CHAPTER FOUR: Bomb Plot!!! Welcome to the City of Brotherly Love
Pdf file downloadable here
PHILADELPHIA: FALL 1967SPRING 1970
The first time I recall ever hearing the name "Steve Fraser" was in early April 1969. I was riding in a car listening to the local news when a report came on that a leader of Philadelphia SDS had been arrested for plotting to blow up local high schools.
Born in Brooklyn in 1945 to a Communist Party family, Fraser had known Tony Papert at least since they were both students at Long Island's Great Neck South High School. At age 18, Fraser went to Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964.1 In the early-1960s, Fraser and Papert both joined the Progressive Labor Party. While Papert went to Princeton and then Columbia, Fraser enrolled in the City College of New York (CCNY). In August 1966 he was arrested for protesting a HUAC Hearing at which his fellow CCNY Progressive Labor Club leader Rick Rhoads was being interrogated. In 1967, at PL's request, he transferred to Philadelphia's Temple University. His task was to build a new PLP chapter in Philadelphia. Around this time, Fraser took LaRouche's FUNY class on Marx; years later he recalled how LaRouche's "mind-boggling and thrilling" lectures "challenged you existentially."2
Fraser and the tiny proto-Labor Committee Philadelphia group's activities are described in detail in a New Solidarity article by Gordon Fels available in an appendix, so I will not summarize it here.3 What is important to note is that by November 1967 Fraser felt confident enough to create a new study group that became the nucleus of the Philadelphia Labor Committee. The group's first formal meeting took place in December 1967, right around the time that the NY Regional SDS Transit Project was being launched. Fraser next became active in the Regional Office of Philadelphia SDS.4 In the summer of 1968, he and other members of the Philadelphia SDS Labor Committee engaged in heated debates with SDS Praxis advocates Greg Calvert and Carl Davidson, who were spending part of that summer in Philadelphia.
THE PENN STRIKE
By early 1969, the Philadelphia SDS Labor Committee had established a larger political network that helped trigger a six-day student strike at the University of Pennsylvania in late February 1969. From historian Paul Lyons' book The People of This Generation:
One of the most significant later campus struggles in the Philadelphia area took place at the University of Pennsylvania in early 1969. Penn SDS organized a demonstration and march to begin at 11 a.m. in front of College Hall. After some speeches, several hundred marchers made a series of demands in front of the University City Science Center (UCSC), including a call for the return of UCSC properties to the local African-American community; the granting of significant money by UCSC, Penn, and local bankers and realtors for community housing; and, returning to an ongoing concern, a declaration within the UCSC charter that absolutely no military or classified research be tolerated.5
One of the groups leading the protest was the Labor Committee, which Lyons describes this way:
The National Caucus of Labor Committees (NCLC, the Labor Committee) emerged out of a June 1968 SDS national convention and formed committees in New York, Philadelphia, and a few other cities. Its leadership included ex-Trotskyist Lynn Marcus, several activists expelled from the Progressive Labor Party and a group at Columbia University. The Labor Committee became controversial when, during the Ocean Hill-Brownsville struggles over community control of public schools, they sided with the striking American Federation of Teachers [sic].6 As a result they were expelled from SDS; however, they continued to call themselves the SDS Labor Committee in classically Old Left manipulative mode.7
One of their key leaders, Steve Fraser, was a student at Temple University and sparked the growth of organizational support at both Swarthmore and Penn with a sharply ideological, pro-working-class analysis centering on what they called a "socialist re-industrialization" of the economy. The Labor Committee argued in favor of confiscatory taxes on what they perceived as wasteful and parasitic investment. Their sense of certainty, the appearance they gave of being more scientific, that is, more legitimately Marxist-Leninist than their rivals, the specificity of both their analysis and their proposals made the organization attractive to some New Leftists floundering after the self-destruction of SDS and wary of the adventurism of the Weatherman and other factions. The Labor Committee was the most important sectarian force during the sit-in at the University of Pennsylvania.8 (Emphasis added)
Within the strike organization the Labor Committee had its own clear policy. Again from Lyons:
The SDS Labor Committee always saw the issue of demands as "not goals or ends in themselves" but "a mobilization of student forces to be immediately linked as an organizing and rallying point to members of the disorganized and fragmented black community," all to be ultimately linked to the white working class. They wanted to focus attention on the ways the local corporate elite controlled the University City Science Center (UCSC) and, therefore, to hold them fiscally responsible for exploiting local blacks. As such, they demanded that UCSC construction be stopped and that its corporate sponsors provide 1,200 units of low-income housing as part of their reparations. From their perspective, the CA [Christian Association, another radical group] was engaged in liberal cooptation in alliance with the corporate liberal elite, the university administration, SDS and liberal student leaders, and corrupt African-American self-styled leaders.9
Lyons reports that political demands raised by the Philadelphia Labor Committee, along with calls for more direct action, united "radicals and liberals" against "what they perceived as a common enemy: those like the Labor Committee and others, mostly not from Penn, who called for 'barricading' the hall and preparing for violent confrontation." As the "radicals and liberals" worked feverously to make a deal with the administration,
The Labor Committee and other New Left elements were disturbed and sought to disrupt what they saw as a sellout. They criticized Penn SDS for saying, "We don't want another Columbia here." . . . The Labor Committee countered with an Alliance for Jobs, Education, and Housing, which they claimed represented the true interests of area residents and had the support of the local Black Panthers. Over the weekend, as the black community successfully addressed what turned out to be exaggerated Labor Committee assertions of community support, the student negotiators fended off Labor Committee demands, most being voiced by students representing other area colleges. As a result, the Labor Committee people walked out and soon thereafter, the student negotiators achieved consensus. They met with trustees and African-American leaders on Sunday to finalize the agreement, which brought the six-day sit-in to a close. . . . Finally, sensitive to the criticisms from the Labor Committee and others about placing a tax burden on the white working class, the agreement called for new housing to "be funded not at the expense of a wage tax increase . . . nor a general lowering of the standard of living of the people of Philadelphia."10
Lyons then admits that the Penn "victory" was a farce. One liberal Penn student leader he quotes recalled that "nothing was really institutionalized." Lyons concludes that the "trend of inner-city deterioration continued despite the settlements and promises . . . the College Hall sit-in produced more the appearance than the substance of change."11
THE LABOR COMMITTEE LOOKS AT PENN
Needless to say, the Labor Committee interpretation of what happened at Penn differed from the one offered by Lyons. To understand it, one first has to realize that the Philadelphia Labor Committee had developed a close relationship with one wing of the Philadelphia branch of the Black Panther Party (BPP).12 From Berg New Solidarity 1:
Beginning in September 1968, the Philadelphia Labor Committee collaborated with members of the Black Panther Party, doing joint high school organizing with emphasis on publicity for a program for productive jobs, housing and schools, and shifting tax burdens from wage earners to capitalist financiers. This work generally was well publicized on the college campuses as well as in the high schools.
The Labor Committee focused on city high schools in part because the BPP group allied with the Labor Committee was run by a high-school student named Louis "Kentu" Kearney.13 Together with their high-school Panther comrades, the Labor Committee began organizing at Penn around the University City Science Center, which had long been controversial because of its potential use for military research. While the majority of Penn students viewed the UCSC protest strictly from an anti-war perspective, the Labor Committee wanted to make the UCSC a symbol not just of the war but of Penn's real-estate policies towards the surrounding black ghetto, much as the expansion of Columbia's gym into Harlem raised a very similar issue in New York less than a year earlier. From Berg New Solidarity 1:
The Labor Committee therefore proposed to intervene in the potential for a student protest around the Science Center to expose the process of black removal and speculative profit taking. The Labor Committee succeeded in redefining the struggle around the Science Center from merely another campus anti-war protest into a positive struggle for urgently needed housing construction at the expense of real estate speculators represented on the Boards of the University and the Science Center.
The Science Center was just one example of a larger planned expansion into the West Philadelphia ghetto that had begun in 1959 with Penn's establishment of the West Philadelphia Corporation (WPC); other colleges, such as Drexel, later joined in the project. In 1960, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation aided the process of reshaping the ghetto.14 In his 1974 Conceptual History of the Labor Committee, LaRouche writes:
The issue in Philadelphia was a massive housing shortage, unemployment among construction workers, and the looting and destruction of existing owner-occupied housing in West Philadelphia. The perfectly legalized swindle we uncovered was this. Homeowners buying a used car, a television set, or other such credit purchase would wake up one day to find that their home had been sold out from around them at an effectively secret sheriff's sale. At these sheriff's sales, homes tied in as security for a purchase of a used car or television set were auctioned off at a fraction of their purchase cost and market value. The buyers at these auctions were making a proverbial sweet little profit peddling these homes to groups such as those involved in collecting land for expansion of the University of Pennsylvania.
By January 1969 the Labor Committee had propagandized about the Science Center issue not just at Penn but at other area colleges, including Temple, Swarthmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Villanova. Then in late February 1969, Berg reports that the Labor Committee called a demonstration "in which 150 or so students" demanded new housing to be built on the Science Center site. "After picketing the construction site, the demonstrators marched to College Hall, the Penn administrative building, and began a sit-in." Students from other area colleges joined the protest and by the third day there were "more than 1,000 persons" at the sit-in. At the time, Berg estimates, there were only 10 or 12 "hard-core" Labor Committee members with a "broader periphery of at most 30 to 35." In the middle of the strike, Richard Dilworth, the head of the Philadelphia Board of Education, "announced that SDS was infiltrating the high schools, instructing students in the art of bomb-making."
Learning from Columbia, Penn's administration reacted to the protests by recognizing the right of students to negotiate. By so doing, the administration effectively legalized the strike. That maneuver changed the composition of the protest, as many liberal students now joined in. As a result, the Labor Committee-organized network found itself reduced to a minority faction. Berg continues:
The tactic decided upon by the Trustees and city officials was to send their own hired agents into the strike as "black community leaders and representatives." These included Ed Simms, Herman Wrice, and other now-well known government poverty agents who were then working for the University or just getting started in their careers as "pork chops."15 Many of these "leaders" had close organizational and financial ties with the banking and business interests represented by the Board of Trustees. The Trustees contacted these black community parasites during the early days of the strike and promised them juicy loans and government poverty funds in return for their intervention to defuse the student sit-in before it spread.
The intervention of first Ed Simms and then other black-faced agents, plus the entrance of hundreds of liberal students and faculty after the "legalization" of the strike made it possible for a right-wing bloc to emerge . . .
Berg comments that in response "to pleas from Simms and others," the strike dropped its specific demands and instead adopted the view that "the community" would decide how much housing would be built. Thus the strike surrendered its bargaining position to "an unorganized community 'represented' by hirelings of the government." Berg continues:
Once the fix was in, these "community leaders" had to move rapidly. Their first act was to instruct the students not to contact off-campus forces in the labor movement or the ghetto. Under a mountain of "black power" rhetoric, they announced "we are the black community leaders" "if you want to speak to the black community, you must speak with us." The university officials immediately jumped to reinforce the notion by announcing that they would only "negotiate" with "responsible" community leaders like Herman Wrice, Ed Simms . . .
Because the Labor Committee rejected this ploy, it was
expelled from the negotiating team and the strike steering committee, but not before the Black Panthers had forced their way to a microphone to denounce the "black community leaders" as "black pork-chop government agents." The students were stunned.
The university was afraid the situation might really spin out of control, given that according to Berg's report some 200 students were now allied with the Labor Committee-Panther axis and were talking about taking new actions. So the administration worked out a hasty deal. By the sixth day of the sit-in, an announcement came that a settlement had been reached with the strikers and the larger "community":
Climaxing their continuous playing on the white race guilt of the majority of the middle-class students, the black "spokesmen" were easily able to get the majority of the sit-in to approve the settlement, with only the Labor Committee bloc opposing it. The strikers applauded the sell-out all the way out the door.
Paul Lyons also cites a letter to the editor in the 7 March 1969 New Left Notes by Ed Aguilar of Temple SDS, who states that the agreement to end the Penn strike was, in Lyons's summary, "driven by the moderate faculty and community leaders like [Herman] Wrice." The letter further notes "that Penn's Society of African-American Students (SAAS) was not involved in the process. In fact SAAS played a quiet role and helped fend off Labor Committee claims of black support."16
THE ALLIANCE FOR HOUSING, EDUCATION AND JOBS
Whatever its setbacks, the Penn strike further established the Labor Committee as a new force in the Philadelphia Left. From Berg New Solidarity 2:
While the SDS national collective leadership and its local refractions were already discrediting themselves under anarchist influence, the Labor Committee emerged from the Penn sit-in as the dominant, hegemonic force on campuses in the greater Philadelphia area. It had gone into the Penn strike on February 18, 1969, with 12 or so active members and a periphery of 30. It had come out of that strike on February 24 with an active membership of 50-75 and a periphery of several hundred who could be called on for specific tasks. On the one hand, the Labor Committee was known and trusted through the Philadelphia high schools; on the other, all the college campuses were inundated with discussion and debate over the LC's unique Marxist program and world view.
In the wake of the strike, the Philadelphia Labor Committee established the Alliance for Housing, Education, and Jobs. Alliance publications stressed "expanded reproduction" in the form of new schools, housing, and jobs at the expense of speculative capitalist interests.17 Again from Berg New Solidarity 2:
The united front organizational result of the new LC elan was the Alliance for Housing, Education, and Jobs, which included the LC, high school students, and Black Panther members around a political program to meet those needs. Immediately, mass leafleting was begun in the high schools, carried on throughout the month of March, with weekly rallies and meetings of high school students whose attendance totaled in the hundreds. Soon enough the students were writing their own leaflets and calling meetings for other students.
In this manner, the basis was rapidly developing for new mass action coming from the high schools, this time around a six-point program: 1) Don't close the schools as the Board of Education planned in April for lack of funds; 2) Build 33 new schools immediately; 3) Expand job-training, remedial, and college-preparatory programs for high schoolers; 4) Provide paid college education for all high school graduates who want to go but can't afford it; 5) Guarantee productive well-paying jobs in school and housing construction programs; 6) No taxes on wages; tax financial speculation and waste -- $400 million annually in real estate, $100 million annually in school board and city government bonds, etc.
The tactical aim of this work was not to produce a high school student strike as an end in itself but to mobilize campus and high school forces simultaneously to serve as a rallying point for broader layers of the over-taxed working population in a city suffering a severe shortage in housing and educational facilities. Campus forces together with black high school youth would use the above program to reach out to the entire community, thereby become [a] mass movement including broader sections of the labor movement. To thus link up one section of wage-earners with another on a common programmatic basis was again the aim of the intensive LC work in the month after the Penn strike.
With the Alliance campaign, the Philadelphia Labor Committee now had a platform to extend its influence even deeper into the city's politics. The police knew it as well and they now began targeting potential "troublemakers" with a vengeance, especially Kearny. From Berg New Solidarity 2:
Lewis [sic] Kearny, then the leading Philadelphia BPP collaborator with the LC, was met at his home and elsewhere by police several times for harassing, questioning, and threatening. The Panthers had almost turned the tide in the otherwise aborted Penn strike and their collaboration in the mounting Alliance drive with the LC insured that the pleasure of city officials and prominent financial interests over the demise of the Penn strike would be short-lived.
FOUNDING "THE NATIONAL CAUCUS OF SDS LABOR COMMITTEES"
In spite of the partial defeat at Penn, the Labor Committee's growing confidence was shown when the New York and Philadelphia SDS Labor Committees held their first national conference on 29 March 1969 on Penn's campus. In the 1988 edition of The Power of Reason, (117), LaRouche reports that the first discussion of the need for the establishment of the organization on a national level "occurred during January 1969 at a meeting to discuss this option held on the University of Pennsylvania campus." The more formal March conference was made necessary in part by the fact that new Labor Committee locals now became active in cities like Boston, Baltimore, Ithaca, and Rochester. The new organization took on a new name, the National Caucus of SDS Labor Committees. Following the collapse of SDS that summer, the group dropped "SDS" from its title and now became known as the National Caucus of Labor Committees (NCLC).
In the first week of April, a new protest broke out at Temple University. At issue was a long-standing conflict over Temple's expansion into the North Philadelphia ghetto and the resulting displacement of black tenants. Groups like CORE had long been critical of Temple's real estate policies.18 It seems likely that the Penn strike and the Labor Committee demands concerning the Science Center in particular may have helped reignite a new wave of protests at Temple or at least may have forced the local activist community there to again take on Temple's real estate policies, if only not to be outflanked politically by the Labor Committee. Once the new Temple protests began, the Labor Committee swiftly moved in. Berg writes that "In the first week of April 1969, the Philadelphia LC entered the nascent Temple movement immeasurably strengthened in comparison with the pre-Penn Strike period."
Yet Temple would prove a far more complex challenge than Penn. Berg writes that to counteract the Labor Committee's "Alliance" organizing on campus, "Jim Williams and other local [Ron] Karenga types jumped into the situation in a desperate attempt to suppress the community's aspirations by slandering those whom it looked to for leadership." Berg describes Jim Williams as "a self-proclaimed 'black community leader,' OEO organizer and former head of the City Hall-financed Philadelphia Tutorial Project . . ." Williams was best known as a leader of Philadelphia CORE. He took over Philadelphia CORE around the time of the 1964 North Philadelphia riot. He worked closely with an organization that today has almost disappeared from view but at the time was a competitor of sorts to SDS. This was the Northern Student Movement (NSM).
THE NORTHERN STUDENT MOVEMENT NETWORK
The Northern Student Movement (NSM) began in 1961 at Yale University. Informally known as the "Friends of SNCC," it was founded by Peter Countryman, who was then close to a group called the Student Christian Movement of New England. One of the NSM's early supporters was Tom Gilhool, then a Yale Law School student and a member of the National Student Association (NSA).19 Gilhool later moved to Philadelphia and became one of the first heads of the NSM Tutoring Project in the city. As a "New Priorities" Democrat, he later ran against Steve Fraser in a 1969 local city council election; both men lost to the Democratic machine candidate.20
The NSM held its founding national conference at Sarah Lawrence College in 1962. Besides serving as a support group for SNCC, NSM worked closely with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. In 1963 a black Harvard graduate named William (Bill) Strickland became NSM's national leader and the group relocated its headquarters to New York City. The NSM received funding from leading liberal foundations, including the Ford Foundation, the Field Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, among many others.21 It became best known for organizing a tutoring project for inner-city schoolchildren.
Paul Lyons reports that in the mid-1960s:
NSM's executive director, Peter Countryman, a charismatic, idealist activist who took a leave of absence from Yale to work full time in the movement, took charge of the Philadelphia [tutorial] project, which had extensive sponsorship from liberal churches, the school board, the Commission on Human Relations, and the Catholic archdiocese. Countryman recruited twenty activists and hired 175 tutors to work in nineteen centers, mostly located in North Philadelphia but with some initial efforts to establish centers in Chester. As such, when Swarthmore [SDS] ERAP [Economic Research and Action Project] began to engage with Chester's black community, they discovered a rival with institutional resources and a short but impressive track record of accomplishments.22
The NSM's national leadership included Kenneth Clark's son Hilton Clark, who led Columbia's black student association (SAS) in 1966. A description of NSM's history in the New York Public Library's archive guide to its NSM holdings explains that:
NSM's shift in 1965 to an all-Black organization came with a shift in orientation from civil rights to Black Nationalism. "Protest qua protest has failed to effect substantive change in the country," Strickland wrote in August 1964, adding that the civil rights movement had failed Black people and was only "playing at freedom." NSM would now become an arm of the "national movement of Black people to acquire power," and a national Afro-American Student Conference was held in Philadelphia in May 1966 to discuss the role of Black students in the movement. NSM's new goal was to build community organizations toward "a relevant movement in the ghettos of the North" and "to develop the political consciousness of the masses so that urban democracy can become a reality" (Strickland to Ella Baker, May 6, 1965). A Black People's Unity Movement was launched to attract Black professionals, businessmen and affluent Blacks to the movement, and thus make up for the loss of white funding, "with teas, socials, garden-parties and other sordid activities to which the Black bourgeoisie is prone" (Hilton Clark to John Churchville, July 11, 1966). A Black Unity rally in Philadelphia in February 1966 drew 2,000 participants. NSM was still active in 1967 in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Detroit.
As SNCC and other groups embraced Black Power, it became increasingly difficult for an organization like NSM which was founded to help promote integration to run its projects with white leadership. If Berg is correct, the Philadelphia Tutoring Project leadership was now turned over to Jim Williams to administer.
In the wake of the November 1967 black-led school board protests in Philadelphia, the NSM helped found "People for Human Rights" (PHR) in the winter of 1967-68 as a "white" support group for black protesters. While some PHR members became more radical over time Countryman, for example, joined a Venceremos Brigade group that went to Cuba in 1970 while other PHR organizers embraced Maoism NSM activists like Gilhool remained firmly anchored in the "New Politics" reform wing of the Democratic Party.23
The PHR/NSM network soon developed close ties to the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO) and to a controversial local Philadelphia black radical named Mohammad Kenyatta.24 PHR/NSM sponsored workshops to "train members in black history and anti-racism" and it helped organize demonstrations.25 Kenyatta then became the new head of SNCC leader James Forman's Black Economic Development Conference (BEDC). On 26 April 1969, Forman went public with his "Black Manifesto." It demanded that whites pay reparations to blacks, declared blacks as the "Vanguard Force," and advocated "an armed confrontation and long years of sustained guerrilla warfare . . . dedicated to building a socialist society" in which "white people . . . must be willing to accept black leadership."26 The PHR network partly overlapped with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)-supported "Resistance" anti-draft and anti-war movement in Philadelphia as well.
TROUBLE AT TEMPLE
When the Philadelphia Labor Committee intervened in Temple, it encountered the very sophisticated "liberal-radical" NSM network. The last thing the NSM wanted to see was the Labor Committee playing a larger role in the world of Philadelphia radicalism. Berg reports that Williams even repeated the claim invented by the Philadelphia police that the Labor Committee had distributed a "how-to-make Molotov Cocktails" pamphlet to high school students. From Berg New Solidarity 2:
The Temple students were temporarily disoriented, both by this accusation [the Molotov cocktail story] and the announcement that Williams and the Temple Black Student League were already "successfully" negotiating with the trustees for not housing since "the black community is not interested in material objects; materialism is the whitey's bag" but for "representation" on a university-controlled "umbrella organization" to oversee the development of a black "shopping center," etc.
Campus forces, by and large credulous in the face of a black-skinned speaker covering such blatantly self-interested "black capitalism" with a mountain of militant-sounding jive-talk, were successfully left confused by this ploy. "Just what does the community want? Housing or community control?"27
Using its Alliance network, the Labor Committee organized a small sit-in at Temple. The Labor Committee/Alliance also held meetings in the North Philadelphia ghetto that Berg reports were "often disrupted by Williams and his thugs." Although the Temple sit-in attracted an estimated 50 or so supporters, it failed to catch fire.28 The Labor Committee leadership then called off the protest until it could mobilize more outside support. Berg concludes his history of Temple:
On the evening of April 8, 1969, nearly 60 black working people appeared at a church to endorse LC-Alliance efforts, and the meeting proceeded to make plans for further visible community actions in an attempt to overcome campus disorientation and inertia.
These activities never occurred. The following day, April 9, 1969, Philadelphia Labor Committee members Steve Fraser and Richard Borg[h]mann were arrested in a spectacular police raid on their apartment, charged with plotting to blow up national monuments, and sent to jail in the midst of a front-page newspaper smear regarding their "terrorist activities" in North Philadelphia.
As the Labor Committee organized in Philadelphia, it was constantly shadowed by the Police Department's "red squad," officially known as the Civil Defense (CD) Squad but also referred to as the Civil Disobedience Squad.29 According to the historian Sean Patrick Griffin, the CD Squad was founded some years earlier:
Police-minority relations were strained for a host of reasons, and this was exacerbated in 1964 with the creation of the department's Civil Defense (CD) Squad in response to the civil disturbances [in particular the 1964 "riot" in North Philadelphia HH]. The CD Squad was designed to "muzzle a growing number of public demonstrations without confrontation" but quickly expanded its mission. It gained a reputation for developing informants, whose mandate was primarily to infiltrate so-called radical groups. CD officers, and at times their wives, were also to mingle with the radicals to develop intelligence. Undercover CD officers primarily targeted groups thought to be espousing Communist ideals, but they also infiltrated their share of Black Nationalist groups, including the burgeoning Nation of Islam. The Squad also enjoyed the cooperation of the FBI, which often shared intelligence and provided information.30
The CD unit was run by Lieutenant George Fencl, dubbed "Fencl the Pencil" by the Labor Committee. He appears to have gotten his nickname because he carried a black notebook and wrote in it while monitoring demonstrations. But Fencl was much more than just a local Philly cop; he was the city's liaison to a larger Federal intelligence operation coordinated by the FBI. This network now began a direct assault on Labor Committee organizing.
In February 1969, the Philadelphia police arrested eight members of the Labor Committee for distributing leaflets about the UCSC protests in front of two West Philadelphia public schools. Commissioner Rizzo justified the arrests by charging that evidence existed indicating that the Labor Committee was planning to blow up public schools, a ludicrous charge in light of the strikingly anti-adventurist public policy of this very small group.31
Historian Frank Donner notes that the leaflets were captioned "Help the Fight against the University City Science Center at Penn." He reports that the eight arrested Labor Committee members were taken to the Police Administration Building, "interrogated, photographed, required to provide information" and detained for three hours before being released.32
THE MYSTERY OF "YOUR MANUAL"
Richardson Dilworth, president of the Philadelphia Board of Education, now publicly claimed that "SDS" was planning to infiltrate the high schools and blow up several of them. Steve Fraser went on radio and TV to refute the charges. Then on 30 March, Philadelphia's notorious Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo billy-sticked his way into the controversy, as Donner reports in his book Protectors of Privilege:
In March, Rizzo charged that the NCLC organizers were subverting the high schools and plotting to blow them up. He "documented" his charge with Your Manual, a pamphlet on how to make bombs and Molotov cocktails, which he reproduced in quantity for the local media and circulated with a memorandum stating: "The Students for a Democratic Society is the moving force behind the circulation of this booklet in Philadelphia."
In fact, the pamphlet was published in San Francisco and referred to the local San Francisco scene only and was obviously not intended for use outside of that city. It had been seized and distributed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to urban police chiefs: the real "moving force behind the circulation of this booklet in Philadelphia" was Rizzo himself. In a letter to the Philadelphia ACLU dated 11 April 1969, he justified his action by saying that he knew the pamphlet had been distributed at an NCLC meeting in Philadelphia as recommended reading and he believed that "it is in the interest of the people of this city for them to be aware of the actions advocated by groups within our society." Rizzo refused to disclose the source of his knowledge of SDS's use of the pamphlet.
The attempt to attribute this how-to-do-it manual to the NCLC was marked by a particularly offensive irony. Rizzo had in the past confined himself to targets whose style and rhetoric might create an expectation of violence. But the NCLC had fought factions in the student movement and the SDS that were committed to anarchist-terrorist methods: it favored coalition politics, mass pressure, and ameliorating legislative programs. In short, the political police of Philadelphia attributed a revolutionary bomb plot to a group that had come into being and defined itself by rejection of bomb plots as a political instrument.
The Labor Committee gathering that Rizzo claimed circulated Your Manual as "recommended reading" and which he reported was attended by 25 SDS members was actually the founding convention of the new "National Caucus of SDS Labor Committees"!33
Rizzo's "facts" were quickly called into question. From Berg New Solidarity 2:
One newsman documented the fact that the pamphlet in question had been handed out by an unhinged anarchist sect in California, confiscated, and sent to Rizzo and other police chiefs throughout the country by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, for judicious local use.34
BLOWING UP THE LIBERTY BELL?
On the night of 9 April 1969, ten officers from Fencl's CD Squad raided Fraser and Borghmann's apartment.35 (Dick Borghmann was a Swarthmore student at the time.36) The police claimed that they discovered in their kitchen "an eight-ounce can of Dupont Rifle Powder, three six inch by three-quarter inch outside-diameter pipes, each equipped with a hole bored in the center of the pipe, six metal pipe caps, a ten-ounce container labeled 'Olde English Tavenders Fruit Flavored Drops,' which contained a plastic explosive known as C-4 and about a six-inch length of red-orange dynamite fuse." The police said they found this anarchist gift basket either in or under the refrigerator.37 Yet somehow the police forgot to dust for fingerprints. When questioned why in court, Fencl replied, "We just did not do it."38
The Labor Committee terrorists seemed shockingly slow on the uptake. As the Labor Committee's Fraser-Borgmann [sic] Defense Committee (FBDC) pamphlet later pointed out, how believable was it that a group that had first been publicly accused in February about its devious plans to bomb Philadelphia high schools would prove so obtuse as to hide its cache of deadly explosives in the refrigerator of its leader's apartment?
Instead of just limiting the bomb plot to a cautionary tale of local SDS gone mad, Fencl escalated the attack. At a bail hearing, Fencl claimed that the NCLC was part of an "East Coast Bomb Conspiracy." Based in Boston, the conspirators targeted national monuments in Boston and Philadelphia for future annihilation. Was the Liberty Bell now slated to become the Philadelphia Labor Committee's first victim?
From a 1971 Court summary of the case:
The first information that he [Fencl] had received "was maybe around the 15th or 16th of March." "Maybe a day or two" before March 26th, his informant told him that he had seen explosives in the apartment. Starting on March 26th, and until the search, on April 9th, the police had the apartment under surveillance. On the evening of April 7th, Lieutenant Fencl received a telephone call to the effect that
"The FBI was keeping in daily touch with the SDS, and had a tip it had plans to destroy by explosion places in Philadelphia and Boston . . ." On the morning of April 8th, he "received a copy of a bulletin." Evidently this was an FBI teletype and referred to a meeting on March 30th in Boston touching the use of explosives by SDS . . . "for the bombing of Historical buildings. It said that Historic sights [sic] in Boston and Philadelphia should be blown up. They included Harvard University, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, University Hall at Boston University, Old South Meeting, the Old State House, Boston, and the Nathan Hale Statue."
Defendants were not named as having attended this meeting.
Fencl's decision to link the Labor Committee to a larger conspiracy clearly seems part of a broader FBI operation to destroy the Labor Committee that included the creation of the FBI's COINTELPRO "Mouse Crap Revolution" in New York at almost the exact same time.39 Right after the arrests, Philadelphia papers like the right-wing Daily News ran front page headlines that proclaimed "College Rebels Held as Raiders Find 'Makings of Bombs'" and "Rebel Students Plot to Blow Up Phila. Historical Shrines Revealed by Police."40
PANTHERS TO THE RESCUE?
Just a few days before the Philadelphia arrests, the FBI charged the New York "Panther 21" with an eerily similar-sounding plot. On 2 April 1969, twenty-one members of the New York Black Panther Party were arrested and charged with an outlandish conspiracy to blow up major New York City department stores, a police station, and even the New York Botanical Gardens. The attack on the Panthers was coordinated with BOSSI (Bureau of Special Services and Information), the New York police equivalent of Fencl's CD. Like the Philadelphia CD, BOSSI maintained the close ties to the FBI and other federal law enforcement authorities.
Based on these developments, Fraser with the full support of the Labor Committee leadership decided to approach the Oakland headquarters of the Panthers and propose some kind of joint political defense. When asked in Court about how the idea of contacting the Panthers arose, Fraser replied:
Well, we had been framed here in Philadelphia for the charges that we are discussing now and the Black Panther Party in our opinion has been similarly framed and we felt that we had a common interest in joining together with them to defend ourselves and other people in the country faced with a similar problem.
Q Who gave you the specific idea . . .?
A. Oh, it was my idea . . . .
In late April Fraser headed West to meet the Panthers. From the court transcript:
On April 23rd, defendant Fraser went to New York City, from which he flew to San Francisco, where he was met by members of the Black Panther Party, who took him to Berkeley, where he met Panther leaders Bobby Seale and David Hilliard, either on April 24th about midnight or in the early hours of April 25th, after which he flew back to New York City, returning to Philadelphia on April 26th.41
(At the time Huey Newton was still in jail.)
During the trip, Fraser said he was shadowed by a black undercover Philadelphia police agent working on assignment for the FBI. Under cross-examination Fraser said that he had heard:
A . that the FBI requested of the local Civil Disobedience Squad
Q. Philadelphia Police Department?
A. Of the Philadelphia Police Department that since they; the FBI; didn't have a black agent available would the Civil Disobedience Squad provide one to trail me to the West Coast.
Q. And to your information, did it indicate whether the Civil Disobedience Squad of the Philadelphia Police Department honored the request of the FBI for a black Philadelphia Policeman?
A. Yes; my information is they honored the request.
Q. Does your information indicate whether or not that Philadelphia Policeman did in fact follow you to San Francisco?
On re-cross-examination; the assistant district attorney asked defendant the source of his information that he had been followed. Defendant's counsel's objection was sustained and defendant was not required to answer; the court considering that since the Commonwealth was resisting disclosure of its confidential informant, it was only fair; temporarily at least; to allow defendant's informant to remain undisclosed.42
Fraser, however, found that he could get nowhere with the Panthers. Years later he recalled about the Panthers: "They were so paranoid; I remember they picked us up and blindfolded us so we wouldn't know where their hideout was. . . . In the end, they just didn't trust us."43
"POLICE AGENTS"?: TOM HAYDEN AND THE REVENGE OF SDS
Not long after the Oakland meeting, the Panthers moved nationally to cut off all ties to the Labor Committee. Around this same time (May-June 1969), for example, Zeke Boyd was told by the head of the Baltimore Black Panthers that if he didn't stop collaborating with the Labor Committee group in Baltimore, he would be expelled from the Panthers.44
The Panther decision seems to have been informed by input from their allies in the "white Left." It appears that the Panthers were told that the Labor Committee was some weird offshoot of the "racist" Progressive Labor Party, which by April 1969 had launched its own war against any and all forms of black nationalism that PL now considered reactionary. And hadn't the Labor Committee supported the racist UFT against the black community in the Fall 1968 UFT strike?
New Solidarity singled out Tom Hayden in particular and claimed that Hayden helped steer the Panthers away from any joint defense actions. Hayden, as it so happened, knew the Labor Committee very well. When Columbia exploded in April 1968, Hayden left his community organizing project in Newark and set up shop in Mathematics Hall. He later relocated to the Berkeley/Oakland area and established his own commune known as the Red Family. While a member of the Red Family, Hayden regularly engaged in "military" preparations that included marching and learning how to shoot guns. A firm supporter of the Weatherman/NO faction against PL, in late 1969 he attended the notorious Weatherman "War Council" in Flint, Michigan, where Bernardine Dohrn famously praised the Manson Family for killing Sharon Tate.
According to an article in the 15-18 March 1971 New Solidarity:
Immediately after the April 8 [sic] arrests, not only did the socialist organizations refuse to come to the [support] of the Labor Committee's frame up victims, but, according to Bobby Seale and others, the national SDS leadership acting through Tom Hayden pressured the national Black Panther leadership to order a break-off in relations with the Labor Committees. Only a handful of local Philadelphia liberals came to the Labor Committee's aid in April and March 1969.
In a New Solidarity article penned on 14 May 1971, just one day after the Philadelphia legal hearings on the Fraser-Borghmann case, Dick Sober wrote about the once-secret talks between Fraser and the Panthers:
Actually, it is important that this attempted defense work between the Panthers and the Labor Committee be widely discussed for fear of sabotage by pro-Weatherman groupings and other anarchist opponents of the Labor Committee within SDS. Eventually the coalition effort was wrecked by SDS leader Tom Hayden, who told Panther leadership that the Labor Committee members were "police agents."
National SDS also refused to give any publicity, much less material support, to Fraser and Borghmann. The SDS blackout meant that very few people outside of the Philadelphia area even knew about the arrests. To counter the blackout, Fraser went on a national tour and spoke at Boston with Noam Chomsky, one of the endorsers of the Labor Committee-organized "National Commission of Inquiry" into the case.
Although the Philadelphia Labor Committee had some remarkable successes in 1969, it learned some hard lessons as well. The organization managed to expand the Penn strike beyond a typical anti-war protest only to be outfoxed by the liberal student majority, "Black Power militants," and a clever administration. When the Labor Committee next tried to intervene in Temple, it faced an even more hostile environment. Just when the Labor Committee began to regroup for a more intensive organizing drive at Temple, Frank Rizzo's Philadelphia police department, in alliance with the FBI, savagely moved to dismantle the tiny organization.45
Yet there was one school where the Labor Committee met with spectacular success. It happened to be the same school that "bomb plot" arrestee Richard Borghmann was enrolled in at the time of his arrest. That school was Swarthmore College. To complete our history of the early Philadelphia Labor Committee, it is to bucolic Swarthmore College that we must now turn.
1 Jonathan Valania, "The Phantom Bomb Plot of 1969," PW (Philadelphia Weekly), 22 December 2009.
2 Dennis King, Lyndon LaRouche and the New American Fascism (NY: Doubleday, 1989), 14.
3 See excerpts from the Fels' article in the appendix "The Labor Committee and the Crisis in SDS" at http://laroucheplanet.info/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Library.HIABChapter3Appendix1TextsUFTSDS. There are two other key texts on the early Philadelphia Labor Committee by a Swarthmore student named Vin Berg. They were part of the "History of the Labor Committee" series. The articles are "The History of the Labor Committee (Part Six): The Making and the Breaking of the Penn Strike" which appeared in the 26 March 2 April issue of New Solidarity and a follow up article (Part 7) entitled "From U. of Penn Sit-in to Bomb-Plot Arrests," which was published in the 12-18 April 1971 issue. For convenience sake, I will refer to them as Berg New Solidarity 1 and Berg New Solidarity 2.
4 Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS (New York: Random House, 1973), 482.
5 Paul Lyons, The People of This Generation: The Rise and Fall of the New Left in Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 210. Lyons' book gives a very good overview of the Philadelphia New Left. He points out that the Philly Left was dominated by the elite campuses on the one hand and the Quaker-driven anti-war "Resistance" movement on the other. Philadelphia radicalism was monopolized to a surprising degree not by Marxist jargon but by an earlier New Left "moral resistance" tradition. Nor was there much of a counter-culture in Philadelphia, unlike in New York and San Francisco. He is very good as well on the different factions in the Penn strike.
For a closer look at the internal debates during the Penn strike, see "Labor Committee tax position called irrelevant" by Charles Krause and Stanley Berke, The Daily Pennsylvanian, 24 February 1969 and available at http://dparchives.library.upenn.edu/cgi-bin/pennsylvania?a=d&d=tdp19690224-01.2.5. This documents an attack on the Labor Committee position by left-liberal professors at Penn including Ed Herman as well as Richard Duboff of Haverford. They were allied with the student factions in Penn that pushed out Labor Committee members from the strike leadership.
For LC continuing organizing in Philadelphia to implement its program, see Muffin Friedman, "SDS Labor: the campaign," The Daily Pennsylvanian, 1 July 1969 and available at http://dparchives.library.upenn.edu/cgi-bin/pennsylvania?a=d&d=tdp19690701-01.2.33.
The way the Labor Committee used the strike at Swarthmore, see Vin Berg and Bob Mueller, "Science Center Provides Pork Barrel, Swarthmore Links to Speculation Seen," 10 December 1969 Swarthmore Phoenix, and available at http://triptych.brynmawr.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/SC_Phoenix/id/16628/rec/44. Also see "SDS Attacks S'more UCSC Ties, Begins Action to End Holdings," in the same issue of the Phoenix.
In essence, the SDS Labor Committee group in Philadelphia tried to use the model of Columbia to spread the strike into the large black ghetto community surrounding Penn, just as Tony Papert had unsuccessfully tried to get PL to do at the time of the Columbia strike.
The FBI-allied Philadelphia Police CID (Civil Disturbance Squad) led by George Fencl followed the SDS Labor Committee very closely almost from the beginning. For example, at one point the LC wanted to stage a protest at a local sheriff's sale of tax-delinquent property on 2 December 1968 as part of the larger project to link student protest with the larger community. Informants told the CID about the proposed demo which may have been planned to include symbolic arrests. The police so mobilized in force, however, that the protesters were intimidated most likely by fear of being brutally assaulted. See James Kirkpatrick Davis, Assault on the Left: The FBI and the Sixties Antiwar Movement, (Westport, Conn.: Praeger Press, 1997), p. 124.
For a breakdown of Philadelphia SDS as a whole, see Joan Rieder, "SDS: To each, his own faction," in the 3 November 1969 The Daily Pennsylvanian, p. 10, and available at http://www.library.upenn.edu/docs/kislak/dp/1969/1969_11_03.pdf.
6 The union was called the United Federation of Teachers. It was, however, the New York branch of the larger American Federation of Teachers. It was named the United Federation of Teachers because two separate teacher groups united to form the union in the early 1960s.
7 Lyons' description clearly draws on Kirkpatrick Sale's book SDS.
8 Lyons, 213-14.
9 Ibid., 213.
10 Ibid., 214-15.
11 Ibid., 215.
12 For the complicated history of the Philadelphia Panthers, see the appendix "The Red and the Black" at http://laroucheplanet.info/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Library.HIABChapter4AppendixBlackPanthers.
13 His first name is also spelled "Lewis" in some of the texts. I am spelling his name "Louis" which, I believe, is the correct spelling.
14 See Omari Dyson, The Life and Work of the Philadelphia Black Panthers, a 2008 PhD. thesis from Purdue University, 60. It is available at http://www.scribd.com/doc/66431591/The-Life-and-Work-of-the-Philadelphia-Black-Panthers.
15 Herman Wrice later endorsed Frank Rizzo for mayor. On Wrice, see http://articles.philly.com/1991-06-18/news/25788543_1_first-black-mayor-herman-wrice-black-voters. For an obituary of Wrice, see http://poweltonvillage.org/profiles/herman_wrice.html.
Simms was a member of the Afro-Centric Philadelphia Temple of the Black Messiah, an organization that may have had ties to the old Marcus Garvey movement. He seems best known for inventing the UMOJA KARAMU Festival for Black Unity in 1971. This festival was meant to strengthen unity in the black family. On the Philadelphia Temple of the Black Messiah, see http://www.rasben.net/links/website/links/articles/white%20stone.htm :
The Temple of the Black Messiah is an African-Centered congregation founded by Honorable Ishakamusa Barashango in Philadelphia, PA. The Honorable Barashango (April 27, 1938 January 14, 2004) is author of Afrikan People and European Holidays: A Mental Genocide Book One & Two; God, the Bible and the Black Man's Destiny; Afrikan Genesis: Amazing Stories of Man's Beginnings; and Afrikan Woman: The Original Guardian Angel. The Temple of the Black Messiah congregates in the Universal Negro Improvement Associations (UNIA) Headquarters on Cecil B. Moore Street in Philadelphia, PA. The UNIA was founded by the Honorable Marcus Garvey, and Philadelphia has one of the oldest chapters, headed by the Elder Redman Battle.
Mumia Abu-Jamal's sister Lydia was married to Barashango.
16 Lyons also references an article in the 25 March 1969 issue of the Daily Pennsylvanian (the Penn student paper) that suggests that SAAS then used its leverage to negotiate for a black studies program at Penn.
17 For example, as the Alliance in Philadelphia was being formed, in New York the Labor Committee held an 11 March 1969 meeting at Columbia (the meeting that Mark Rudd tried to disrupt) with these demands:
1. That Rockefeller stop the State Office Building and that he build a new high school and low-rent housing on the site at 125th St. and 7th Ave.
2. That Lindsay build 23 new high schools.
3. A college education or a job with $100 a week minimum wage for every high school student.
4. That the money for this come from taxing landlords and banks, not working people.
In other words, the Philadelphia and New York Labor Committees had an identical political perspective.
18 For example, some years earlier Temple created a study group to examine the North Philadelphia ghetto. Black leaders were shocked to find out there was not a single black person in the group.
19 Gilhool held an MA in political science from Yale and was a Fulbright scholar at the University of London specializing in town planning. From 1966 to 1969, he worked as director of the law reform office of Community Legal Services in Philadelphia. He is best known for his pioneering legal work in disability rights.
20 In 1968 Gilhool unsuccessfully ran for Philadelphia City Council. In November 1969, both Fraser and Gilhool ran for city council. Fraser ran on the "Alliance Party" ticket. The Alliance Party was the political wing of the Labor Committee's "Alliance for Housing, Education, and Jobs." Gilhool ran as the "New Priorities" candidate. Jim Williams worked on Gilhool's campaign.
During the petitioning process there was some alleged petitioning fraud carried out by someone linked to the Alliance Party. According to the 15-19 March 1971 New Solidarity,
a small portion of the Alliance Party's nominating petitions were compromised, although a sufficient number of the nominating petitions remained untainted by the undercover agent's false statements. Scarcely a single liberal or radical in Philadelphia would join the Labor Committee in protesting this frame up. This lack of support was assumed to be prompted by widespread liberal and "socialist" support to the New Priorities candidacy of Gilhool, running against the Alliance Party's ticket in the electoral district.
On this incident from the Labor Committee's perspective, see the Muffin Friedman/Kathy Murphey article in the 16 October 1969 issue of 34th Street available at http://www.library.upenn.edu/docs/kislak/dp/1969/1969_10_16.pdf. Also see HIAB Appendix B on Steve Fraser and the faction fight in the NCLC at http://laroucheplanet.info/pmwiki/pmwiki.php?n=Library.HIABChapter6Appendix2Bavarians-PPT.
21 See the listing of the NSM archive at the New York Public Library on the web.
22 Lyons, 44. The Chester NSM project was called the Committee for Freedom Now (CFFN). It was led by Stanley Branche, who later headed the Black Coalition. (For more, see the appendix "The Red and the Black" on the Philadelphia Black Panthers.) The CFFN was aided by some Swarthmore students and the historian Paul Lyons says that the Chester CFFN model helped inspire the creation of SDS's ERAP (Economic Research and Action Project). As for Branche and his conflict with Swarthmore ERAP, see Lyons, 46-47.
23 A third organization would emerge from the Resistance/PHR network: the Movement for a New Society (MNS). MNS drew its initial strength from one of the groups that helped make up Philadelphia Resistance known as A Quaker Action Group (AQAG). In the American Friends Service Committee-supported Resistance, many of the paid staff members did not share the Quakers' religious beliefs. They tended to be more favorable to Marxism. AQAG/MNS, however, proved much more comfortable with both pacifism and the counter-cultural New Left. In the 1970s MNS advocated the "de-development" of America and other Western societies. In Philadelphia, MNS was organized through a series of communes. On MNS, see Andrew Cornell, Oppose and Propose: Lessons from Movement for a New Society, (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2011).
24 In March 1973 members of this same network helped lead protests outside Temple University against the Labor Committee-organized National Unemployed and Welfare Rights Organization (NUWRO), which held its founding national convention at Temple which they saw as a threat to NWRO. On Kenyatta, see http://articles.philly.com/1992-01-07/news/26035825_1_white-churches-reparations-philadelphia-presbytery and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Kenyatta.
25 Lyons, 177-179.
26 Ibid., 184-85.
27 One leading anti-Labor Committee spokesman at Temple was Eddie Jones, whom Berg describes as Williams' sidekick. Jones attacked the Labor Committee for "dividing the black community" in a debate with Fraser. I have been unable to find out more about him.
28 For the estimated number, see Valania. Also recall that not all of the 50 were actual Temple students.
29 It was later renamed the Civil Affairs Unit (CAU).
30 Sean Patrick Griffin, Black Brothers Inc. The Violent Rise and Fall of Philadelphia's Black Mafia (Wrea Green, England: Milo Books Ltd, 2005), 14-15.
31 Lyons, 216.
32 Frank Donner, Protectors of Privilege (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 211.
33 Rizzo said the pamphlet "had been handed out at Penn the previous day, where the Labor Committees were holding their first national conference." Berg New Solidarity 2.
34 The origin of Your Manual remains mysterious to this day. What is known is that it was a seven page text published by the non-existent "3" R News Service and it was advertised as "Volume 1, Number 1." It first showed up on the campus of San Francisco State. Besides talk about bombs, guns, and disabling police horses, it promised future issues dealing with targeted political assassinations.
35 Jane "Muffin" Friedman and Paul Milkman also were arrested in Fraser and Borghmann's apartment during the 1969 "bomb plot" raid. Milkman at the time worked in a library at Columbia University, while the 19-year-old Friedman was a student at Penn. Because Friedman and Milkman simply happened to be visiting the apartment when the raid took place, they were eventually released. They left the Labor Committee in the February-March 1971 split, along with Fraser and Borghmann.
For more on the aftermath of the raid, see Bob Hoffman, "SDS labor heads freed on bail," The Daily Pennsylvanian, 14 April 1969 and available at http://www.library.upenn.edu/docs/kislak/dp/1969/1969_04_14.pdf.
36 Note that Dick Borghmann's name is almost inevitably spelled "Borgmann" in the literature of the period, including in Labor Committee literature. It may well be that he spelled his name "Borgmann" himself but that he never legally changed the spelling so in court the name is spelled "Borghmann." In any case, I am using the name as spelled in the court documents for consistency but the name very often appears spelled "Borgmann." The name is also spelled "Borghmann" throughout the recent Philadelphia Weekly story although one illustration has the name wrongly spelled as "Borgman."
37 Quoted from Bomb Plot Conspiracy, a pamphlet the Labor Committee produced most likely in 1969 but possibly 1970. The pamphlet comes with a front page statement from Noam Chomsky, Douglas Dowd, Eugene Genovese, Christopher Lasch, and Howard Zinn endorsing the establishment of a "National Commission of Inquiry to hear and judge evidence of, police frame-up and pending Philadelphia 'conspiracy' trial of Steve Fraser and Richard Borgmann."
To this day there remains disagreement between Fraser on the one hand and Friedman, Milkman, and Borghmann on the other about what the police actually did. Fraser believes that when the group was out of the apartment a police agent entered and planted the incriminating material in the refrigerator. After the group returned, the police rushed in and "found" the planted evidence. The other three dispute this and argue that on the day of the raid they were not out of the apartment long enough for this to have occurred.
In the Bomb Plot pamphlet, the argument made is that the police came in, blocked off any view of the kitchen area, and then "discovered" the bomb making material. However in his 1974 Conceptual History, LaRouche follows Fraser when he writes about the raid: "At a convenient opportunity, a police officer entered the premises and planted a metal candy box of what was reported to be some sort of 'plastique' inside the refrigerator. Shortly after the occupants and their guests returned that evening, they were invaded by a force consisting of the CD Squad and a TV camera." The police also arranged for a cameraman from a local Philadelphia TV station to accompany them in the raid.
38 Donner, 213.
39 The Philadelphia police collaboration with the FBI is indicated in additional excerpts from the transcript of hearings from 13 May 1971 on the Fraser-Borghmann case, known as COMMONWEALTH VS. BORGHMANN. (See See: Commonwealth v. Borghmann nos. 345-348, COMMON PLEAS COURT OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, CRIMINAL DIVISION, 1971 Pa. Dist. & Cnty. Dec. LEXIS 201; 55 Pa. D. & C.2d 246, May 13, 1971 Decided.) The full transcript can be found at the end of "Leninist Boomers" available at http://laroucheplanet.info/pmwiki/downloads/HH%20FACTNET%20OLD%20AND%20NEW%20MOLE%20FILES.pdf (pp. 192-204). From the trial transcript:
Shortly after being arrested, on April 8, 1969, defendant Fraser conceived the idea of soliciting the help of the Black Panther Party in California. In pursuit of this idea, between April 16th and 20th or 21st, he made several three-way telephone calls from his apartment to "my colleagues in New York [City] and the West Coast headquarters of the Black Panther Party . . ." His colleagues were Steve Komm and Tony Papert. The purpose of the calls was "to establish a meeting with the national leadership of the Black Panther Party, particularly Bobby Seale and Dave Hilliard, to discuss the joint defense of the Black Panther Party and the-then Philadelphia SDS Labor Committee." Defendant was a member of the Philadelphia SDS Labor Committee, as was defendant Borghmann, and Komm and Papert were members of the New York SDS Labor Committee. The only persons with whom defendant discussed his plan to meet with Seale and Hilliard, apart from Komm and Papert, were defendant Borghmann and Miss Friedman.
On April 23rd, defendant Fraser went to New York City, from which he flew to San Francisco, where he was met by members of the Black Panther Party, who took him to Berkeley, where he met Seale and Hilliard, either on April 24th about midnight or in the early hours of April 25th, after which he flew back to New York City, returning to Philadelphia on April 26th.
Sometime during the afternoon of April 25th, the Philadelphia SDS Labor Committee was conducting a rally in front of City Hall to protest the arrest of defendants. Defendant Borghmann and Miss Friedman were setting up sound equipment when Lieutenant Fencl came up to them, according to defendant Borghmann, "took out his black book in which he keeps notes and said that he hoped that Steve Fraser had a good trip out to San Francisco and that he didn't get air sick."
One Larry Elle, evidently also a member of the Labor Committee, replied that "the only thing that made Steve sick was Lt. Fencl," and after an exchange between Elle and the lieutenant, the incident ended.
"On 4/8/69 information received from the Federal Bureau of Investigation from their confidential source, that the members of the Students for Democratic Society are planning the bombing of historical sites in both Philadelphia and Boston, as these are the seats of Democracy and had to do with the founding of the United States and should be blown up according to their information."
At the hearing on the motion to suppress, Lieutenant Fencl testified as follows:
The first information that he had received "was maybe around the 15th or 16th of March." "Maybe a day or two" before March 26th, his informant told him that he had seen explosives in the apartment. Starting on March 26th, and until the search, on April 9th, the police had the apartment under surveillance. On the evening of April 7th, Lieutenant Fencl received a telephone call to the effect that "The FBI was keeping in daily touch with the SDS, and had a tip it had plans to destroy by explosion places in Philadelphia and Boston . . ." On the morning of April 8th, he "received a copy of a bulletin." Evidently this was an FBI teletype and referred to a meeting on March 30th in Boston touching the use of explosives by SDS . . . "for the bombing of Historical buildings. It said that Historic sights [sic] in Boston and Philadelphia should be blown up. They included Harvard University, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, University Hall at Boston University, Old South Meeting, the Old State House, Boston, and the Nathan Hale Statue."
Defendants were not named as having attended this meeting.
The most striking part of this other evidence is the evidence that Lieutenant Fencl knew of defendant Fraser's flight to San Francisco. Since the plans for the flight were made over defendants' telephone, it is evident that the lieutenant may have learned of the flight from an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who had wire-tapped the telephone, or had placed defendants' apartment under electronic surveillance. It is further evident that such an agent probably would have intercepted more than one conversation, since wiretapping and electronic surveillance are by nature continuing techniques, the person conducting them often not knowing when a conversation will occur.
Corroborating these inferences is the evidence that the Federal Bureau of Investigation asked the Philadelphia police to provide a black officer to follow defendant Fraser during the flight, indicating that the Bureau knew of the flight some time before it occurred. Also corroborative is Lieutenant Fencl's testimony, on defendants' motion to suppress, that the Philadelphia police had had defendants under surveillance at least since mid-March 1969, and that in conducting this surveillance they had cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which on April 7th had passed on to the police a tip regarding an SDS meeting in Boston. Also corroborative is the evidence that defendant Fraser had, at least in all probability, come to the attention of the Philadelphia police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as early as February 1969, when he had been active in the sit-in at the University of Pennsylvania.
40 On the Fraser-Borghmann case see Jonathan Valania, "The Phantom Bomb Plot of 1969," PW (Philadelphia Weekly), 22 December 2009 at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1971/feb/25/fraser-borgmann-defense/?pagination=false and http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/news-and-opinion/cover-story/The-Liberty-Bell-Bomb-Plot-76-79949692.html. Valania interviewed both Fraser and Jane Friedman for his article. Jane Friedman was also interviewed by Paul Lyons for his book on the Philadelphia New Left.
41 The transcript says that Tony Papert went with Fraser to California as well to meet with the Panthers. Another black Labor Committee member from New York, an African-American named George Turner, may also have gone to Oakland.
42 Just how Fraser learned about the surveillance was never revealed.
44 For more, see the appendix "The Red and the Black" on the Panthers in both Philadelphia and Baltimore.
45 The Labor Committee had two top lawyers defending them, Bernard Segal and David Rudovsky (whom Friedman later married). They further lucked out in getting Judge Edmund B. Spaeth assigned to the case. Judge Spaeth, recalls Friedman, "was very intelligent and a Quaker, a man of conscience. . . . [The lawyers] told us that he was pretty much the only judge in town we had a chance of convincing." (See the Valania article for Friedman's comments.)