1966 August 16

Disorder Erupts as HUAC Investigates Anti-Vietnam War Movement


Disorder erupted on this day as the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) opened hearings on the anti-Vietnam war movement. The committee planned to investigate allegations that some anti-war activists had aided the Viet Cong in the war. The hearings involved a clash between Congress and the courts. The day before, a federal judge had blocked the hearings, but a three-judge appeals court panel overturned the ban. As soon as the hearings opened, angry shouting erupted among witnesses, their attorneys, and committee members. Police officers dragged eight people from the room, and 17 people were charged with disorderly conduct. On the following day, Arthur Kinoy, attorney for some witnesses, was also forcibly ejected from the hearing room. The hearings were the stormiest event surrounding HUAC investigations since the famous protests at HUAC hearings in San Francisco, on May 12, 1960.

The Vietnam War created a number of civil liberties crises. They include (1) the lack of a Congressional Declaration of War as required by the Constitution (June 3, 1970); (2) threats to freedom of the press in the Pentagon Papers case (June 30, 1971); (3) spying on the anti-war movement by the CIA (August 15, 1967); (4) threats to freedom of expression, for example high school student protests (February 24, 1969); censorship of television programs (February 25, 1968); and directly and indirectly some of the events that led to the Watergate Scandal (May 9, 1969; January 27, 1972).

Learn more about HUAChttp://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/huac

Read about the history of HUAC: Walter Goodman, The Committee: The Extraordinary Career of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (1968)

Learn more: Terry H. Anderson, The Movement and the Sixties: Protest in America from Greensboro to Wounded Knee (1995)

Read the recollections: Ron Chepesuik, Sixties Radicals, Then and Now: Candid Conversations with Those Who Shaped the Era  (1995)

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