The Buffalo Nine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Buffalo Nine was a group of nine Vietnam War protesters arrested together on August 19, 1968 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Buffalo, New York.

Image of US Federal marshals and FBI agents arresting Bruce Beyer after anti-Vietnam War draft resistance sanctuary at Buffalo's Unitarian Church

Background[edit]

During the Vietnam War there was a rise in draft resistance as a political statement. A group of students, primarily associated with the University at Buffalo, had been active against the draft and the war. When they and supporters sought sanctuary in the Unitarian church on Elmwood Avenue, U.S. Marshals, FBI agents, and Buffalo Police surrounded the church. The minister, Dr. Paul Carnes, attempted mediation for several days. Eventually, the lawmen "stormed" the church.[1] When the group of lawmen entered the church, they used blackjacks to "clear the aisle". Beyer was arrested, as were seven others, on charges including draft evasion and assaulting an officer. Among those arrested were prominent campus radicals such as Carl Kronberg and Jerry Gross. A later investigation led them to arrest Students for a Democratic Society organizer Bill Yates.[2]

Trials[edit]

The first federal trial began in February, 1969. Around 150 University of Buffalo students and faculty picketed the U.S. Courthouse, chanting "Free the Nine -- The Trial's a Crime." The defendants and their lawyers used the trial as an organizing tool. Beyer, Gross, and Kronberg and the other defendants informed the court that it was necessary to resist an "immoral, illegal, racist, politically insane war on the Vietnamese people." The jury was unable to reach a verdict on several of the defendants but Bruce Beyer was convicted and received a three-year sentence.[2]

At the second trial, Malak, Yates, and Berry angered the judge and others by raising their fists in power salutes when introduced to the court, guaranteeing a contentious atmosphere. Malak and Yates drew contempt of court citations for refusing to stand as the judge left for a recess. In the end, Berry and Kronberg were acquitted, but Malak and Yates were convicted. The jury was unable to arrive at a verdict on Jerry Gross and the government decided to drop his case. Malak and Yates were sentenced to three years' imprisonment.[2]

Reaction[edit]

The series of trials occupied the attention of the university and city. The Buffalo Nine Defense Committee was formed, publishing its own newsletter, Liberated Community News, out of the Urban Action offices, publishers of "The Buffalo Broadside" newsletter, as well as a printing facility for various student newspapers.[2] In October this office was raided by Buffalo Police, based on an accusation that a foot patrolman had been threatened with violence, an action that drew protest from the Buffalo ACLU over police use of violence.[2] During that raid six men were arrested, three on the street corner, and three inside the offices, and charged with various misdemeanors, all of which were later dropped or reduced to disorderly conduct. Of those arrested only Kronberg had any relationship to the Buffalo Nine.

photo of the cover of 1960s SDS pamphlet supporting the Buffalo Nine

A symposium in September drew New York City intellectuals such as Susan Sontag.[2]

When Beyer was convicted, the UB campus erupted into violent protests. Hundreds of students stormed the campus and set fire to buildings that housed a navy research project. Others entered Hayes Hall and climbed to the top of the bell tower and relentlessly rang its bells to be heard across the campus.[1]

The original Buffalo Nine shirt pin

The nine[edit]

  • Bruce Cline, organizer, Buffalo Draft Resistance Union
  • Ray Malak, Chairman of the Research Action Committee of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Vietnam veteran
  • Thomas O'Connell, Vietnam veteran
  • Bruce Beyer, organizer, Buffalo Draft Resistance Union
  • James McGlynn, Vietnam veteran
  • William Berry, organizer, Buffalo Draft Resistance Union
  • Carl Kronberg, organizer, Peace and Freedom Party
  • Jerry Gross, Chairman of Youth Against War and Fascism (YAWF) and Martin Sostre Defense Committee
  • William Yates, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)

"What started out as a peaceful, non-violent demonstration against the war and the Selective Service System, ended in a violent fist-swinging melee. I maintain to this day that this was precisely what the government had in mind when it sent thirty-two police officers to arrest two draft resisters..." (Bruce Beyer)

source: The Spectrum, vol 28 No. 18 State University of New York at Buffalo 5 October 1977

An article appeared in the Magazine Section of the Buffalo Evening News, December 18, 1988 with extensive detail about the case and also covering the 20-year reunion, in Buffalo, of some of the defendants.

Photo of a Buffalo Evening News Sunday edition on the Buffalo Nine's 20-year reunion. From the left: Gross, Berry,Beyer, Kronberg

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Buffalo Nine Pamphlet Cover [1]
  • Gross, Malek, Kronberg, Beyer [2]
  • Gross and Buffalo Police [3]
  • Buffalo Police Invade UB Campus [4]
  • William Berry [5]
  • 20-Year B9 Reunion Statement [6]
  • The Political Declaration of the Buffalo Nine: Non-Cooperation with "Our" Government [7]
  • YouTube interview with Bruce Beyer [8] part 1
  • YouTube interview with Bruce Beyer [9] part 2
  • YouTube interview with Bruce Beyer [10] part 3
  • YouTube interview with Bruce Beyer [11] part 4
  • Canadian film company's interview with Bruce Beyer [12]
  • The Buffalonian, an article by Promoting the. Decline of the Rising State: Documents of Resistance and Renewal from the Alternative Community: Buffalo, 1965-76 by Elwin H. Powell (Reprinted from Catalyst,1977) [13]