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This week at a glance.

July 27

•Riot in Chicago
•Coup in Guatemala
•Weep and Disarm for Children

July 28
•Former slaves become citizens
•New Yorkers march against lynching
•More troops to Vietnam
•San Francisco bans handguns

July 29

•Grape boycott supports workers
•Death penalty declared unconstitutional

July 30
•Columbus sails; Jews expelled
•Action prevents greater crime

July 31
•African-American women organize
•Namibians resist occupation
•Start at arms reduction
August 1
•Peace urged in face of war
•Non-violent non-cooperation
•Warsaw rises up
•Action at Seabrook

August 2
•Einstein: no weapons work
•Gulf of Tonkin incident

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July 27, 1919

A riot began in Chicago when police refused to arrest a white man who was responsible for the death of a young black man, Eugene Williams. The 29th Street Beach on Lake Michigan was used by both black and white Chicagoans. But the man had been throwing stones at the black boys swimming there before hitting Williams.

The Coroner’s report on the riot described the events as follows: “Five days of terrible hate and passion let loose, cost the people of Chicago 38 lives (15 white and 23 colored), wounded and maimed several hundred, destroyed property of untold value, filled thousands with fear, blemished the city and left in its wake fear and apprehension for the future . . . .”
The city’s booming economy, especially jobs in the stockyards, had drawn many blacks during the Great Migration from the South, more than doubling their population in just three years. Only one policeman died in the chaos, Patrolman John Simpson, 31, an African American working out of the Wabash Avenue Station.

Gangs and the 1919 Chicago Race Riot.

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July 27, 1954
The democratically elected Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, after receiving 65% of the vote, was overthrown by CIA-paid and -trained mercenaries. There followed a series of military dictatorships that waged a genocidal war against the indigenous Mayan Indians and against political opponents into the '90s. Nearly 200,000 citizens died over the nearly four decades of civil war.
“They have used the pretext of anti-communism. The truth is very different. The truth is to be found in the financial interests of the fruit company [United Fruit, which controlled more land than any other individual or group in the country. It also owned the railway, the electric utilities, telegraph, and the country's only port at Puerto Barrios on the Atlantic coast.] and the other U.S. monopolies which have invested great amounts of money in Latin America and fear that the example of Guatemala would be followed by other Latin countries . . . I took over the presidency with great faith in the democratic system, in liberty and the possibility of achieving economic independence for Guatemala.” Jacobo Arbenz
More about Arbenz The real coup story through official U.S. documents

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July 27, 1996

Known as the “Weep for Children Plowshares,” four women were arrested for pouring their own blood on weaponry at the Naval Submarine Base at Groton, Connecticut, on the morning of the launch of the last-built Ohio-class submarine, the U.S.S. Louisiana. The 18 such submarines carry about half of the U.S. nuclear deterrent – 24 Trident I & II missiles with a range of 7400 km (4600 miles), each with several warheads known as MIRVs (multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles).

Trident sub being loaded Details of the action  

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July 28, 1868

Passed in the wake of the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing due process, equal protection of the law, and full citizenship to all males over 21, including former slaves, went into effect.
More on the amendment and the context of post-Civil War Reconstruction
Booklet on the 14th Amendment from the Damon Keith Collection of
African-American Legal History at Wayne State University Law School

Inspired by the U.S.
Declaration of Independence

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July 28, 1917

Anti-Lynching Parade in New York City, 1917 W.E.B. DuBois and others organized a silent parade down Fifth Avenue in New York City against the lynching of negroes and segregationist Jim Crow laws. There had been nearly 3,000 documented cases of hangings and other mob violence against black Americans since the Reconstruction period following the Civil War.

Read about W.E.B. DuBois

Strange Fruit, the song about lynching, and the film

W.E.B. DuBois
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July 28, 1965

President Lyndon Johnson ordered 50,000 troops to Vietnam to join the 75,000 already there. By the end of the year 180,000 U.S. troops will have been sent to Vietnam; in 1966 the figure doubled. In addition to countless Vietnamese deaths, close to 1900 Americans were killed in 1965; the following year the number more than tripled.

David Douglas Duncan, photographer.
Lyndon Johnson told the nation
Have no fear of escalation

I am trying everyone to please
Though it isn’t really

We’re sending fifty thousand more

To help save Vietnam
from Vietnamese

President Johnson explained: “We intend to convince the communists that we cannot be defeated by force of arms or by superior power.”

"Pfc. John L. Lewis decorates his helmet with good luck tokens.
[Khe Sanh, February 1968.]" Life [Asia edition]. 18 Mar. 1968. cover.
— part of Tom Paxton’s anti-Vietnam-war song, “Lyndon Johnson Told the Nation”
Full lyrics of the song


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July 28, 1982

San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban the sale and possession of handguns. The law was struck down by state courts, which ruled the local law to be in violation of the California constitution which gives the state the sole power to regulate firearms.


July 29, 1970

After a five-year strike, the United Farm Workers (UFW) signed a contract with the table grape growers in California, ending the first grape boycott.
Signing the contract

Exploring the United Farm Workers' History

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July 29, 1972

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death penalty to be cruel and unusual punishment by a 5-4 vote. The Court called the wide discretion in application of capital punishment, including the appearance of racial bias against black defendants, “arbitrary and capricious” and thus in violation of due process guarantees in the 14th Amendment
[see July 28, 1868].
Influence of race on imposition of the death penalty
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July 30, 1492

The same month Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain for his “expedition of discovery to the Indies” [actually the Western Hemisphere], was the deadline for all “Jews and Jewsses of our kingdoms to depart and never to return . . .” lest they be executed. Under the influence of Fr. Tomas de Torquemada, the leader of the Spanish Inquisition, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella had ordered the expulsion of the entire Jewish community of 200,000 from Spain within four months. Spain’s Muslims, or Moors, were forced out as well within ten years.
The edict of expulsion from Spain signed by
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella
All were forced to sell off their houses, businesses and possessions, were pressured to convert to Christianity, and to find a new country to live in. Those who left were known as Sephardim (Hebrew for Spain), settling in North Africa, Italy, and elsewhere in Europe and the Arab world.
Most went to Portugal, were allowed to stay just six months, and then were enslaved under orders of King John. Those who made it to Turkey were welcomed by Sultan Bajazet who asked,
“How can you call Ferdinand of Aragon a wise king, the same Ferdinand who impoverished his own land and enriched ours?”

July 30, 1996

Four Ploughshares activists in Liverpool, England, were acquitted of all charges (illegal entry and criminal damage) on the basis of their having prevented a greater crime, after having extensively damaged an F-16 Hawk fighter jet to be sold to the Indonesian government for use in its genocidal occupation of East Timor.
Seeds of Hope-East Timor Ploughshares:
the action and the aftermath

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July 31, 1896

The National Association of Colored Women (NACW) was established in Washington, D.C. Its two leading members were Josephine Ruffin and Mary Church Terrell. Founders also included some of the most renowned African-American women educators, community leaders, and civil-rights activists in America, including Harriet Tubman, Frances E.W. Harper, Margaret Murray Washington, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett.
Mary Church Terrell
The original intention of the organization was “to furnish evidence of the moral, mental and material progress made by people of colour through the efforts of our women.” However, over the next ten years the NACW became involved in campaigns favoring women's suffrage and opposing lynching and Jim Crow laws. By the time the United States entered the First World War, membership had reached 300,000.

The NACW and its founders

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July 31, 1986

25,000 people rallied in Namibia for freedom from South African colonial rule. In June, 1971 the International Court of Justice had ruled the South African presence in Namibia to be illegal. Eventually, open elections for a 72-member Constituent Assembly were held under U.N. supervision in November, 1989. Three months later Namibia gained its independence, and maintains it today.
More on Namibia’s independence Namibian flag

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July 31, 1991

The United States and the Soviet Union, represented by President George H.W. Bush and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as START I. It was the first agreement to actually reduce (by 25-35%) and verify both countries’ stockpiles of nuclear weapons at equal aggregate levels in strategic offensive arms.
The Soviet Union dissolved several months later, but Russia and the U.S. met their goals by December, 2001. Three other former republics of the U.S.S.R., Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine, have eliminated these weapons from their territory altogether.
Comprehensive info from the Federation of American Scientists:


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August 1, 1914


As World War I began, Harry Hodgkin, a British Quaker, and Friedrich Siegmund-Schulte, a German Lutheran pastor, attending a conference in Germany, pledged to continue sowing the “seeds of peace and love, no matter what the future might bring,” germinating the idea for the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR).

FOR's Mission: FOR seeks to replace violence, war, racism, and economic injustice with nonviolence, peace, and justice. We are an interfaith organization committed to active nonviolence as a transforming way of life and as a means of radical change. We educate, train, build coalitions, and engage in nonviolent and compassionate actions locally, nationally, and globally.

History of the Fellowship of Reconciliation

August 1, 1920

Mohandas Gandhi began the movement of "non-violent non-cooperation" with the British Raj (ruling colonial authority) in India. The strategy was to bring the British administrative machine to a halt by the total withdrawal of Indian popular support, both Hindu and Muslim. British-made goods were boycotted, as were schools, courts of law, and elective offices.

More on the Non-Cooperation Movement

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August 1, 1944

The Polish underground army began its battle to liberate Warsaw, the first European city to have fallen to the Germans in World War II.

The heroic effort to rout the Germans

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August 1, 1976

200 people, organized by the Clamshell Alliance, occupied the site of a new nuclear power plant in Seabrook, New Hampshire. They were attempting to halt construction the same day the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission had issued a construction license. Eighteen were arrested. Eventually, only one of two planned reactors was built.

Clamshell history

No Nuclear
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August 2, 1931

Albert Einstein urged all scientists to
refuse military work.

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
- Albert Einstein
Book review of Einstein on Politics

Other Einstein thoughts on the military:

Albert Einstein
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August 2, 1964
The U.S.S. Maddox, a destroyer conducting intelligence operations along North Vietnam’s coast, reported it had been attacked by some of the North’s torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. The day before, the North had been attacked by the South Vietnamese Navy and the Laotian Air Force under U.S. direction.
30-year perspective on reporting of the
Tonkin Gulf Incident
Flawed Intelligence and the Decision for War in Vietnam (from official documents)

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