Today in Boston by Ethan Underhill: 4/9/1969 — The Takeover 🗣

Listen, it’s not like they didn’t warn ‘em.

The night before, 300 of them had stuck their list of demands (à la Martin Luther) to @Harvard President Nathan Pusey’s door.

But Pusey wasn’t amused. Or convinced.

So, today in 1969, just after noon, 30 kids from the Harvard chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) stampeded their way into University Hall, forcibly removed a squadron of deans and staff from its offices, flew their organization’s red and black flag outside, and locked themselves inside.

What did the hippies want?

Mainly, they sought to terminate Harvard’s complicity in the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War by ending the school’s Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program.

Additionally, the students demanded that the administrators of the country’s richest college both expand the small Afro-American Studies department and cheapen the rents they were charging on campus-owned apartments.

Citing that some of these demands were already under consideration by various committees, Pusey poo-pooed these grandiose ideas and deplored the students’ tactics as downright un-American. He also ordered that Harvard Yard be sealed off to avoid the spread of “violence”.

Funny thing, though, about authority figures trying to crowd control without a substantive response. It rarely works — as exhibited by the fact that by nightfall, around 500 students were occupying University Hall.

Importantly, the students promised repeatedly that they would nonviolently resist any attempt to remove them from the building.

That’s when President Pusey realized the group’s strength in numbers and engaged them in a productive debate about civil responsibility and meaningful theories of change. Some say his heart grew three sizes that day.

Just kidding. He called the cops.

Around 3 a.m., armed with helmets, gas masks, and clubs, 400 — FOUR HUNDRED — officers took back University Hall, arrested nearly 300 college kids, and physically injured 75.

Ultimately, 23 students were expelled and 2 were sentenced to 9 months in jail for literally fighting the power, man.

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