Stop the Draft Week and the Oakland Seven
The Oakland Army Induction Center was the target of protests throughout the Vietnam War era. Located at 14th and Clay in downtown Oakland, this was the building where draftees and others would go to get processed before being sent out to war. A series of week-long nationwide protests called Stop the Draft Week were planned for October, 1967. By this time, certain members of the anti-war movement believed a more militant set of tactics were needed. Thousands were dying in the war and all the efforts of the anti-war movement were showing little effect of slowing down the war machine. In The Bay Area the slogan "from protest to resistance" began to take hold.
On October 16th pacifists staged a sit-in in front of the Army Induction Center. Draftees and others had to step over the protesters to gain entrance to the building. The police arrested around 140 protesters, including folk singer Joan Baez. That same evening students at UC Berkeley were planning on holding a on-campus teach-on regarding the war. Alameda County officials provided a court order to the university banning any such teach-in. around 5,000 students responded by taking over Sproul Plaza for the whole night and leaving for the Induction Center the next morning. Though non-violent, these protesters were more aggressive than the previous day's protesters. These students used their bodies to block the entrances to the Induction Center. The police formed a phalanx and charged the crowd, indiscriminately swinging batons and spraying mace. Students, clergy, and media were all equally likely to be hit. The result was twenty-seven individuals requiring hospital treatment.
On Wednesday twenty-two high school students were arrested for peacefully blocking the Induction Center.
On Thursday demonstrators returned to the Induction Center, but did not attempt to block the entrances, and when policed ordered them to disperse, they did so.
On Friday however protesters returned ready to defend themselves against police aggression. Some were sporting helmets and other defensive gear. Rather than sitting in front of the entrances to the Induction Center, the protesters stayed mobile and built barricades as they went. They pulled trash bins into the streets, deflated car tires, burned draft cards and overturned one car. When attacked by police they responded with rocks and bottles. Anti-war slogans were painted on the walls. Eight officers and ten protesters were injured and around thirty people were arrested. Traffic in downtown Oakland was shut down for hours.
Though much of the organizing happened on the campus of UC Berkeley, of over 300 arrests that week, only 15 were UC Berkeley students. The anti-war movement went beyond student activism.
One outcome of the protests was the arrest of seven well known activists. They were charged with felonious conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor. The arrested included Terry Cannon, editor of The Movement, a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee newspaper in San Francisco. Others were members of Students for a Democratic Society, Progressive Labor, the May 2nd Movement, and Peace/Rights Organizing Committee. All of which were different types of Leftist activist groups in the Bay Area.
The trial began in 1969, and was one of many political trials of that year. Conservative prosecutors around the country were attempting to use the law to stop down on Leftist activist groups. During the trail of the Oakland Seven, the prosecution could not even show the whereabouts of the activists during the alleged conspiracy. It soon became clear to everyone, including the jury that the trail was nothing more than a political move by the prosecution. The Oakland Seven were found not guilty.