California State University, Long Beach

Los Angeles Resistance


The Los Angeles Resistance was part of a nationwide network of those advocating resistance to the draft during the Vietnam War. Inspired by David Harris, the Stanford University student body president who called for open resistance to the draft, an increasing number of young men and their supporters joined the non-violent movement following large demonstrations in San Francisco and New York on April 15, 1967. And although the first draft card burning in the US was recorded two years earlier, in 1965, the demonstration in Central Park in New York was the first notable draft card burning. Shortly after the April demonstrations, what became the Los Angeles Resistance opened its first office, jointly with UCLA SDS, where draft counseling was held under the tutelage of National Lawyers Guild attorney, Bill Smith. The Resistance was not just about dramatic displays of draft card burning. Young men publicly refused to register for the draft or refused induction into the army; they and their supporters leafleted those being ordered to report for induction, greeting them with flowers and leaflets; activists spoke at college campuses, and mobilized supporters who, among other things, signed Statements of Complicity after the arrest of Dr. Benjamin Spock for his advocacy of draft resistance. Many of the resisters served time in prison for their resistance to the draft, some in solitary confinement. The initial interviews in this series represent only a sampling of those who were active in the Los Angeles Resistance. These narrators were chosen not because they played any special role, but rather because they were the members of the Resistance community who came to the October 23, 2009 reunion from outside in Los Angeles, one as far away as London. We hope to add additional oral history, but in the meantime, other activists recounted some of their Resistance history and memories during an open mike session at the reunion. The Los Angeles Resistance collection of papers, photographs, films and memorabilia are archived at the Los Angeles Public Library (in process).

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