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Supporting Materials for Sir! No Sir!
Mass Pressure Springs Harvey And Daniels
In these times, when thousands of GI's speak freely against the war and the military establishment, it is good to consider the scrifices of those who were ahead of their time.
1967 was a year in which a growing anti-war movement still looked on servicemen as a hostile force, as criminals instead of as those who most deeply felt the war and could most effectively oppose it. This attitude found its echo in the Armed Forces where GI's felt that antiwar civilians were the enemy.
Naturally the government was in favor of this hostility and planned to ensure that it would continue. So, when two black Marines, George Daniels and William Harvey, both members of the Nation of Islam, participated in a discussion with fellow Marines on the Vietnam war and the rebellions in the ghetto and followed this up with a request for 'Captain's Mast' (discussion with CO outside the chain of command), they were singled out by the brass. On August 17, 1967, they were arrested in a transparent attempt to take two Muslims out of circulation and to make such an example of them that any further attempts at dissent would be quashed.
Out of their court-martials, the two received staggering sentences. Harvey received six and Daniels ten years of hard labor at the Portsmouth Brig.
Harvey and Daniels were the victims not merely of the brass, but of the split between civilians and GI's opposed to the war as well. Isolated from a mass movement, feeling alone and confused, they were easy prey for the legal eagles of the Marine Corps who convinced them not to see civilian legal aid and to make statements without counsel which were later used against them.
However, protest movements are not static and as certain segments of the civilian movements began to gain weight in proportion to the faction of individual soul-saving and conscience-saving draft-card burners and draft registers and as the military opposition grew, so did cases like Harvey's and Daniels's come to light. At that time, a legal and mass protest movement was initiated to fight the brass on two fronts.
As a result of the publicity brought about by demonstrations around and at the Portsmouth Brig, a climate was created which favored a legal victory. So it was that on March 6, 1969, appeals were heard at Washington, and late this summer the two men were free, pending the results of the hearings.
Their story holds lessons for GIs and civilian opposed to the war that cannot be ignored. If a GI opposed to the war is isolated from a mass movement, then the brass will not hesitate to crush his. That the mass movement can accomplish wonders in protecting and defending antiwar GI's.
If the anti-war movement had not broadened to include GI's than Harvey and Daniels would still be languishing in the brig at the convenience of the brass.
Top Secret , no. 5