (43:44):
Get to that, we will come back to this Civil
Rights Act fucking over a bunch of people's lives.

Speaker 4 (43:51):
I want to look quote to that.

Speaker 1 (43:58):
It could happen year as a production of cool Zone Media.
For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit our website
coolzonemedia dot com, or check us out on the iHeartRadio, app,
Apple podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts, you can
find sources for It could happen here, Updated monthly at
coolzonemedia dot com, slash sources. Thanks for listening.

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