Recollection of a reflection: a Buffalo student protest in 1969

Here is a Spectrum [the SUNY Buffalo student newspaper] editorial that I wrote on March 20, 1969, and published in the next day’s edition.

It was written after a two-day student sit-in at the Hayes Hall administration building on what is now the “old” UB campus had been ended by a court injunction and arrests. The students had been seeking to declare the campus a sanctuary for a group of draft resisters.

The editorial was reprinted in “Promoting the Decline of the Rising State: Documents of Resistance and Renewal from the Alternative Community: Buffalo, 1965-76,” by Elwin “Ed” H. Powell, a UB sociology professor and former campus activist who died in 2001. (Reprinted from Catalyst,1977). I stumbled across the article while Googling UB and the Sixties, which led me to buffalonian.com, a cool history site.

Why republish it again? Well, it’s a bit of history, my history actually, that may have relevance 41 years later.
* * * *
Ring Dem Bells

“The Butler bells, dangling in the pinnacle atop “Beyer Hall”, rang all night Wednesday. One hundred and fifty helmeted Buffalo blueshirts silenced them Thursday morning. Thursday afternoon the bells – donated ironically enough by the owner of the Buffalo Evening News and WBEN – began ringing again. The clock was stuck at twelve, its bells ringing uncontrollably, unable to move its hands, not knowing whether it was noon or midnight, darkness or day.

That’s how we feel, like that big weather-beaten clock face, looking with that same blank inscrutability in all four directions.

The cops finally came. Didn’t prove too much. We knew that if we pushed hard enough, the blueshirts would eventually appear. The response to the ‘demands’ never came. We knew it most likely never could.

Actions speak louder than words: the destruction of Themis; the smashing of a window; a building renamed; panic in a crowded room; the block-long line of police; the police escort of a president; the issuance of a court order.

The revolution has still not come. We realize now that it is something which has been happening and will continue to happen. It was felt before it was thought.

Two days’ activity has not polarized people. It has rather brought closer to the surface the polarities within us and among us.

We must accept the fact that order is a thing of the past, that in these times stability is an obscenity.

Braking actions can only be viewed by a movement as repressive, and it is therefore not surprising that liberals end up using repressive mechanisms to “slow things down a little.” Wednesday’s lesson, however, is that repression actually functions as an accelerating, rather than a decelerating force.

So the pigs have come and gone – perhaps to return another day.

It’s not a stable place they have left. Neither is it particularly promising, except that it is certainly active. We must embrace this energy and realize its exciting potential, for within it lies our only hope.

Before, as a friend once said, it makes pigs of all of us.

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About mountain barry

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., I grew up in a beautiful small town, where I could bicycle to the local golf course and to the Buffalo Bills training camp. My dad was from Kentucky and was a Naval officer in WW II. My mom was from a similar small town and could beat my dad at golf. I started my first publication, a weekly newspaper, in 9th grade, and have been at it ever since: college newspaper, graduate school, college press service, daily newspapers in New York, North Carolina and Kansas, business journals in Kansas and California; also corporate communications/p.r. in Kansas and the SF Bay Area. I have two beautiful children, one extraordinary grandson, three remarkable stepchildren and a patient, loving wife who also happens to be an eBay trading assistant. My dogs, cat, gardens and the basketball goal in the driveway round out the picture of my home in a small town in the redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where mornings are foggy and afternoons are sunny.
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