I have never in my life cried so much at a TV news story as I did on the afternoon of September 1, 1987 while watching the footage of a U.S. Death Train running over the legs of peace activist, Earth First!er, and veteran of the U.S. war in Vietnam, S. Brian Willson.
I stomped around the den and kept throwing my arms downward in ultimate frustration. As I kept turning my head sideways to look back at the TV, I was crying in outrage and lament that the vast majority of my fellow Americans had blown off themselves getting involved in socially messy community organizing or even doing anything about everything that is critically important for all of us for far too long.
They had brushed aside into their shadows all the death and mayhem that undergirds our (and their own) Father Knows Best suburban lifeways until it had built up critically to the point that all that moral cowardice and psychic crap had exploded with blood, flesh, and bone fragments from the crushing legs of Brian Willson smashed under the steel wheels of that military industrial complex genocide machine in Richmond that maddening sunny day.
I have since had the honor and privilege of crossing paths and hanging out with Brian on a half-dozen occasions as we have shared friends and organize within many of the same activist communities on the west coast.
In Veterans Day weekend commemoration of the suffering brought by the Republican and Democratic parties’ military-industrial complex traitors of our day unto all of our veterans (and the people of the societies they’ve crushed) I present here various recordings of three of those occasions, in all of which Brian talks warrior-to-warrior about what we must do today for peace and ecological harmony.
In 1990, while we were organizing Redwood Summer, a campaign on nonviolent direct actions to save the last unprotected old growth native forests in the world, Headwaters Forest, someone exploded a car bomb in my team’s car, almost killing my two organizing partners, Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney. So Brian thought we had something in common with him and he showed up at a Redwood Summer rally in Fort Bragg, CA to offer solace and solidarity. (Sorry for those of you who can’t view Facebook videos!)
I videotaped Brian’s southern Humboldt County book tour appearance for his autobiography Blood on the Tracks.
Last year I was invited to co-host a two-hour interview with Brian by my pal KMUD DJ Honky Tonk Bill Thompson for his show Honky Tonk State of Mind.