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Hoffman arrested for shirt ‘mutilating American flag’: 1968 | by Washington Area Spark
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Hoffman arrested for shirt ‘mutilating American flag’: 1968

Yippie activist Abbie Hoffman is arrested for wearing an American flag shirt when he shows up at a House Un American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearing October 1, 1968 investigating the clashes at the 1968 Democratic Convention.


The charge was “mutilating an American flag.” The shirt can be partially seen draped over Hoffman's arm.


His counterpart Jerry Rubin ( see ) showed up wearing an Viet Cong flag cape. Hoffman quipped to the press, “I regret that I have one shirt to give for my country” while Rubin shouted that police were communists for not arresting him also.


Rubin and other Yippies tried to stand in silent protest of the “unfair treatment” they received at the hands of the committee. Rubin was later escorted by police out of the hearing.


Rubin and Hoffman had already been indicated as one of the "Chicago 8," charged with conspiracy to riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention.


While being called before a HUAC hearing once ruined careers in the 1950s, activists in the 1960s were openly contemptuous of the hearings and often looked upon a subpoena to appear before the committee as a badge of honor.


Hoffman began his radical career in high school when he wrote a paper favoring atheism and his teacher in turn ripped up the paper. Hoffman attacked the teacher and was expelled.


Hoffman was active in the civil rights movement of the early 1960s and with early anti-Vietnam War efforts.


He gained attention when went with a group of supporters to the New York Stock Exchange and threw a mixture of real and fake dollar bills down to the traders below. Many booed while others scrambled to try to grab the money. Hoffman claimed that the protest was designed to expose what the traders were already doing: grabbing money.


At the massive march on the Pentagon in October 1967, Hoffman and Alan Ginsberg led a group to try to “levitate” the Pentagon.


Hoffman and his often cohort Jerry Rubin helped hone the tactic of using stunts to garner publicity for his causes.


As the antiwar movement began to subside in the early 1970s as the Vietnam War wound down, Hoffman was charged with distribution of cocaine and went underground.


After resurfacing, he was arrested with 14 others at the University of Amhert in Massachusetts protesting CIA recruiters and continued his left wing activism until his death in 1989.


In 1987 Hoffman summed up his views:


“You are talking to a leftist. I believe in the redistribution of wealth and power in the world. I believe in universal hospital care for everyone. I believe that we should not have a single homeless person in the richest country in the world. And I believe that we should not have a CIA that goes around overwhelming governments and assassinating political leaders, working for tight oligarchies around the world to protect the tight oligarchy here at home.”


For more information and additional images on red scares, see


Photographer is unknown. The image is an Associated Press photograph housed at the D.C. Library Washington Star collection.


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Taken on October 1, 1968