Activism or Terrorism?
Speeding seemed to be more tolerated than ever along New York City’s Grand Central Parkway. Tolerated may be a poor description for the workload of Motorcycle 3’s skeleton force on duty in the summers of the late 1960s. The motorists couldn’t see the patrol cars, but we could. They were with us in every firehouse of Brooklyn, NY’s Brownsville area.
During those riot-torn times, each responding fire truck had a police vehicle assigned to shadow it through the blighted streets run after run, conflagration after conflagration. Gunfire and severely injured firefighters, hit with rocks, bottles, and homemade anti-personnel weapons were not uncommon. As a matter of fact, the entire experience of civil unrest was overlooked by the political factions and the news media during Mayor John V. Lindsay’s Administration.
Confusion was etched in the faces of the frustrated police officers who were condemned for not doing their job and condemned still if they did, and in the puzzled looks on the faces of firefighters who couldn’t understand what was happening both in the street and in the fire-bombed occupancies.
The driving force in the streets was thugs who were called social activists and received a great deal of sympathy from the media and the affluent, uninformed communities. But thugs they were!
As a firefighter and line officer, how easily could the experience be explained away to myself and to my firefighters if a criminal act was labeled and treated as just that. How more palatable and adoptable strategy and tactic changes could have been for aggressive interior fire forces had we been able to identify the rowdy activists as what they indeed were—terrorists. How much easier it would have been to cope with the mental stress that often left men unable to function in their normal roles if we could have defined the attacks and ambushes as the acts of terrorism that they were.
In Philadelphia, PA, firefighters faced these same frustrations for years. Civil disobedience built to anarchy just as it did a little further to the north a decade before. Where were the lessons? Nowhere! They had to learn anew.
In a brave and intuitive research/report, Charles and Shelly King attempt to do just that. They chronicle MOVE’S activities and statements in a way that shows that this lawless and angry group fit “like a glove” into each and every behavior pattern that experts identify as those belonging not to the activist, but to the terrorist.
In their article on page 26, the Kings write with the impact of street language just as it was recorded in the years 1978 to the present.
Here at EIRE ENGINEERING we also take a bold step in reporting it as accurately as possible for you, our readers. However, printing vulgarity after vulgarity to blast at our readers’ eyes and senses is not our goal. We have deleted those statements and words that will be most easily recognizable bv our emergency responders. We leave, untouched, those expletives that will lend impact and absolute meaning to what was actually occurring in Philadelphia.
The analysis, it is hoped, will assist fire forces and administrations across the nation identify terrorism before it smacks us in the face in the streets of anarchy and we are forced to make rapid-fire, catch-up decisions without any basis to comprehend.