June 5, 2015
‘Days of Rage’ author on drugs and the 60s/70s underground
In terms of drug-related corruption, it was really this group called The Family. This is the group that was run by Tupac Shakur’s stepfather, Mutulu Shakur, and a guy that I spoke with at length, Sekou Odinga. It was an odd group, in that they were ostensibly robbing these banks to raise revolutionary funds—or at least that’s what half the group thought they were doing. The other half, which was basically Mutulu’s group, seemed to be far more interested in using the funds for cocaine. And that’s what they did. (…)
I’m trying to think if there was anything else, in the entire book, of all these nine or 10 groups, that was at all playful. The only thing that comes to mind was this group called the New World Liberation Front, which was just a guy and his girlfriend. They probably set the most amount of protest bombs of anyone in the 1970s in California, but they got very little publicity for it.
One of their early actions in 1975 was against the San Francisco police, who went on a ticket-writing blitz in reaction to not getting the contract they wanted. And the New World Liberation Front replied by pouring liquid steel into dozens of San Francisco parking meters in protest. (…)
These bombings were so widespread, and so inconsequential, less than 1% of them caused death or injury, they really seemed to be just accepted as part of the fabric of life in America in the ’70s. There’s that great quote from the New York Post, who interviewed a bystander of a bombing in 1977, and she said “Oh, another bombing, who was it this time?” It just wasn’t seen as that big of a deal in the ’70s. That’s very hard for us to grasp after 9/11. One pipe bomb these days gets widespread, front-page attention.