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Take The Streets! by Ed Felien An analysis of the insurrection at the University of Minnesota in response to President Nixon's escalation of aggression against the peoples of Southeast Asia. In May on 1972 we caused a genuine insurrection on the streets of Minneapolis to try to stop an obscene war in Southeast Asia. Today a new generation is fighting against a new war in the Middle East. It is to that new generation that this book is dedicated. We made mistakes, we didn't always learn from them, but perhaps you will.

TAKE THE STREETS! by Ed Felien

Now Available At Mayday Books
301 Cedar Avenue
Always 15% discount


Also Available at Amazon.com

An analysis of the insurrection at the University of Minnesota in response to President Nixon's escalation of aggression against the peoples of Southeast Asia. In May on 1972 we caused a genuine insurrection on the streets of Minneapolis to try to stop an obscene war in Southeast Asia. Today a new generation is fighting against a new war in the Middle East. It is to that new generation that this book is dedicated. We made mistakes, we didn't always learn from them, but perhaps you will.

 

 

 

Protesting the war(s): Lessons from 1972
By Lydia Howell , TC Daily Planet
September 23, 2008

As the U.S. occupation of Iraq grinds into its sixth year and activists
address the militarized police response to protests at the Republican
National Convention, a remarkable just-published historical document
should be required reading. Ed Felien’s Take the Streets! was written in
1972, during and immediately after that year’s tidal wave of Minnesota
protests of the Vietnam War.

Felien’s eyewitness account balances reporting with an analysis of
politics, tactics, and strategy that remain sharply relevant to today’s
anti-war movement.

Hear Ed Felien on Friday, September 26, at 11 a.m. on Catalyst on
KFAI, 90.3 FM (Minneapolis) and 106.7 FM (St. Paul). The program will
also be archived at kfai.org. Felien will discuss Take the Streets! on
Sunday, September 28, at 3 p.m. at May Day Books, 301 Cedar Ave. (in the
basement of Hub Bicycle), Minneapolis.

Felien, his shoulder-length hair now more gray than blonde, but still
wearing t-shirts and jeans, is best known as the publisher and editor of
the Minneapolis newspaper Southside Pride and the now-defunct Pulse of
the Twin Cities, a “grassroots alternative” weekly newspaper. In 1972,
Felien—who holds a Ph.D. in European drama from the University of
Minnesota—was an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s
Experimental College. He paid a price for his anti-war organizing on campus.

“They worked hard to fire me. I heard from other professors that the
university put the word out. I was purged, and then blacklisted, from
academia,” laughs Felien. “They weren’t interested in the kind of
theater I was teaching!”

On May 8, 1972, President Richard Nixon ordered the mining of Haiphong
harbor and the carpet- bombing of any place that could be deemed
“military”—this policy led to huge civilian casualties. In response,
student protests and strikes soared: from Berkley to Boston, from the
University of New Mexico to the University of Minnesota—even in
Minnetonka. For almost a week, students stopped business as usual on the
U of M campus.

“The Rolling Stones’ ‘Street Fighting Man’—that‘s the way we felt. This
is the moment—go for broke! We’re going to put an end to this war! This
is no time for compromise solutions!”

“You have to understand,” says Felien, “that the 1960s really goes from
1963 to 1974—when the Vietnam War ended. You can’t really appreciate
that period without the music—the Beatles, Bob Dylan’s ‘With God On Our
Side’ and ‘Masters of War.’ The first day we took the streets, we built
a barricade on Washington Avenue. We tore down the gate of the [campus]
Armory. A fraternity on the corner had a car in their backyard that was
to be towed away. They gave us the car and we turned it over in the
street and set it on fire. Made for dramatic pictures—but it wasn’t
stolen like the media said!“

“That same fraternity,” continues Felien, “also had stereo speakers
blaring from a second story window, playing the Rolling Stones’ ‘Street
Fighting Man.’ That‘s the way we felt. This is the moment—go for broke!
We’re going to put an end to this war! This is no time for compromise
solutions!”

In his book, Felien gives a rare insider’s view on how protest actually
happens: the debates and divisions, the challenges and the victories.
Then as now, there were debates about passive resistance versus direct
action. There were activists like Marv Davidov of the Honeywell Project
(now protesting AlliantTech every Wednesday), Students for a Democratic
Society (resurrected on some campuses last year), faith communities, and
others similar to those in today’s peace movement.

Perhaps the most significant difference between 1972 and now is the
military draft. Felien argues for the draft to be reinstated. “If
everybody is subject to the draft,” he says, “then everybody has to
think about what that means. Do I support the war? Am I willing to go to
Iraq? Right now, it’s easier to not think about it. It’s easier to think
about Darfur. We had motivated students in 1972 because they were
subjected to the draft and being sent over to commit genocide!”

“If everybody is subject to the draft, then everybody has to think about
what that means. Do I support the war? Am I willing to go to Iraq?”

Also, notes Felien, “it’s more unlikely that drafted soldiers will fire
on protesters than professional soldiers will. There was a political
movement inside the military during the Vietnam War, primarily among
drafted soldiers.”

In the wake of the RNC protests, tactics and strategy are up for debate.
Student protests in 1972 went beyond candlelight vigils to what Felien
calls “a kind of insurrection“—a movement that took place across the
country, reversing the escalation of and, finally, ending the Vietnam
War. Felien packs in a great deal of critical analysis while telling a
dramatic story that can’t be put down.

Take the Streets! is a counterweight to the “politicians and generals”
perspective of traditional history—especially history written about war
and peace. Ed Felien has given today’s activists inspiration as well as
practical knowledge.

“I think of (WWII conscientious objector and lifelong peace activist)
Dave Dellinger calling his autobiography More Power Than We Knew. That’s
a beautiful slogan. We do have a lot more power than we believe. It’s in
the interest of the government and the ruling class to get us to think
we’re weak and powerless.“ Felien smiles broadly. “We put up those
barricades to say to people, ‘I want you to stop and think about what’s
happening to all of us.’ That’s the point of a barricade: not to close
something off, but to open something up!”

Lydia Howell, a winner of the 2007 Premack Award for Public Interest
Journalism, is a Minneapolis independent journalist writing for various
newspapers and online journals. She produces and hosts Catalyst:
politics & culture on KFAI Radio on Fridays at 11 a.m. For several
years, she wrote for Ed Felien’s publications Pulse of the Twin Cities
and Southside Pride.

 

 

 

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