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On Abbie Hoffman's

On Abbie Hoffman's image On Abbie Hoffman's image
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This is a heavy moment for me. A moment that has always been a possibility for Abbie and me. Because Abbie's work and I play have so often challenged thé establishI ed pówers. we have always feared that one day those powers would succeed in destroying our happiness. It has finally happened. And when we least expected it. I feel that this moment brings to an end the seven happiest years of my life. Although I had no prior knowledge, it is now apparent that Abbie has left us all I because he feit he could not expect justice. I It is a sad moment for all of us when a figure like Abbie is forced to leave the ring. because his opponents persist in attacking him in a manner which belies the veneer of a democratie civilization. Of course, 1 in these days of Watergate and possible impeachment, no one expects the New York City Pólice Department (especially its Red Squad and Narcotics Squad), the F.B.I., the Justice Department, the I.R.S., and organized crime to fight clean. Strong 1 and brilliant as Abbie is, experienced as Abbie is, this latest onslaught by the above mentioned agencies has apparently been too much for him. Although he has been harassed'by the government for many I years. the risks and the penalties he faces I in this cocaine sale frame-up are heavier I than anything he has ever experienced. Abbie is innocent yet he must risk his life to prove it. This latest episode is no token baI ttle fought for headlines. The . government and its pólice agencies want to put Abbie away for life and they have designed a complex A plot to do so. M As early as 1970 Pentagon intelligence records i ted that i Abbie was A ideal for a ■ drug-bust 1 setup. With typical ment efficiency it took them only " four years to accomplish their goal. Of course, by then m ■ Abbie was living rather quietly in the country with america and me, working on his latest book and discovering new parental roles-but that didn't stop them. He was a good target in 1969 and he was still considered a good target last August. He's a target now, but I hope an invisible one. Aslong as I have lived with Abbie we have been under different forms of government surveillance and harassment. Sometimes Abbie's been amazed that he's survived at all. There have been numerous death threats, the most recent of which occurred when he was in pólice custody last August. During the arrest one cop pointed a shotgun at Abbie and said, "Why don't you run so I can shoot you?" Then later when they were leading _ him tó a car a sergeant yelled to the crowd, "Hey, look k at the commies we ;aught." Now these were supposedly narcotics cops who insisted later that the k arrest was not poI litical. I In our years together there have been F.B.I. visits, pólice on our roof, agents follow Wtng us, fake burglaries. acquaintances who ■ were government agents, F I.R.S. audits every year, [and at least eight government admitted wiretaps. This does not include the many arrests of Abbie on phony charges. I shall just mention three. In 1969 the pólice plantea a gun and a brown paper bag containing heroin in Abbie's office on 5th Street. In 1971 theF.B.I. jumped us in the way of our tenement building and biulally carried off Abbie, later charging him with assaulting a Washington D.C. policeman dunng Mayday demonstrations against the war. The only odd thing was that it was Abbie s nose and not the cop's which was broken by a billy club. Another time he was badly beaten by pólice while standing in the lobby of the Criminal Courts building at 100 Centre Street during a trial intermission. He was there for his own trial but there was a Panther 21 hearing that day and the pólice no sooner saw Abbie standing there than they attacked him. That encounter earned him a cracked rib. After that he stopped quoting one of his favonte Lenny Bruce lines, "In the Halls of Justice the only justice is in the halls." All these cases were so absurd they never even reached the trial stage, but they used up a lot of time and money, and permanently weakened Abbie's health. He estimates that he's been arrested 25 to 40 times in his life and has always been vindicated. The early arrests occured in the 1960's civil rights marches in Mississippi; the later ones stemmed out of the ban-thebomb and the anti-war movements. Abbie's political activities and continual struggle to test the limits of free speech have also brought him difficulties in getting his later books published. In an article coming out in the May issue of Harper's, Abbie describes his trials and tribulations in the publishing world. Because of I.R.S. threats of tax investiga tions of publishers, no one would publish Steal This Book and Abbie had to publish it himself-making no money in the process, although his books have sold in the hundreds of thousands. This pattern was repeated with his latest work, Book of the Month Club Selection. Again the I.R.S. made threats and Abbie spent months searching for a publisher. Which brings me to the background of his latest entrapment. Last year Abbie, america and I were living quietly in my ther's house in the try. The birth of nur son, ca, lias put us through niany changes. We dis covered that we must find new sexual and parental roles, new modes of living in order to grow with america and not stitle him with our own discontent. We both became more interested in the problems of people over thirty and in new altérnate life-styles. We concentrated our energies on our child, our friends, our dog, and our wonderful vegetable garden. We needed money, however, and Abbie set out to write a sequel to Stcal This Book entitled Book of the Month Club Selection. He worked on the book the entire year; even during the summer he rarely left the house except on some errand involving the book. I say this only because his other two books, Revohition for the Heil of It and Woodslock Nation were written in a matter of days. After a winter of searching for a publisher, Lancer Books agreed to publish Book of the Month Club Selection in the Spring. He was finishing the book in August wlien he was busted. After he was bailed out of jail it became apparent that Lancer was bankrupt, so Book of the Month Club Selection, as of now, still hasn't any publisher. The book has a big chapter on drugs. Since he needed a lot of information on the distribution, sale, and quality of illicit drugs, Abbie gathered information mailed in to him and also went out into the field. A street person himself, Abbie hung'out around dealers, narks, and underworld figures trying to piece together the drug scène in order to write about it. He got some heavy information about the New York City drug traffic. He also got entrapped. The pólice have said they didn't know it was Abbie until the day or so before the arrest, but we know for a fact from both a relative of one of the pólice officers and other sources that the pólice were watching Abbie continuously. They therefore had an opportunity to see that Abbie was writing this book and had developed contacts in the drug world. They obviously knew that Abbie had some unsavory acquaintanees and was ing a round the drug scène. That made it easy i to entice him into that hotel room. ƒ ouryears together there have been F.B.L visits, pólice on our roof agents following us, fake burglaries, acquantances who weregovemment agents, LUS. audits every year, and at least eight governmentadmitted wiretaps. This does not include the many arrests ofAbbie on phony charges... (which) were so absurd they never even reached the trial stage, but they used up a lot of time and money and permanen tly weakened A bbie 's health. We also know from a relative of one of the cops that they were tapping Abbie's phones for months. Rogers has said that there were no wiretaps and we believe him to be an honest man who would not lie, but that doesn't preclude the cops from lying to him. And if there were any way we could prt .e there were such taps we fcould win the case. But the situation is so complex, involving as it does the New York City Narcotics Squad, the Red Squad, hip informers, the F.B.I., the Mafia, and Watergate-type infiltrators, that it is difficult to verify all that we know or suspect. People say that Abbie must either be guilty or very stupid to walk into such a situation. He is not guilty. He has never dealt drugs. Anyone who knows him knows that he has always had too many other activities going on to have the time for the careful, paranoid state of mind characteristic of the drug dealer. And money has never been a goal in Abbie's life. In fact, the one time he received a lot of it (for selling the screen rights to Revolution for the Heil oflt) he donated it$22.000to the Panther 21 Bail Fund. The person he helped bail out forfeited the bond althougli he was later acquitted, so we lost that money- and never missed it because our happiness has never been dependent on money. We also know that Abbie isn't stupid, although perhaps in this instance he was a bit naive. The government has been harassing us for so many years that Abbie and I have almost gotten used to it. The only way to stay sane in that situation is not to become paranoid. We simply couldn't afford to- under almost constant surveillance one would have to cease to live. So while the threat of disaster has always haunted us, we've refused to really believe in it. Until now. ■ The government seems to be using the drug bust of the 1970's the way they used the communism bust of the 1950's. It is the dirty trick of the decade, the smear which frightens people the way communism did in the 50's. Cocaine is not a narcotic but it is classified as one and considered a hard drug. People would have laughed if the government used marijuana to entrap Abbie so they chose a drug which still frightens people and has con 4 notations of organized crime and big money. V Most of Abbie's actions 1 and books have been about testing the limits of free speech. That is what led him into this latest mess. I believe and he be. Heves that he will ultimately be vindicated. It will be proven that he is no criminal. Our little family has been broken up by the exigencies of this nightmare situation. I do not know what the future holds or when any of us will see Abbie again. Perhaps it will be tomorrow or next week; perhaps it will be years from now. I only hope that one day america, Abbie, and I will be . reunited in freedom. Perhaps it is appropriate at this time to recall the pseudonym Abbie used for his first book, Revolution for the Heil of It. Those of us who love him hope it will always be an appropriate name for Abbie. He called himself "Free." (Editor's note: Abbie Hoffman failed to appear at his two most recent court appearances, so on April 1 6 his bail of $ 1 0, 000 was revoked and a bench warrant issued for his arrest-. Last August 28, Abbie and three friends, Carole Ramer, Diane Peterson, and Michael Drosman were arrested by New York City narcotic agents and accused of selling almost three pounds of cocaine. Minimum sentence, if convicted, is 15 years. The maximum is In . Charges against Michael Drosman have since been dropp.ed. Abbie has appeared in court eight times for this case; but failed to appear the last two times, most recently on March 15. No one has seen him since late February.) Anita-Hoffman is the author of the novel, Trashing. She and Abbie have been married for seven years. This article originally appeared in University Review. Far Ie ft -■ Abbie wearing his infamous flag shirt for which he was arrested severa! times; bottom left - 5 of the Chicago Coih spiracy before their trial began, from left to right Rennie Davis, Dave Dellinger, Jerry Rubin, Lee Weiner and Abbie Hoffman; below -- Abbie at May Day in New Haven, 1 9 70. Photos by David Fen ton.