Protests of Vietnam War on University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin Campuses

12:30 a.m., 5/6/70
To James &/or Warren? (from Robert),

Rallies followed by violence have occurred again this afternoon and this evening. Windows have been broken and fires set. The Kroger's supermarket at the end of University Ave. was completely destroyed by fire last night. University Ave. less than ½ a block from the Friend's Center* was closed by a mob of young people for an hour or so tonight. They barricaded the street with piece of cement and fence posts. Police came in after most of the mob had left and covered the area with tear gas. The gas has been used in front of our house or on University Ave. at least three times today. The street was eventually cleared of debris after four jeep loads of National Guardsmen arrived. Several cars were bombarded with rocks when they sped down University Ave. while the mob was in control. Only one window in the Friend's Center has been broken so far.

A meeting of the "United Front" committee of representatives from various campus organizations is currently underway across the street in the Episcopal center. My roommate, a radical (?) recently elected (unopposed) to the County Board of Supervisors, has resigned from this committee because he feels it has virtually no control over the trashings, etc. However, two other residents of the Friend's Center are at tonight's meeting to try to present the nonviolent point of view. Unfortunately the more extreme elements seem to be in control of current campus events.

Another house resident is being charged with trying to steal activated charcoal from a chemistry lab to make a gas mask. The same resident has been involved in a long hassle in trying to get a C. O. discharge from the Wisconsin National Guard in which his father is a high officer. He has stopped going to the meetings and taking orders from them and may move to Canada if legal maneuvers fail.

* Friends Campus Center co-ed cooperative where Robert was living.
Dear folks,

Enclosed is a page from a local paper with several articles related to the current disturbances. I sent different clippings to James and Warren earlier this week. The Friend's Center on Brooks St. has been involved in the disturbances because of being near the center of action on several occasions. One night a mob bombarded 2 or 3 cars on University Ave., half a block from the house, with rocks and then barricaded the street with fence posts, pieces of cement, etc. Police have used tear gas in the area on a number of occasions and some inevitably got in the house although we closed all the windows. We have been luckier than our neighbors. Police use of gas tended to become less responsible as the violence continued day after day. Nearby buildings which have had tear gas thrown inside include the Univ. YMCA, the girls dorm of the Baptist Community of Life and Faith and the Afro-American Center. The YMCA served as strike headquarters for a while. The Baptist Center was guilty only of offering first aid to victims of gas, etc. The gas canister was in their case thrown through a (closed) window into the basement where the graduate student with cerebral palsy who you met, who lives at the Friend's Center, has set up an office. Bob had just left his office about 5 minutes earlier. Since the gas was thrown near the stairs, he felt that he could have been trapped and possibly killed. The Friend's Center has so far suffered only a couple of windows broken with rocks. Perhaps someone doesn't like us because we don't support the violence. Two houses downed by the University on the same block and in view from my bedroom window have been firebombed.

I was interested to hear that Mom's brother Kaarlo has been elected President of the University of Turku. As you probably know the president of the Univ. of Wisconsin has just announced his resignation. He was disliked by students because he was so quick to bring national guard and police on campus to try to cope with disturbances, thus sometimes causing more violence than would have otherwise occurred. As strange as it may seem, he was attacked by right wingers in the state legislature for being too lax with the students. I hope Kaarlo never has to face problems of the scope indicated by the enclosed articles on the 1,200 treated for tear gas and more serious injuries and on the 50 cases of arson in one night. The 1,200 figure does not include those treated for tear gas here at the Friend's Center and other places with which have put up a red cross to indicate a willingness to help but which are not "certified" medical centers as part of the Hillel system. One of these centers was set up in the basement of St. Francis House across the street from us when the violence in this area was at its worst. The tear gas aggravated a sore throat which was the beginning of a bad cold which I have had now for several days. The cold and the disruptions have brought progress on my thesis to a virtual halt the latter part of this week. However things have been pretty quiet the last couple of days. The surprisingly strong stand taken yesterday by the faculty against the war has probably helped to quell the mob action. Nonviolent students appear to be the ones who are most active now with a variety of projects including a campaign to turn in 15,000 draft cards to president Nixon next week, a latter writing campaign sponsored by the Dept. of Communicative Disorders which has a house on our block (one of their tables is shown in the new photo at the bottom of the enclosed newspaper page) and a continuing peace vigil on Bascom Hill (the center of the campus) which can be seen in the background of the same photo.



1417 First Ave. So.
Mpls., Mn. 55403

Dear Robert,


The most immediate thing of course is the strike - The pictures and stories you sent give a pretty good idea of what has been happening in Madison. I have also been following the news about U/W closely. I guess you have had quite a bit of violence connected with the strike. At least this is the kind of thing that can be photographed and reported upon. It sometimes destroys the positive efforts of the people involved. This I guess is your attitude as well. I first met the word "trashers" in your letter. Since I have seen it a few other places.

There has been no violence in Minneapolis. Not a window broken or a person injured--so far anyway. I think things are pretty calm here. Also contributing to the peacefulness is the fact that not a single policeman or National Guardsman has been on campus. These oppressive tactics give the more violent people their excuse. I suppose we will have some violence within the next year, but so far things are good. There have also been demonstrations against GE and Honeywell here, almost completely non-violent, altho two windows were broken at Honeywell.

At the U/M, the student strike has been very effective. Thousands of people are out of classes, many wearing read "strike" ambands. President Moos is causiously in favor of the strike. There will be one day a week set aside to do something about the war for the rest of this school year. Students are picketing all the doors of University buildings.

(Needless to say there has been no gas on campus at all, as at Madison.)



May 13, 1970
Dear James,

Support for trashing has faded and the so called "United Front" seems to be directing people more toward picketing of classroom buildings now. Things have been pretty quiet although the National Guard still guards doorways at the Engineering Building and elsewhere. A number of nonviolent actions are now underway including a letter writing campaign, a peace vigil and a movement to turn in draft cards. Over 6000 postcards and letters have been turned in. Perhaps you saw the program presented by 5 Senators on TV tonight to gain support for the Amendment to End the War by cutting off funds. Letters are being directed especially to borderline Congressmen who might be persuaded to support upcoming proposals such as this. An enclosed photo shows some of the hardy few who are continuing the Peace Vigil which started as a nonviolent rally of sorts attended by perhaps several hundred people. I have visited the vigil several times. Some people in the house are also working on the draft-card turn in. About 150 have been collected in Madison.

I attended part of a faculty meeting on Friday at which the faculty voted 600 to 72 for a resolution stating that the U.S. "should immediately cease all military operations in Southeast Asia". They also voted by almost as large a margin to recommend that the administration suspend classes for this week. The Chancellor offered a compromise plan but some departments have voted to replace classes with discussions on the war etc.