The Camden 28 Retrospective: Zinn Recounts His Testimony

Remembering Howard Zinn from Anthony Giacchino on Vimeo.

In this clip, Zinn recounts his role as an expert on civil disobedience in the trial of the Camden 28, as well other Vietnam war protesters. The civil disobedience by the Camden 28 is described on the Camden 28 film website as follows,

In the early-morning hours of Sunday, August 22, 1971, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Attorney General John Mitchell announced that FBI agents had arrested 20 antiwar activists in and near a draft board office in Camden, New Jersey. Five days later, Mitchell made public the indictment of these individuals and included eight others who were linked to the break-in. The major charges against the group were conspiracy to remove and destroy files from the draft board, FBI office, and the Army Intelligence office; destruction of government property and interfering with the Selective Service system. If convicted, some of the indicted faced up to 47 years in federal prison. The men and women arrested that summer of ’71 in Camden called themselves “America’s conscience.” The government called them the Camden 28. [Continue reading.]

Zinn explains in the video clip that his job as an expert witness was to explain to the jury that,

these people were doing something part of an honorable tradition in American history. That they weren’t simply criminals. That they were doing what the Boston Tea Party people had did in the American Revolution. They were doing what the people who defied the Fugitive Slave Law Acts and freed slaves before the Civil War did. They were doing what Americans had done all through American history in order to win justice for people . . .

This clip concludes with Zinn reflecting on the antiwar movement’s impact on the verdict of acquittal,

I think that more important than any other factor in determining the outcome of something that happens in a courtroom, is what is happening outside the courtroom. And what is happening outside the courtroom, in this case, is was that the American people had gotten the notion that there was an immoral war, and that that, ultimately, affected everything that went on in this courtroom.

This video of Howard Zinn is raw footage from a reunion for the Camden 28 on May 4, 2002, posted by director Anthony Giacchino.

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