I Protest!: The University of Minnesota Student Protests of 1972
When a protest erupted on the University of Minnesota campus May 9, 1972, it was long overdue. America was bogged down in Vietnam and young men's lives were being fed into a war most did not believe in and could not avoid. Before this, the protests had always occurred somewhere else. Now it was Minnesota's turn.
Saturday, May 21st
2 to 4 pm
Join us to commemorate the explosive
"Eight Days in May."
Preserve Historic Dinkytown is bringing together four witnesses to the protests.
at The Root Cellar
University Baptist Church
1219 University Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55414
Monte Bute, Bill Huntzicker, Marshall Muirhead and Will Weaver were students, organizers, journalists and men of draft age—and they wanted to be heard. They'll share stories and never-before-seen images in Super 8 footage and slides of the protests that spilled into Dinkytown's streets, pursued by helicopters, teargas, police from several counties and the nation's press.
Event Contact: Kristen at firstname.lastname@example.org,
Media Contact: Bill Huntzicker at email@example.com
Thank you to the participants, who created this event with Britt Aamodt, and to the University of Minnesota Archives for transfer of Will Weaver's on-the-ground footage, that inspired this program.
Will Weaver grew up in northern Minnesota, and graduated from the U of MN in 1972 with a B.A. in English. The great truths of literature and the agonizing dilemma of the Vietnam War had many intersections. Together they pushed him to protest, to march, and to write against the war. He declared himself a Conscientious Objector (like his grandfather in World War I), and worked hard to end the war.
The U of MN movement showed him the full power of nonviolent protest, and that many voices, together, can be an unstoppable force for change. Since his days at “The U” , he went on to graduate school at Stanford, and then a career of teaching and writing. He lives in Bemidji, Minnesota.
Marshall Muirhead, Minnesota poet, won the 2011 Great American Thinkoff! He was at the U from 1969-1972 as an undergrad, hung around after that, went to dental school 1974-1978. He lived near Ralph and Jerry’s in those undergrad years. Was inspired by a political science class with Mulford Q. Sibley; "a soldier not a leader" he was a protestor who saw all the activities on the Mall.
“I and my girlfriend at the time wore our Strike! armbands and canvassed the suburbs for a petition supporting the Hatfield - McGovern amendment to end the war. Did most of our door to door in South St. Paul - very receptive folks there.
Bill Huntzicker, a Minneapolis writer, has taught journalism and media history at St. Cloud State University, Bemidji State University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. The protests were an indelible experience of his college years. As a journalist, he has covered Dinkytown trials and tribulations for decades. He is the author of the forthcoming book, “Dinkytown: A History in Four Blocks.”
Monte Bute (moderator) is an associate professor of sociology at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota. His opinion essays appear on the editorial pages of daily newspapers in the Twin Cities, publishing 80 articles in scholarly publications and the popular press. Still an agitator and organizer, Bute has made over 90 presentations at academic conferences and community events' and received many awards. He is the action coordinator for the Inter Faculty Organization, the union for Minnesota state universities. Monte, the embodiment of "radical sociologist', received the Distinguished Sociologist award in 2004 fro the Sociologists of Minnesota (SOM).
History of the Eight Days
Beginning on May 9, 1972, the University of Minnesota campus and Dinkytown were the site of massive, student-led protests against the Vietnam War. The huge, mostly peaceful but occasional violent demonstrations went on for several days.
There were sit-ins and marches.
Tear gas from helicopters.
Police actions wherein students were beaten and arrested.
Bonfires and blockades that closed streets and freeways.
Classes cancelled, with students (and many professors) on strike.
Similar protests were happening nationwide, but Minnesota's, on May 10, was among the largest–and most pivotal– in helping to end the Vietnam War. For a few brutal, convulsive few days, Minnesota led the news. As we approach our 15th year of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan (increasingly known as "The Endless War") it seems only appropriate to look back to those "Eight Days in May." At students and concerned citizens standing up to a war without a plan, without an end.
Bill Huntzicker recalls:
The protests began peacefully off campus Monday night, May 8, when President Nixon announced the increased bombing deep into North Vietnam and the mining of the country’s harbors. Antiwar activists gathered in front of Northrop Auditorium on Tuesday and marched to the West Bank were Housing Secretary George Romney was scheduled for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Cedar-Riverside housing development.
Local residents opposed to the federally subsidized high rises had already planned a protest. Minneapolis police in riot gear were waiting for the protesters who engaged in a confrontation. Romney never showed up for his ceremony. Police and protesters spent the afternoon taunting one another. A few protesters threw rocks and many police officers beat people with their clubs.
On Wednesday, May 10, demonstrations began on campus while police gathered at Koehler’s Garage in Dinkytown. By the end of the day, the Mall and Dinkytown and many protestors, students and faculty had been sprayed with teargas. The National Guard was called to campus that night.
By the end of the week, thousands gathered daily in front of Coffman and Northrop; traffic was stopped on Washington Avenue for three days. In the street, students and others had campfires, sang folksongs, and perhaps smoked some dope...