Chief Hamilton in an undated photo, with 2 other campus police

TEXAS OBSERVER: Allen Hamilton kept his files secret until his death in 2005, long after his retirement as campus police chief for the University of Texas at Austin. His son discovered them while cleaning out his father’s office. The boxes of documents and photos from the 1960s included records of the most horrific event in Chief Hamilton’s tenure—the August day in 1966 when Charles Whitman perched atop the UT Tower with a high-powered rifle, killing 15 and wounding 33. Graphic photos from the Whitman archives were made available to newspapers to mark the 40th anniversary of that bloody day.

But Hamilton’s files also provide valuable links to the complex political and social currents that were washing over the campus four decades ago. These documents—made public here for the first time—tell the story of how the University of Texas spied on its nonconformist and dissidentkinky_fundraiser_739627.jpg students. The records—covering a period from approximately 1963 to 1970—show the extensive efforts that campus police made to identify, watch, and follow students and faculty members whom it found suspicious.

The files include more than 500 pages of department memos, some from student informers; lists of names of campus “dopers” and activists; and photocopies of newspaper articles and leaflets. Also included are over 250 surveillance photographs. The documents reveal that among the subjects campus police were monitoring at the time were Janis Joplin, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Richard (“Kinky”) Friedman. MORE

RELATED: Archive of Chief Hamilton’s Files

WIKIPEDIA: Who Is Kinky Friedman?

TEXAS OBSERVER: The files contain a photocopy of an April 18, 1963, article from the Austin American-Statesman that perfectly relates how clueless the authorities really were. The story describes a “shakedown of local beatniks” (this one by the Austin police vice squad) in which “they spotted several, spoke to a few and bagged zero.” It reports that “several girls, spotted leaving one of the apartments tagged as a beatnik hangout, scattered in all directions.” The article adds that parties were thought to be getting out of hand and informs that, according to the dean of student life, “local beats are currently getting their kicks from peyote cactus,” which, as one officer observed, “makes you dream in Technicolor.” One document in the collection describes a thirteenthfloorelevators_1.jpgfemale student thought to “use peyote … and other drugs, very sexually promiscuous and believed to have nymphomaniac tendencies,” and another woman is also labeled as “sexually promiscuous.”

Former campus activist Robert Pardun, author of Prairie Radical: A Journey Through the Sixties, remembers a late-night SDS group skinny-dip at Hamilton’s Pool, an historic swimming hole near Austin. “A few days later, Lt. Gerding approached (participant) Alice (Embree) and, with a wink, announced he had some real nice infrared photos of the event.”  Former Austin radical Scott Pittman remembers a Texas Ranger commenting to him: “Burt Gerding plays you guys like a fiddle.” When the members of the psychedelic rock band the Thirteenth Floor Elevators were busted in January 1966 for possession of marijuana, rock historian Paul Drummond recalls that band founder Tommy Hall just couldn’t believe it. “He thought Gerding would tip him off.”

Gerding, now approaching 80 and in failing health, lives in the Delwood section of east Austin. In an interview, he boasted that he always had informers in SDS and other activist groups. “If you had a meeting, I had a quorum there. They lived among you,” Gerding recalled. He looked upon us as “the enemy” because “you started the cultural revolution, and I felt strongly about my culture.” He still blames us for the breakdown of traditional American values, but added “I don’t consider you the enemy any more.” MORE

13th FLOOR ELEVATORS: Slip Inside This House

NEW YORK TIMES: When the scheduled federal trial begins this month for two Texas men who were arrested during the Republican National Convention on charges of making and possessing Molotov cocktails, one of the major witnesses against them will be a community activist who acted as a government informant. Brandon Darby, an organizer from Austin, Tex., made the news public himself, announcing in an open letter posted on Dec. 30 on Indymedia.org that he had worked as an informant, most recently at last year’s Republican convention in St. Paul. “The simple truth is that I have chosen to work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” wrote Mr. Darby, who gained prominence as a member of Common Ground Relief, a group that helped victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. MORE

TEXAS OBSERVER: Darby’s activist network stretches from Austin to New Orleans, where he co-founded Common rncpigposter1_1.jpgGround Relief, a grassroots reconstruction effort that drew thousands of volunteers from around the country. In 2004, he helped organize and was arrested during anti-Halliburton protests in Houston. His letter suggests that he disagreed with tactics some members of the Austin Area Affinity Group planned to use to disrupt the Republican Convention. Darby was a member of the group.

Darby’s fellow activists say they identified him as “CHS 1” – confidential human source 1 – after reviewing an affidavit (PDF) by FBI agent Christopher Langert that was released in discovery in the case against David Guy McKay, 22, and Bradley Neal Crowder, 23. They say information described in the affidavit came from conversations between McKay and Darby. The informant told Langert that McKay and Crowder fashioned protest shields made from cutting traffic barrels in half. After describing how police seized these items from a trailer the two helped drive from Austin to St. Paul, Langert refers to conversations gathered when the informant wore a wire to record McKay talking about how he and Crowder had made Molotov cocktails, using tampons soaked in lighter fluid for wicks.

The Molotov cocktails were among the items seized in a raid that led to felony indictments of McCay and Crowder, now known as the “Texas Two.” They were charged with possession of unregistered firearms (the cocktails). Information gathered by Darby may have contributed to broader charges against eight others from around the country for conspiracy to riot and conspiracy to damage property in the furtherance of terrorism. MORE

FRIENDS OF THE RNC 8: On Saturday, August 30th 2008, the Ramsey County, Minnesota Sheriff’s Department executed search warrants on three houses, seizing personal and common household items and arresting RNC organizers Monica Bicking, Garrett Fitzgerald, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, and Eryn Trimmer. Later that day Luce Guillen-Givins was arrested leaving a public meeting at a park. Rob Czernik and Max Specktor were arrested on Monday, September 1. These arrests were preemptive, targeting known organizers in an attempt to derail 2008 anti-RNC protests in St. Paul, MN before the convention had even begun. The “RNC 8″ were originally charged with conspiracy to riot in the 2nd degree in furtherance of terrorism, a felony which is the first ever use of Minnesota’s PATRIOT Act. MORE


HUFFPO: Here we have every indication of an orchestrated assault by federal and local law enforcement agencies to stifle independent sources of information. As shocking as this conduct is, more disturbing is the fact that the mayor’s office and the local daily seem so unconcerned. It’s not difficult to understand why. With local leaders making every effort to roll out the welcome mat for mainstream media and the GOP, they’d rather sweep beneath the carpet those pesky independents who are showing us a side of the spectacle that is less scripted for prime time. MORE

revolution_fist_1.jpgTRUTH DIG:  The rise of the corporate state means the rise of the surveillance state. The Janus-like face of America swings from packaged and canned spectacles, from nationalist slogans, from seas of flags and Christian crosses, from professions of faith and patriotism, to widespread surveillance, illegal mass detentions, informants, provocateurs and crude acts of repression and violence. We barrel toward a world filled with stupendous lies and blood. What difference is there between the crowds of flag-waving Republicans and the apparatchiks I covered as a reporter in the old East German Communist Party? These Republican delegates, like the fat and compromised party functionaries in East Berlin, all fawned on cue over an inept and corrupt party hierarchy. They all purported to champion workers’ rights and freedom while they systematically fleeced, disempowered and impoverished the workers they lauded. They all celebrated the virtue of a state that was morally bankrupt. And while they played this con game, one that gave them special privileges, power and wealth, they unleashed their goons and thugs on all who dared to challenge them. We are not East Germany, but we are well on our way. An economic meltdown, another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, a war with Iran, and we could easily swing into an authoritarian model that would look very familiar to anyone who lived in the former communist East Bloc. MORE

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