An Act of Conscience

Another excerpt from Morgantown to San Francisco, a memoir I am writing. My fist five books are available at amazon.com. They are: Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories; The Soviet Union and Lincoln County USA; Sarvice Mountain; Cruising the Acropolis; Damn Yankee Buttons.

A few days before, I was watching the demonstrations with Randy Kehler, a friend who organized for the War Resisters League. We went in the College of Business to take a leak—exactly the wrong building. Tactical squad riot police headquarters was in the College of Business, of course it was. Four tactical squad members followed us into the restroom. The first two cops jammed Randy and me against the wall and demanded identification. The other two searched the stalls and wastebaskets.

I fumbled my driver’s license and it fell to the floor.

“You dropped your card.” The cop had a nasty curl to his lips. He didn’t move back. I slid down and picked up the card with about six inches between me and the surly cop. One slight wrong move and I was going to get hurt. Randy had some granola in a bag, one cop looked inside the bag and then emptied it into the trash can.

 In 1969, during the Vietnam War, Kehler returned his draft card to the Selective Service System. He refused to seek exemption as a conscientious objector, because he felt that was simply a form of cooperation with the US government’s actions in Vietnam. After being called for induction and refusing to submit, he was charged with a federal crime. Found guilty at trial, Kehler served twenty-two months of a two-year sentence.

Daniel Ellsberg‘s exposure to Kehler in August 1969…was a pivotal event in Ellsberg’s decision to copy and release the Pentagon Papers. (It was Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers which led President Nixon to create a group of in-house spies, who undertook the ill-fated Watergate break-in, which led to Nixon’s resignation)

The refusal of Randy, and his wife Betsy Corner, since 1977, to pay taxes for military expenditures resulted in the 1989 Federal seizure, and eventual legal forfeiture, of their house in Colrain, Massachusetts. This was documented in the film An Act of Conscience (1997).[1]

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randy_Kehler

http://nwtrcc.org/war-tax-resistance-resources/speakers-bureau/war-tax-resistance-speakers-bureau-randy-kehler/

8http://www.sfsu.edu/news/2008/fall/8.html:

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to Amazon.com to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (wvhighlands.org), and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation (ksff.org). I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at martinjul@aol.com or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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