Release date:July 27, 2007
Studio:First Run Features
What can a person do to end an immoral war? In 1971, 28 individuals intentionally risked prison while protesting the war in Vietnam. With archival materials, current interviews with former FBI agents involved in the case and scholars such as Howard Zinn, "The Camden 28" explores a watershed moment in the history of anti-war activism in the United States. This is a story about civil disobedience that has powerful relevance in our current political climate. "The Camden 28" will have its theatrical premiere at the Cinema Village in New York on Friday July 27, 2007. In August, 1971, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and Attorney General John Mitchell announced the arrest and indictment of 28 antiwar activists conspiring to remove and destroy files from the draft board, FBI office, and the Army Intelligence office in Camden, New Jersey. If convicted, some of the protesters faced up to 47 years in federal prison. The men and women arrested that summer of ’71 in Camden called themselves "America’s conscience." The government called them "The Camden 28." Their story is one of great drama, friendship and betrayal played out against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent periods in recent American history. Included in the arrests were four Catholic priests and one Lutheran minister. All but one of the remaining 23 were Catholic laypeople. All were part of a nonviolent antiwar movement the government and the media referred to as the "Catholic Left." The activists claimed that their civil disobedience was meant to call attention to their belief that the killing in this war was morally indefensible. They targeted the draft for the simple fact that it was the clearest symbol of that immorality. The Judge informed the jury it would not be proper to decide the verdict on the issue of the war, and that "protest is not an acceptable legal defense, as sincerely motivated as I think they were." After three and a half months of trial and three days of deliberations, a jury of seven women and five men returned a verdict of not guilty on all charges against the antiwar activists. The acquittals represented the first complete legal victory for the antiwar movement in five years of such draft board actions.