Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Abbie Hoffman's Interview with the FBI in 1968 - Part 1

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Date: 9/12/68

ABBOTT HOFFMAN, also known as Abbie Hoffman, 30 St. Marks Place, New York, New York, was interviewed in the hallway of his apartment at 30 St. Marks Place between 11:05 AM and 11:40 AM, on September 6, 1968, by Special Agents (SAS) [...] and [...].

HOFFMAN, who advised that he was raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, and was graduated from Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, identified himself as a member of the YIP (Youth International Party) and stated that he was in Chicago, Illinois, during the Democratic Convention held in August, 1968.

HOFFMAN, to whom the interviewing SAS identified themselves as representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was advised that the interviewing agents desired to ask him certain questions regarding his participation in the Chicago disorders; that he was not obligated to speak to the agents and that he did not have to answer any questions which might possibly incriminate him.

HOFFMAN stated that his life is an open book; that he had no objection to the interview; that he understood his rights, and that he had received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union; that is, the ACLU, only yesterday (September 5, 1968), indicating that the FBI would probably question him concerning his presence in Chicago during the Democratic Convention.

HOFFMAN stated that the Chicago disorders were the result of a set policy on the part of Chicago authorities: that as a representative of the YIP, he visited Chicago on March 25, 1968, and filed an application for a permit, with others, with the Chicago Parks Commission to allow demonstrators to utilize Lincoln Park, later changed to Grant Park, for their "thing" during the convention period: that he then met with Deputy Mayor STAHL, a Mr. BARRY of the Park Commission, certain Chicago police officials and others, and that the application was not then acted upon.

HOFFMAN stated that thereafter this application matter was left in the hands of the Chicago people who also wanted to use the park.

HOFFMAN stated that about five days before the Convention, he was advised that his Chicago group never received a permit to use Grant Park: that thereafter the application for a permit had been withdrawn. HOFFMAN stated that he then decided to go to Chicago to see what he could do to get a park permit; that he then flew to Chicago on a student rate fare and met immediately with Deputy Mayor Stahl and others in a last ditch stand to try to get Grant Park for the demonstrators.

HOFFMAN stated that his experience indicated that city officials usually hold off until the last day, then issue a permit, but that contrary to his advice to Chicago officials, this did not happen. HOFFMAN stated that he and others were told they could, within local law, use Grant Park, like any other city park, each day until 11:00 PM; that they could not sleep in the parks and would have to vacate them by 11:00 PM.

HOFFMAN stated that on Sunday, August 25, 1968, he and others then in Grant Park were confronted by Chicago Police between 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM; that he phoned the commander of the Chicago Police Department, 18th Precinct, between those hours to get a rule on the use of the park and that he was told that his group could legally stay there until 11:00 PM, and that the police unit forcing them about would be withdrawn. HOFFMAN stated that the police did not withdraw, but continued to pressure people out of the park.

HOFFMAN stated that he is identified with YIP, that YIP has no membership, no dues, no membership list, and no officers, but that he did act as a representative of YIP, while meeting with others in Chicago, Illinois. HOFFMAN stated that neither he nor any YIPs with whom he is acquainted in New York City or elsewhere, made any plans to cause any disorders in Chicago, Illinois, nor did they discuss any such ideas, nor did they bring any weapons or similar items to Chicago to protect themselves from attack or to use in attack.

HOFFMAN stated that while in Chicago, he made no plans to cause any disorders, that he gave no orders for anyone to become involved in any disorders, and that he has no knowledge of any such plans or activity on the part of any individual or any group in Chicago, New York City, or elsewhere.

HOFFMAN stated that the YIP issued a calendar of events for the Chicago Convention period: that he helped to prepare this program, and that it is a public record of all his own and all YIP plans, and that no disorders were scheduled or even suggested. HOFFMAN stated that he urged persons associated with the Convention confrontation to remain non-violent and that his position and policy in this regard has been quoted in the public press several times and was included in an article relating to him which appeared in the "New York Post", a New York City daily newspaper, on September 1 or 2, 1968.

HOFFMAN stated that he never advocated any disorder, fights with the police, or the use of weaponry of any sort, in connection with the Chicago disorders, and that he has no knowledge of such plans or activities on the part of anyone else.

HOFFMAN stated that he heard general gossip of absurd statements made by persons unknown to him, about putting LSD in the Chicago drinking water, and that since such things were so foolish and impractical he never took them seriously, but took them to be just talk and "letting off steam."

HOFFMAN stated that he could only speak for himself concerning motivation to visit Chicago during the period the Democratic Convention was being held. HOFFMAN stated that he believes in a free, unregimentated life: that he would hope to influence everyone to join him: that the philosophy of the Democratic Party advocates the continuance of the present system which is a monetary trap which causes people to work unnecessarily for an entire lifetime and only to perpetuate the system. HOFFMAN stated that in his opinion current technical advancements and scientific achievements, all of a revolutionary nature, can feed and clothe the entire world; that such technical and scientific achievements and their future refinements could, if allowed by the establishment to do so, release everyone from an organized life of work and entrapment, and that he wanted to utilize the Democratic Convention in Chicago to do his "thing," which was to confront the Democrats and to publicize his own philosophy of life.

HOFFMAN stated that he is not against the Democratic Party itself; that it is one group of many which advocated the established way of life. Further, that he has been called many things including a "Communist": that he is not a Communist and could never accept Communism since it is another absurd, regimented, disciplined group with its own aims and establishment type objectives.

HOFFMAN stated that he is against all political philosophies, that all presidential candidates hope to retain the establishment although they don't say so. Further, that he has expressed himself as favorable to George Wallace, only because Wallace is the least hypocritical candidate in that he is truthful and outright; that even though you can't agree with him on many points you know where he stands. HOFFMAN stated that he has made statements to this effect in public gatherings, in television interviews and interviews with the press, and that he has worn Wallace buttons at such gatherings and at public demonstrations.

HOFFMAN stated that "I presume that I will eventually be arrested for conspiracy because of my presence in Chicago." HOFFMAN stated that he did not know what the conspiracy charge, if any, would be. HOFFMAN stated that it is his understanding that his name was among those who are bringing a civil suit against the City of Chicago and Mayor Daley for 600 million dollars; that such suit started by a daughter of former Senator Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts and with a New York City law firm, if successful would allow the wronged demonstrators to give each Chicago police officer, who resigns from that police force in protest against the policies of the Chicago police, a sum of $10,000.00 each.

HOFFMAN stated that during his recent stay in Chicago he was under surveillance by the Chicago police: that he became friendly with those following him for his so-called protection, and that he enjoyed coffee and transportation from them.

HOFFMAN stated that he stayed at the Chicago home of a friend, whom he declined to identify; that he was out of the parks each night, and that, to his recollection, he was arrested and held for thirteen hours the day before that major trouble in Grant Park and near the Hilton Hotel and that he did not participate in these disorders.

HOFFMAN disclaimed any responsibility for any disorders at Chicago, Illinois.

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