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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!

Fort Hood: Development Of A Movement

FORT HOOD, TEXAS: On August 23, 1968, approximately 100 Black GIs came together to discuss the possibility of being assigned to riot control duty in Chicago during the Democratic Convention. The men stayed In the parking lot and the adjoining grassy area throughout the night. At one point, there were more than 160 men present.

From 3 to 6 am, Col. Kulo, the PMO, came out several times, and "instructed" the men that in their interests they should disperse. At 6 am two companies of MPs were ordered to clear the grassy area, and 43 men were placed under arrest. They were taken to the Post Stockade, where they were processed in, then were taken to the Stockade Annex on the other side of the base and told to go in. They refused, stating that they wanted to talk to lawyers; at this point, the MPs were again called on to put them in the building, and a small massacre occurred. One man, suffering from kidney wounds as a result of combat in Vietnam had his wounds reopened by the clubbing he received, and another man had his arm broken by the MPs clubs. Several other minor injuries were incurred before the men were herded into the Annex building.

The official racism In the action of the brass was shown from the first when Lt. Gen. Boles, Commander of the 1st Armored Division, told the men that "...I have nothing against colored people.. there are colored soliders who work in my house...' Col. Carpenter, Ft. Hood PlO officer, told the press, "... Their complaints were typical of the colored race...." This attitude remained throughout the legal proceedings that followed.

On August 27, it was announced that 8 of the men would receive General Courts Martial for willful disobedience of a direct order, and that the other 35 men would receive Special Courts Martial for the same offense; the eight receiving Generals were supposedly the 'leaders' and the 'instigators' of the demonstration. The Special Courts Martial began early in September,

The main point for the prosecution was that Col. Kulo, the PMO, had given the men a direct order at 6 am to disperse and return to their units and that this order had been willfully disobeyed by the men. However, by the time the courts martial began, Col. Kulo retired from the Army and moved to Florida, and the brass found it impossible to get him back to testify. The 24 men receiving Specials were tried on evidence testified by two Junior officers in the Provost Marshall's office, who stated that they heard Col. Kulo tell the men that In their best Interests they should disperse, and that In their mind - this constituted a direct order. Only 13 men were convicted by these Special Courts; 11 were acquitted. The men were defended by civilian attorneys provided by the NAACP legal defense fund.

THE TRIAL: The General Courts Martial of the first six men began on October 30, with Michael Kennedy of the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee as defense attorney. The trial lasted 4 days, with Kennedy challenging the legality of the court, the constitutionality of these men receiving General Courts Martial for the same offense that others had received Special Courts Martial, and the arbitrary inclusions of black officers and NCOs as candidates for the Courts Martial hoard. He gave a moving defense summation that brought in the substantive reasons for the demonstration: the questions of raclsm these men had faced, the liberation struggle in America, and a strong attack against a system that places more emphasis on maintenance of good order and discipline" than on real justice.

The results were: Sgt. Robert Rucker and SP/4 Ernest Bess, acquitted; Pvt. Guy Smith and Pvt. Ernest Fredericks, BCDs (no time); SP/4 Talley Royal, 3 months w/o confinement, and SP/4 Albert Henry, 3 months with confinement. They had faced a possible 5 years and a DD.

On October 28, the Army anflounced that the other 12 men then facing General Courts Martial would have the charges changed and would receive Special Courts Martial, where the maximum sentence is 6 months confinement and a BCD. The first six of these 12 to be tried all got the maximum sentence.

Apparently, the brass reversed itself AGAIN. Three more of the 43 received General Courts Martial. During the trial the defense called witnesses who testified that none of the three were anywhere near the area in which the order to disperse was supposedly given. One of the prosecution's witnesses was caught laying. The prosecution could not establish that the order was ever given. Yet all three were found guilty; two drew 9 months each and one drew 8 months.

OTHER HAPPENINGS: The movement it Fort Hood is not confined to the black GIs on base. The white GIs have been getting their shit together, too, with the help of the civilian organizers at the Oleo Strut Coffeehouse in nearby Killeen. In July, a mimeographed underground paper, the "Fatigue Press" was begun, telling it like it is and putting the brass uptight. On September 7, the founder and editor, Bruce Petersen, was arrested by the Killeen Police on a phony marijuana possession charge. (See "Anti-war GI Editor Gets Eight Years.")

In addition to public anti-war work by GIs (picnic, Teach-In, etc.), the men at Ft. Hood have been engaged in active organizing on-base. They distribute copies of the "Fatigue Press," "Vietnam GI," and "The Ally," plus other anti-war literature; this has made the brass very uptight, and several men have been caught with "subversive literature" in their lockers during shakedowns which now occur on a daily basis. In addition, the men have distributed over 3,000 copies of a sticker showing a white hand in the V" with a black fist. The stickers have been put up In every conceivable place, on officers' bumpers, in telephone booths, on tanks, on buildings, etc. This has blown the brass' mind; Ml originally thought the sticker symbolized "white victory over black power." When they found out it meant people, get your shit together!" they got very shook.

OLEO STRUT HARASSED: Civilian organizers In Killeen - an "Army Town" if there ever was one - have also been subject to harassment and attempts at reIrosslon for their activities. On August 23, 5 members of the staff were arrested for marijuana possession. Four were released that day, but Josh Gould, manager of the Strut, was held on $50,000 ball, later reduced. So far though the Boll County Grand Jury has met twice, his case has not been brought before It, and It appears that the authorities are reluctant to bring out the dirty wash in court. Attempts to close the Oleo Strut as a "public nuisance," which were dependent upon the conviction of Gould to establish their "legitimacy," have stopped, and the Strut continues to operate on a wing and a prayer, existing by keeping the various forces of authority and repression off balance so that they cannot work in concert.

The Ally, no. 12

 

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