One year had gone by…but I was still angry and frustrated. The war in Viet Nam was escalating and more and more young men were coming home dead…or like Johnny…drug addicts.
It was just after the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August, 1968 that I met Tommy Clark.
He was currently working toward a law degree on scholarship at the University of Minnesota.
As a student at Berkeley in California, he had been quite active in the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), organizing many anti-war rallies.
He had just returned from Chicago and still had bruises from his clash with the police at the convention.
He didn’t try to hide them. He seemed to be proud of them as he was wearing only a raggedy, sleeveless tee shirt on a chilly Minnesota night.
He and a couple of other students were speaking to a very large group of anti-war protesters who had gathered in front of Coffman Union on the University of Minnesota campus.
Protests and rallies and marches were getting larger and becoming more organized…but still in America…in was pretty much business as usual.
President Johnson was still spewing lies to try to keep protesters happy…what did he care? He wasn’t even seeking a second term.
Civil disobedience was becoming the new catch phrase at protest rallies.
Tommy was calling out for ideas that might grab the attention of the press…noting that there was NO press at this rally.
I was at the front of the group and I called out a suggestion to have protesters chain themselves to the water tower on Snelling Avenue and Ford Parkway…a heavily trafficked area of St. Paul.
Everyone cheered and I looked up at Tommy Clark who was also cheering and clapping.
“And a hunger strike!” I shouted out.
“This country may have become numb to seeing young boys bleeding to death ‘in living color’ on their TV screens…but no one wants to see young college kids starving to death on Snelling Avenue in Minnesota.”