Activism of the 1980s Photograph Collection

Credo digital
Overview: During the academic year 1986-1987, UMass Amherst was awash in political turmoil, fueled in part by the US intervention in Central America. The arrival on campus of a CIA recruiting officer in November set off a string of demonstrations that attracted the support of activists Abbie Hoffman and Amy Carter, culminating in the occupation of the Whitmore Administration Building and later, Munson Hall. Among the many arrested, thirteen were brought to trial on charges of disorderly conduct, including Hoffman and Carter, all of whom were eventually acquitted.

The Collection contains 64 mounted photographs of marches, demonstrations, and protests in Amherst and Northampton, Mass., taken by UMass Amherst students Charles F. Carroll, Byrne Guarnotta, and Libby Hubbard. The photographs are a vivid record of campus and community activism, and particularly the mobilization against the CIA and American intervention in Central America, as well as the arrest and trial of Abbie Hoffman and Amy Carter.

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Background

Die in on the steps of the Student Union

Die in on the steps of the Student Union

During the academic year 1986-1987, three students from the University of Massachusetts Amherst conducted a year-long photographic documentation of political demonstrations and protests. Charles F. Carroll, Byrne Guarnotta, and Libby Hubbard captured images of marches ranging from a Take Back the Night march to rallies for gay rights and protests against racism, American support for the apartheid regime in South Africa, and nuclear weapons.

The most volatile point of protest during that year, however, centered on US policy in Central America, and particularly the CIA support of death squads and Contra rebels in Nicaragua. The arrival of a CIA recruiter on campus in November proved to be a flash point, drawing in other activists from throughout the region and, as tensions rose, mobilizing students on both the left and right.

On November 13, the Radical Student Union (RSU) organized a protest at the University Career Center where the CIA had planned to hold a "pre-interview information session." Although the RSU succeeded in forcing the recruiters to cancel the session, they learned the next morning that the interviews had actually been shifted to an undisclosed location elsewhere on campus. In response, a number of protesters marched on the office of Chancellor Joseph Duffey in the Whitmore Administration Building to complain of the University's complicity in dealing with the CIA. Finding the main entrance to Whitmore locked down, they tried several other entrances, eventually gaining admittance to the Affirmative Action office through an unlocked side door. Their efforts to reach the Chancellor were unavailing, and when University police were called in, eleven were placed under arrest for trespass.

The occupation of Whitmore, however, was only the beginning of troubles. Five days later, a group of students presented a set of demands to the administration, asking (among other things) that the University bar CIA recruiters from campus. As tensions mounted, long-time activist Abbie Hoffman phoned members of the RSU, offering to come to campus to hold a workshop and take part in the demonstrations. Amy Carter, daughter of President Jimmy Carter and then a sophomore at Brown University, also came. When the protesters received what they regarded as a tepid and inadequate response to their demands, a crowd of approximately 700 protesters gathered, including Hoffman and Carter, and rallied in front of the Student Union Building before marching on Whitmore. Confronted by a police barricade, approximately 150 members of the crowd broke off and entered adjacent Munson Hall, occupying it for several hours. By the evening, state police in riot gear were called in, and wielding batons and dogs, they began removing the protesters one by one. As the crowd outside chanted "The whole world is watching," 51 were taken under arrest, thirteen of whom -- including Hoffman (who was inside Munson) and Carter (who was outside) -- were singled out and charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct. Throughout, smaller groups right wing counter-protesters squared off against the much larger anti-CIA crowd, complaining that denying access to the recruiters was unpatriotic and an infringement on their rights.

In April 1987, the defendants were tried in the Hampshire County Court House in Northampton. The defense team, led by Leonard Weinglass, raised a "necessity defense" based on provisions in Commonwealth law that exonerate those charged with crimes if they reasonably believed that their actions would prevent the "clear and immediate threat" of greater harm. Judge Richard F. Connon allowed the defense and admitted the testimony of a number of prominent left-wing political figures who provided testimony on the CIA's support for death squads, assassinations, and other illegal activities. The defense succeeded. Although it is unclear whether necessity held greater sway among jurors than the belief that disorderly conduct did not apply, the jury's exoneration of the defendants was widely understood as a rebuke to the CIA and to University policy.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Activism in the 1980s Collection contains 64 mounted photographs depicting marches, demonstrations, and protests in Amherst and Northampton, Mass. Taken by Charles F. Carroll, Byrne Guarnotta, and Libby Hubbard, all UMass Amherst students, the photographs are a vivid record of campus and community activism in the mid-1980s, and especially the mobilization against the CIA and American intervention in Central America and the arrest and trial of Amy Carter and Abbie Hoffman.

Although the protests against the CIA and American policy in Central America predominate, the collection also includes images of events ranging from a Take Back the Night march to rallies for gay rights and protests against racism, American support for the apartheid regime in South Africa, and nuclear weapons. Seven photographs depict right wing counter-demonstrators protesting at the trial of Carter and Hoffman.

Collection inventory
CIA protests at UMass Amherst
1986-1987
Crowd of protesters at University Career Center, with anti-CIA placard
1986 Nov.
1
Interior shot of student occupation of Munson Hall
1986 Nov.
3
Student being carried off, covered with fake blood
1986 Nov.?
6
Student march toward Whitmore Hall. Passing by Herter Hall
1986 Nov.
7
Students arrested and dragged off by police
1986 Nov.
9
Students occupying Munson Hall, Climbing in second story window
1986 Nov.
10
Carroll, Charles F.: 'Students for a Socially Responsible University -- Radical Student Union. Amy Carter, CIA on Trial' [Police in riot gear and dogs staging by UMass buses]
1986 Nov.
12
Altered sign in unidentified building reading 'CIA no' and 'Justice and freedom' with shaving cream graffiti of anarchist A and 'No way'
1986 Nov.
14
Police and onlookers
ca.1986 Nov.?
15
'CIA on campus student protest' [meeting and panel discussion in Campus Center]
1987
17
Hubbard, Libby: 'Students for a Socially Responsible University (Radical Student Union)' [Chalk outlines of people on sidewalk with words Draper and Bombs]
1987
18
'Students protest CIA' by University Art Gallery
1987
19
Carroll, Charles F.: "Students take over forum"
1987
21
Carroll, Charles F.: "Students take over forum"
1987
22
Anti-CIA skit at Student Union Art Gallery
1987
23
Hubbard, Libby: Protesters in front of Student Union Building with anti-CIA banners
1987
27
CIA: Trial of Abbie Hoffman and Amy Carter
1986-1987
Abbie Hoffman lying on floor, talking with students
1986 Nov.
29
Carroll, Charles F.: Amy Carter at the microphone
1986 Nov.
30
Carroll, Charles F.: "Abby in court"
1987 April
32

View of courtroom, Northampton, with Abby Hoffman standing

Carroll, Charles F.: "CIA Trial -- Abby"
1987 April
33

Abby Hoffman and crowd in courtroom, Northampton

Amy Carter and students raising fists on steps of Northampton Courthouse and holding banner reading "On to Washington!" probably after trial

"Jay Allare -- Northampton CIA trial"
1987 April
35
Group on steps of Northampton courthouse
1987 April
36

Amy Carter hugging supporters in court room, Northampton

Guarnotta, Byrne: Amy Carter and Abbie Hoffman at press conference
1987
39
Carroll, Charles F.: Familiar man
1987
40
Carroll, Charles F.: Familiar woman
1987
41
Carroll, Charles F.: Firemen outside Hampshire County Courthouse
1987 April
42
Other protests at UMass Amherst
1986-1987
Carroll, Charles F.: "Black students protest"
ca.1986-1987
43
Carroll, Charles F.: "Gay rights"
ca.1986-1987
44

Banner in window of Machmer Hall(?) reading Lesbian Union

Hubbard, Libby: "Take back the night -- Women's movement"
ca.1986-1987
45

Take back the night march

Protesters occupying Whitmore Hall
ca.1986-1987
48
Sign taped to door: "Students are now occupying Whitmore over the right to control student activities money"
ca.1986-1987
49
Unidentified speaker
ca.1986-1987
51
Unidentified student and official(?) seated at conference table
ca.1986-1987
52
Protester in helmet and cape holding up "complaint form" before students (skit)
ca.1986-1987
54
Unidentified woman in front of blackboard with tally of votes
ca.1986-1987
55
Anti-apartheid and disinvestment protests
1986-1987
Sign altered in administrative offices to read Apartheid Office -- Vice Chancellor for South Africa -- Defeat Racism 4 love & peace
ca.1986-1987
63

Signs read "Embargo South Africa not Nicaragua," "Divest now," and "Ban apartheid"

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Language:

English

Provenance

Acquired Aug. 12, 1999.

Processing Information

Processed by Dexter Haven, 2008.

Digitized content

Most of the collection has been digitized and can be viewed online in our digital repository, Credo.

Related material

For related collections, see:

  • Radical Student Union Records (RG 45/80 R1)
  • University Records: Student Protests and Demonstrations -- CIA Recruitment (RG 45/101)
  • CIA on Trial Project (MS 508)

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Activism of the 1980s Photograph Collection (PH 012). Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Amherst (Mass.)
  • Anti-apartheid movements--Massachusetts.
  • Central America--Foreign relations--United States.
  • CIA on Trial Project (Amherst, Mass.)
  • Demonstrations--Massachusetts.
  • Northampton (Mass.)
  • Student movements.
  • United States. Central Intelligence Agency.
  • United States--Foreign relations--Central America.

Link to similar SCUA collections

Names

  • Carroll, Charles F.
  • Carter, Amy.
  • Guarnotta, Byrne.
  • Hoffman, Abbie.
  • Hubbard, Libby.
  • Radical Student Union.
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Genre terms

  • Photographs.