Scanlan's Guerrilla War in the U.S.A.
January 1971 Issue
War Memoirs of a Black Marine
I got back to the world on December 17, 1969. When I left 12 months before, I didn't know much about what was going on in Nam or anywhere. I learned a whole lot in Nam. A whole lot from the brothers, and a whole lot from the people.
I was born in Georgia and grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant. At home I'd been in a lot of trouble coming out of some fighting we'd been in on the block. I got into the Green Motherfucker, the Marine Corps, mostly to make my bird, cause it was getting hot on me. I hadn't been in no movement, but I had thrown some rocks at pigs.
I didn't know much when I got over there. I had never met a real brother, you know. It started blowing my mind when I first got over there—brothers walk up to you and give you some power and you know they're friendly, not afraid of the pigs over there, they got themselves together. Man, I was never so glad to be black as I learned to be in the Nam.
It was like an organization, you dig, but better than a big organization: it was a lot of little groups, ready and all moving together. Not into fighting each other. Into fighting for each other.
We'd do a lot of dope. Smoke a number and get mellow, then rap down about what was happening. We wondered if the movement back in the world would ever get together. A lot of talk about the Black Panther Party and about the Black P. Stone Nation.
We were trying to get all the brothers together, to build understanding—that takes extra heavy rapping, you dig, and your shit must stay together. The pigs, the beasts, keep fucking over you, constantly harass you, try and spy on you, rip off the heaviest dudes.
We had to deal with the problem, and we had to use force or violence when necessary. This is a thing that some people who are in an organization are afraid to use—their minds start to wondering about the penalties. But you had no choice, you got to survive, to build your thing, and the pigs are murdering. They don't stop, so you can't.
It was necessary to plot against the pigs in some areas. Just the same as here. The pigs are all around, and you got no alternative but to just do them, you know. Sometimes someone would just do a pig... sometimes people got together and decided who had to be gotten. There isn't any point of dong things without an organization, you get a whole lot of people doing different things and somebody gets ripped off.
There were lots of CID (Criminal Investigation Division) cats, and lots of them died. Da Nang in September of 1969 is a good example. There was a black pig, a friendly dude, but his stories didn't all check and people got suspicious. We were pretty sure then, so we followed him to some area in Da Nang the pigs thought we didn't know about, and that proved it. So a bunch of the brothers started talking to the dude and asking him questions like why he was a pig and kept him moving, and later on he was just snuffed.
In July of 1969 I was in the Quang Tri area of I Corps. The problem there was communication. A bunch of us solved that problem by ripping off a couple of trucks and stuffing them with our people. We ran into a pair of brothers, Army brothers; we blew their minds. We rapped awhile and all of us went to their compound. It must have been 30 brothers by that time. We took over their mess hall, the Army brothers and us, not much talking, but we would give each other the power and raise the fist, you dig. People kept coming all night and we took over a hooch. It was mellow. Dudes were high, and high on black people. People kept coming in all night.
A lot of Army brothers were tankers. It was heavy the next day, because we down what a pig the colonel was who was CO of that unit. The pig was a racist and a fool. That morning he sent up some MP's to break up the party. They came around and hassled us. Brothers wouldn't even hear what they had to say, they knew who it was that time. Two of the brothers got quiet and slid when the shit started. Next thing anyone knew, this tank rolled up to the HQ hooch and it was brothers in it! This time we hit the colonel, 'cause he was in that hooch over there. It was a gas. Black MP's moved over to our side and we got our weapons and disarmed the white MP's.
There was a black captain; he had a pretty good reputation, but what he ended up doing was to negotiate for the colonel. His name was Sanders. They had sent out radio calls for assistance; we heard that from our radiomen. They had tried to jam them but it hadn't worked. So there was helicopters and things flying around. We negotiated and finally the Marine brothers retreated back to Quang Tri. Two days later the colonel, Jackson his name was, pulled open his desk drawer and this hand grenade blew him out all the windows at once.
It wasn't long after that that they tried to split us up. I got transferred to Da Nang, doing supply work. The brothers there were as together as in Quang Tri, and I got tight with a bunch of beaucoup heavy brothers. By September when the CID pig got offed, we thought that we had our area pretty well together. We knew most of the brothers and had them going in the right direction. Blew my mind when this little brother, one Thursday night in the hall, emptied a clip of an M-16 right into this lieutenant. I didn't hardly know the dude, but I knew that lieutenant for a pig. It didn't surprise me none that he got blown away, but the little brother who did it sure got fucked for it.
Most of the brothers knew that the NLF didn't consider them the enemy. In May of 1969 VC saved the life of Brother Pitts, a dude from Philly who was close to me. He had been point man on patrol, and someone signaled him with a whisper—like psst—to get down. He got down and shit started flying. When it was over he was the only one left alive, the others were all white dudes. He never shot at a Vietnamese, and, like all of s, he used to fuck up whatever equipment he could.
War Memoirs of a White Marine
I don't know why I joined the Marine Corps. I guess I wanted something to do. I had been working for a little less than a year at a General Motors parts warehouse in St. Louis, where I'm from. I couldn't see spending my life there, and I didn't know what else to do, so I joined. I guess I thought the same thing about the Nam. I heard you got less shit from the lifers in Vietnam and that's true. If lifers are too tough, someone just blows them away.
I really thought I'd made a mistake when I got to Da Nang. I had the job of air facility at the dump about a half mile from the base. Every morning about 9 o'clock I'd head for the dump. I'd start getting little kids and old women in the road about halfway there. Some of them had arms and legs missing and were really all fucked up. They'd just stand there, and you had to run them over or slow way down. Some of them would jump right on the truck with you and start going through the garbage.
I started dreaming about those kids. I still do. Fucked up kids, all ruined. A lot of people thought that I was crazy to worry about those kids, but they didn't have to see them every day. After about two months I thought I was going crazy, so I volunteered for combat. It wasn't hard because I was qualified as a radioman.
The thing about being in the Nam is that you are really alone at first. You see shit going down, but you don't know what's happening, and you don't know who you can trust. About my first day there I started doing dope a lot. It's good dope, and cheap. You can get really tight with people over dope. There was even a whole thing about dope and pigs—most officers were pretty cool about it; they would warn you when they thought you were fucked up too much and otherwise they'd leave you alone.
As radioman I saw a lot of action. I went on beaucoup patrol and saw a lot of asshole officers. Some really dumb motherfuckers. I was on patrol in Happy Valley in August of 1969, around the 21st, and we got led into a fucking trap by this incredible lieutenant. Christ, he was stupid. He got uptight and ordered us into the trees where I knew there was a lot of VC around. About an hour later there was only nine of us left. We got out, but it wasn't his fault.
About 15 minutes later he wanted us to go in again. The corporaljust stood in front of him about four feet away and argued that the dude was insane. Then he didn't say another word; he just ripped off his whole clip into that fucker. It nearly cut him in half. Nobody said a word. Nobody ever did.
After that I started digging that you could trust people, and I got pretty tight with the dudes on that patrol and a lot of other cats. We made some friends in the little villa near the pass that goes over into Happy Valley and got to know a woman there. I really loved her. She knew some English and we walked about the war a lot. I think she was a VC. I used to bring her medical supplies at first, and lots of stuff. I got tight with corpsmen and could rip off lots of it.
I heard that some Army people in the South were wearing red scarves when they wanted to be neutral in the war. They said the VC didn't shoot at them when they all wore red scarves, just like they didn't shoot at brothers that much. So I got one. We all did. I don't know if it worked; we never saw too many VC. The captain threatened to shoot us all for treason for wearing the red scarves. He knew it was bullshit—if anybody was going to get shot it wasn't us. I stopped carrying ammunition after that. Didn't for the last three months in the country.
The more I found out about what was happening, the more I didn't know which side I was on. I couldn't fight the Vietnamese, but I couldn't see defecting the way a lot of people I heard about did. I wanted to come home, and I couldn;t see shooting at my own people. I went AWOL for a week and a half, but they found me in the villa. the third night I was there I heard some noise outside and wanted to investigate, but my woman wouldn't let me—she went outside herself with three dudes, VC. I thought I'd had it. We talked until daylight, drank that good green tea and talked. They were really interested in the demonstrations; they had heard of Berkeley and wanted to know how long it would be until we had a revolution there.
Later on in the Da Nang brig, we talked about the whole thing a lot. I was glad to be in the brig; I could talk there and I didn't have to decide what to do. My tour ran until February, 1970, but they let me come home in December, because I just started refusing orders all the time and said that I would shoot anyone who tried to make me do anything. I got an Undesirable Discharge. I was lucky.
Interview with Father Daniel Berrigan
The Reverend Daniel J. Berrigan is the 49-year-old Jesuit priest who, with his brother and seven other Catholic war protesters, used handmade napalm to destroy draft records at the Selective Service Office in Catonsville, Maryland, on May 17, 1968.
How did your group plan the Customs House action?
The idea we had with the Customs House action was not to use blood that time, but to use napalm. Napalm was being used on children and women—not only in Vietnam, but all over Latin America—and we were selling it in Israel and throughout Africa. The horror was international and we thought it would be a very powerful symbol to destroy those files, those papers, those hunting licenses with the same material that was being used on human beings.
We had everybody's task thoroughly outlined. Then we made the napalm together. It was one part soap and two parts kerosene. Let me tell you, if you ever want to try something very good on material or property that has no right to exist, this is a terrific formula. It's totally incendiary, and it allows Americans to realize up close what the real product is like.
Through one of our friends, we found the wife of a Green Beret who had come home from Asia—she was very anti-war as a result of his experiences there. She read us the formula out of a Green Beret handbook ... read us the formula all the way from California. It was so simple, it just seemed to be a natural.
Now you're being sought by the FBI for refusing to go to jail. Yet when you performed the act at the draft board, you and your compatriots stood around and watched it burn until the police arrived. What is the difference in your attitude and thinking then and now?
That was the first really large draft board action. It was the first of the trials for this sort of thing, and we still had some hope that the trial might be a forum for political issues—that it might be possibly be an important factor in turning this thing around. Well, we did get the forum; we got hundreds and hundreds of people from all over the country and the tremendous night sessions and a very hot closeup trial with a lot of politics. But we were found guilt. We were disposed of. That made us think the thing through again.
The important thing to talk about, though, is not just the success or failure of the venture, but what it's leading to for the future. In the last year of draft board actions, every one of the groups involved has gotten away without an indictment. In this particular movement people are now doing their utmost to do as much damage as then can, and to get away with it.
You have talked about the possibilities of existing underground in a sense, surfacing from time to time and flaunting the FBI. What do you hope to accomplish?
What do I hope to accomplish? I still have a basic sense that good people can be brought further and that it's very important in every way possible to communicate with them. I prefer to do my writing rather than just expose myself through the mass media, but I'll do both for a while. What I most prefer is sitting down with small groups of people and talking about our lives, because that's the most basic revolution I know about and the area where we really get to one another—get our fears and terrors and dreads into the air and move closer to real adult views.
Now, a lot of the saboteurs underground would disagree with this entirely and say that it's merely playing their game again and has nothing to do with them. I have a very great sense that there is going to be much more sabotage and that the government itself is inducing it.
Do you feel any hostility or resentment at any time? Does it lead to feeling that the masses are never going to move?
If I have anger in me, it's against our political leadership. It's very hard to keep a balance or even a charitable decent attitude toward these people or even a conviction that they are decent people. I find that harder as the days go by because I have a nightmarish feeling that their vision of man and the vision of history is so corrupted and so militarized and so anti-human that they're really going to bring the whole thing down. And that is a very defeatist kind of attitude to carry into my situation.
You know the students who were attacked in the streets of New York in March were in almost every instance unable to connect with any of these workers. The workers came at them with primitive arms and a kind of mob anger, so those kids were, practically speaking, wordless as well as defenseless. But supposing there were circumstances where it was possible for a few students and a few working families to sit around on a regular basis. For instance, I know of some Cornell SDS people who have actually moved to other cities and actually started communes in working class neighborhoods and have gone to work in factories and gotten ready for this kind of long haul that I am speaking of where you really are trying to get together with people whose lives are very different than yours, and whose personal, religious, social perceptions are giving way under their feet. They're being taxed out of existence. They're feeling the encroachment of middle age and no job advancement. They have brutish jobs that offer them no human recompense. And then many of them are seeing their own children going through changes that they were never ready for. So it's no wonder that they work off the feeling of personal assault by going and assaulting others.
Where do you think the next few months will take you?
My mother is quite sick right now, and, according to my family, the FBI hangs out around the hospital in great numbers. They're like vultures around the dead, thinking that I would be foolish enough to appear. It's part of their cowardice and part of their misunderstanding of real human feeling that they would even hang around a sick bed, a death scene, and take advantage of someone very old. But that's part of the cowardice by which they rule anyway.
Interview with a Street-Fighting Woman
What is street-fighting like?
The air is electric. You start runnin' down the street like a wild woman. your body is feels really good—there's a group conciousness. You feel a People's Army. It's crazy 'cause all you have is rocks and bottles and maybe a few Molotovs, but you're fighting the pig and that's a rush.
Why do you go into the streets?
I go into the streets 'cause businessmen drink my wine. A couple of years ago I didn't know why I was there—I could define it. It was a gut reaction. But over the years my political consciousness has risen. Dig it, like I used to want to be Suzy Q. Remember her? You, know, Mick Jagger singing, "I like the way she walks, I like the way she talks ..."
What kind of actions were you in and where?
My favorite action was November, 1969, in Dupont circle, Washington D.C. It was the night of the assault on the Vietnamese Embassy. I had a can of lighter fluid upside down in my jacket pocket with a nozzle through a hole I'd made for it. I could just put my hand in the pocket and squeeze the can—squirt! I had a religious-ecstatic visions of a flaming Vietnamese Embassy ... There were lots of little fires in Washington that night. I got a charge out of them. the pigs were really chasing us and blowing their stupid tear gas. At one point, when the wind changed, the pigs gassed themselves and we tore up Connecticut Avenue. We teased them all night. Sometimes they chased ys, sometimes we chased them. And when the Mobilization marshals got creamed, everyone was happy—the people and the pigs.
Another time, when I was still at school, we staged a building takeover. It was this really fancy edifice—plush offices with leather furniture and silk wallpaper—but the school didn't have any money to let poor people in for free. That night my best girlfriend got beaten up by a pig, and we tore the place apart. We went through files and secured classified government documents proving CIA-university complicity and the school's being just a training ground for rich men's kids. This was too much on top of the behind-the-scenes policy-making in southeast Asia by the fat cat professors who fancied themselves intellectuals (yecchh!) and upholders of democracy.
We smashed up their $1,200 mahogany desks and used them for barricades. Then we split all the leather couches and chairs and decorated the fold raw silk with revolutionary wall-painting. We scored tape recorders, typewriters, and various knick-knacks. Most important, though, was that a group with different ideologies, life-styles and backgrounds had got the together, maintained security and done what we set out to do.
We felt we could relax—why not celebrate? So we sat around and blew two ounces of really good dope and ate peanut butter sandwiches. We called up every newspaper in town and gave conflicting Yippee press statements. Our first demand was the immediate release of Sirhan Sirhan. It was really funny how the news desk reacted. Of course, that was the whole idea. The old public still isn't hip enough to know who we are and what we want. We are everybody and we want everything and I don't think that's too much to ask. Do you?
Do you think street-fighting has lost its effectiveness as a tactic?
Basically, what I gained out of street actions was a progressive feeling of coming together with my sisters and brothers. We never did smash the state like we set out to do, but the streets laid the foundations to make this possible. No matter what city I travel to, I see old faces. People get together and stick together after the streets. But no more street-fighting now after Kent State, etc. Fuck the streets. We are moving on to urban guerrilla warfare and a higher consciousness. We learned to live is to love and to survive is to fight. Our struggle is one of armed love, and there's nothing contradictory about it.
How did you avoid arrest in the streets?
We stayed in small cadres of four or five people. Whenever someone shouted "Tex," or some other code word, we regrouped. We watched out for each other. We tried not to be too brash, just brash enough. We studied our territories and knew alleyways. We usually left rock piles at strategic points. But fast running and good karma were our best defense.
Is there a culture connected with street-fighting? Which came first?
The culture came first, but it's developing because we're still developing. The culture I identify with comes out of LSD and the whole hippie thing. Love, sharing. But the fact that most people are cold and hungry, while a few buy new fur coats and cars, negates the hippie as a stupid, selfish, bourgeois individual. So flower children carry guns instead of flowers because that's the only way everybody's gonna eat, 'cause the businessman drinks your wine and isn't going to give that up. And he sucks your blood and sends his dogs into the street to get you and then street-fighting saved up.
Does being a woman affect how you are treated by your cadre and the street population at large?
It sure does. I'm always getting my ass pinched or something, and it's longhairs who have been scoring the highest. When someone pinches me, I don't ask question—I sock 'em hard. Fuck that shit, man. When I worked with the underground press I was a revolutionary typist period. But I didn't have the balls to open my mouth and scream, "Hey, shmuck, let me write that article. I can do it 10 times better than you." There was even a time, about two years ago, when sometimes the guys in our collective would go out on actions and leave us home to have dinner ready for them.
Of course, the worst thing is this attitude that women are just so much meat—while I talk revolution some guy is thinking: I'll ball her tonight. I don't think this chauvinism has been struggled with hard enough by revolutionary men here. I won't deal with these men who believe they are revolutionaries and then oppress people. No men are free 'til all women. The whole foundation of capitalism is penis-profit. Male chauvinism is the gut of the pig.
In the streets, though, I have always been treated as an equal. Once in action chauvinism is usually non-existent, as everyone is together fighting against the pig.
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