Probably the best known
anti-war dissident was Abbie Hoffman. Even from a very young age, Abbie proved his
anti-authoritarian personality; he was expelled from his high school for fighting with his
English teacher. Soon however, Abbie turned his attention from fighting teachers to
fighting injustice. He was a very early worker in the Civil Rights movement, and was
even arrested in Mississippi in 1964. This experience in the Civil Rights movement
gave Abbie a sense of purpose, and he began to dedicate his life to various causes.
By 1966 he founded the Liberty House in New York City. This store sold products from
cooperatives in Mississippi run by people in poverty.
Hoffman being arrested for wearing a
shirt resembling the American flag.
As the war in Vietnam heated up, Abbie turned his attention towards
ending the fighting. His flare for theatrics and attention-getting stunts put his
name in the national news. In October of 1967 Abbie organized the "exorcism of
the Pentagon" in which he and demonstrators from the Peace march in Washington D.C.
surrounded the Pentagon and tried to levitate by mental force. The attention pranks
like these gained in the national media convince Hoffman that the peace message would only
get out by getting as much publicity as possible. That meant more outlandish
protests designed to shock and amuse. On January 1, 1968, Hoffman and Jerry Rubin
started the Youth International Party, or Yippies. This was not an organized
politcal force but rather a common term used to describe those who participated in Hoffman
and Rubin's pranks (such as throwing dollar bills onto the floor of the New York Stock
Exchange). During the "Festival of Life" demonstration during the 1968
Chicago Democratic National Convention, police took their revenge on the protesters that
had mocked them so many times. Abbie Hoffman was one of the "Chicago
Seven" who were arrested in connection with this "police riot".
Hoffman and his compatriots simply used the trial as a platform for Leftists politics and