6 December 2016 | mlwehle
Excellent documentary on draft board raids
Hit and Stay surveys the Vietnam-era movement to raid draft boards and damage or destroy Selective Service records. The movie focuses on the best known of these raids, Catonsville, while successfully tracing the movement from the first raid, by the Baltimore 4, through Catonsville, Camden, the Media FBI break-in, to the Harrisburg trial. The film makers make use of contemporary interviews with raid participants along with archival footage to tell the story of how the movement progressed from the unique actions of a handful of Catholic clergy and laity, who committed civil disobedience in the mode of Gandhi or the civil rights movement, symbolically breaking a law in order to draw attention to the greater crimes being committed by the state and then remaining at the scene, to become a much more widespread movement of citizens who effected very real damage to the ability of the United States government to draft young Americans to fight an illegal, unjust war. The tactic of Hit and Stay became over the experience of Johnson's 1967 Vietnam war morphing into Nixon's 1970-71 invasions of Cambodia and Laos and Ramsey Clark's yielding the Justice Department to John Mitchell the tactic of hitting and getting out, as the anti-war movement came to terms with the bankruptcy of the American political and justice system.
In cataloging the various raids Hit and Stay touches on Camden, documented in the excellent Camden 28, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0808190/. The film's interviews show how for years many contemporaries were convinced John Grady orchestrated the Media break-in, when in fact that action was planned and carried out by Philadelphia-area activists, as 1971 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3478510/ expertly shows.
Hit and Stay very effectively communicates the breadth of involvement in draft board raids, showing the variety of individuals involved as well as the variety of actions undertaken, gives visibility to the New York women's draft board raids and the Dow Chemical actions, and gives attention to how the Harrisburg trial contributed to a schism in the movement. It shows how the Catholic Left's experience with US support for dictators in Central America underpinned Catonsville participants' resistance to the war in Vietnam, and illustrates continuity with present day resistance to militarism by showing draft board raiders' work against the war in Iraq. The film is an important contribution to the canon documenting resistance to US empire.