Racial Tensions in the Military

George Daniels and William Harvey

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Committee for G.I. Rights. Kangaroo Court-Martial: George Daniels and William Harvey, Two Black Marines Who Got 6 and 10 Years for Opposing the Vietnam War. [By Shirley Jolls and Walter Aponte]. New York: Committee for G.I. Rights, March 10, 1969.

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Kangaroo Court-Martial

George Daniels and William Harvey

Two Black Marines Who Got 6 and 10 Years for Opposing the Vietnam War

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Committee for GI Rights

The Committee for GI Rights was formed in July, 1967, to support anti-war soldiers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. That small group of resisters within the Armed Forces became the nucleus of the American Servicemen's Union. Their story is told in a previous Committee publication, "Soldiers Against the War."

Since those beginnings of organized activity the Committee for GI Rights has continued its work toward mobilizing broad civilian support for GI resistance to the war and the tyranny of the Brass.

This pamphlet on the infamous frame-up of George Daniels and William Harvey was prepared by Shirley Jolls, a coordinator of the Committee, and Youth Against War & Fascism activist Walter Aponte.

We urge the strongest efforts on behalf of the defendants in this kangaroo court-martial. The case of Harvey and Daniels is a truly telling example of the Pentagon's despotism.

Box 448, Old Chelsea Station
New York, N.Y. 10011

Maryann Weissman
Edward Oquendo (now serving five years in prison for refusing the draft)
Shirley Jolls

New York, N.Y.          March 10, 1969

Labor Donated


Source: Committee for G.I. Rights. Kangaroo Court-Martial: George Daniels and William Harvey, Two Black Marines Who Got 6 and 10 Years for Opposing the Vietnam War. [By Shirley Jolls and Walter Aponte]. New York: Committee for G.I. Rights, March 10, 1969.
William Harvey

Lance Corporal, U.S.M.C.
Age 21
From Long Island City, N.Y.
Enlisted June 1966
Previous convictions: none
Convicted 11/27/67 of "disloyal words"
Confined to Portsmouth, N.H. Disciplinary Barracks
For 6 years at hard labor.

(Photo shows trophy Harvey won as USMC welterweight boxing champion.)


Source: Committee for G.I. Rights. Kangaroo Court-Martial: George Daniels and William Harvey, Two Black Marines Who Got 6 and 10 Years for Opposing the Vietnam War. [By Shirley Jolls and Walter Aponte]. New York: Committee for G.I. Rights, March 10, 1969.
George Daniels

Private First Class, U.S.M.C.
Age 22
From St. Albans, N.Y.
Enlisted August 1966
Previous convictions: none
Convicted 12/7/67 of "causing insubordination and disloyalty"
Confined to Portsmouth, N.H. Disciplinary Barracks
For 10 years at hard labor.



The case of GEORGE DANIELS and WILLIAM HARVEY: two black Marines who got 6 and 10 years for opposing the Vietnam war.

George Daniels and William Harvey are prisoners of the military dictatorship. Their "crime" is opposition to the war against Vietnam, and the war against their own people, the men, women and children of black America.

Corporal Harvey was railroaded through a brass-studded court-martial on November 27, 1967 and hit with the incredible sentence of six years imprisonment for allegedly making "disloyal statements."

A second panel of racist Marine Corps officers on December 7, 1967 slammed a ten year sentence on co-defendant Private Daniels for allegedly "advising, urging and attempting to cause insubordination, disloyalty and refusal of duty."

Neither Harvey nor Daniels was charged with committing any act – they were tried and imprisoned for their words alone!

The two black Marines are presently serving the total of sixteen years at hard labor in the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Brig.

Demonstrations called by the American Servicemen's Union and the Committee for GI Rights in New York, Seattle and Cleveland have broken the silence imposed for many months on this infamous frame-up. Their cases were recently heard by Military Review Boards, on appeal by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The case of Harvey and Daniels is among the most significant in the long list of political victims of the U.S. Military. From the Fort Hood Three, who refused to go to Vietnam, Stolte and Amick who issued a call against the war, and the Fort Hood 43 who refused "riot control" duty – to the current courts-martial of the Presidio prisoners in California, no case more clearly shows the racist and totalitarian nature of the U.S. military establishment.

The six and ten year sentences meted out to Harvey and Daniels for "disloyal words" are nearly unbelievable – until the circumstances are known. The following facts of the case are taken from the courts-martial records. They reveal the Brass' frame-up of the two men to be one more campaign in the war against Black America, and one more vicious attempt to make an example of anti-war soldiers – an example calculated to be so frightening that the Pentagon could begin to get the lid back on the simmering resistance in the Armed Forces.

Black Marines Face Combat Duty in Vietnam – or in Detroit

The time was July, 1967, the place Camp Pendleton, California – Second Infantry Training Regiment of the U.S. Marine Corps preparing thousands of young "troopers" for combat duty in Vietnam.

In the news: Banner headlines on Detroit; casualty lists from Saigon.

These were the seeds of the Brass' rabid attack on Harvey and Daniels.

First there was a bull-session after noon chow among a group of black and white Marines. Then the talk took a turn that put the Brass uptight. Discussion turned to the war in Vietnam and to the other war, the war against Black America.

The black Marines, particularly, were very much involved in the controversy. Within the past several weeks cops and National Guardsmen had been sent to put down heroic rebellions of black people in such far-flung cities as Cincinnati, Tampa, Buffalo, and – the biggest uprising up to that time – Detroit.

Any hour of the day these Marines could be ordered by the racist officers to shoot down black resistance fighters, just as they were soon to receive orders to level arms against another oppressed people, the Vietnamese.

Most of the Marines didn't like it, and they were intent on letting their objections be heard. Some apparently wanted out of the Marine Corps. Others were reported to have stated that under no condition would they bear arms against the black or Vietnamese people.

Request for "Mast" Termed Mutiny

During that day – July 27, 1967 – a number of Afro-American Marines began to talk about requesting "Mast," a formal meeting with the commanding officer, to discuss the Vietnam war and the "riots."

Theoretically, Mast is a procedure through which servicemen may register grievances, opinions, etc. with their superiors without fear or reprisal. This has been used by the Military to let off steam from the rank and file. Usually the complaints are heard and that's the end of it. All power lies with the Brass, and things go on the way they were before.

But the act of black GIs gathering to let the officers know their feelings about the wars against Vietnam and Black America was intolerable to the Brass. It was a threat to their supremacy, a challenge to the mindless discipline demanded by the "elite." So the Brass cracked down.

There was more on the officers' minds that morning than that suspicious bull-session, too – a fact which slipped out in testimony at Daniels' court-martial.

Major John Hilgers reported a separate incident at a class, during which two black Marines were ordered to perform double-time as punishment for some minor infraction of discipline. Instead of running "on the double," the men walked slowly off, and were joined by several other black Marines in a show of solidarity.

Another officer testified that the Second Infantry Training Regiment was a sort of reservoir of men who had been dropped from more desirable assignments, and were then being retrained for shipment to Vietnam.

At morning formation on July 28, several black Marines, about 18 in number, were ordered to fall out and proceed to the Company Office. Their names were called from a list ferreted out by officers who had noticed the bull-session in the field the day before. The men were questioned one by one in what was supposedly a "screening" for the Mast, then threatened with mutiny charges.

In addition, many other men in the Company were interrogated by Naval Intelligence in a month-long campaign of intimidation. Some of them knew nothing about the bull-session until warned by ONI to "watch the people they went around with and just be careful of Daniels." To make doubly sure that the situation was back under control, the Brass singled out two black men, George Daniels and William Harvey, for the full force of military injustice.

Kangaroo Court-Martial

Captain Henry J. Trautwin, the officer who would have conducted the Mast, preferred charges against the two men. The Base Legal Office recommended General Courts-martial, and the trials were approved by Company Commander, Lt. Col. Neil Dimond.

Daniels and Harvey were subsequently arrested on August 17, and confined until the courts-martial four months later handed down the shattering sentences of six and ten years confinement at hard labor.

Originally both men were charged with promoting disloyalty. Harvey was charged with six specifications; that is, the Brass listed six Marines whom Harvey allegedly urged to refuse duty. Daniels' charges included sixteen such specifications. The two defendants were also accused of conspiring together to organize and conduct a "meeting" on July 27, 1967, at which Marines were advised to refuse duty in Vietnam.

Even the hand-picked court-martial panel couldn't swallow the conspiracy charge, which was dropped at the very beginning of Harvey's trial. Nor had the four-month investigation dug up "proof" that Harvey had "promoted disloyalty."

Witness after witness described the gathering on July 27 as an informal one, a "bull-session." They indicated that the men had been listening to music and engaging in what could be described as a "barracks discussion."

Hellbent on getting some conviction, the court-martial found William Harvey guilty of "lesser charges" of disloyal statements, under the infamous Article 134 of the U.C.M.J. (Universal Code of Military Justice). This so-called Devil's Article is a catch-all which sweepingly prohibits all "disloyal statements," that is, words which are "to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the Armed Forces," or of a "nature to bring discredit upon the Armed Forces."

For allegedly having stated "the black man should not go to Vietnam and fight the white man's war," Harvey was sentenced to reduction to the lowest rank, forfeiture of all pay, dishonorable discharge and the maximum of six years in military prison.

The second panel dropped the conspiracy charge against Daniels also – reluctantly deciding that it takes two to conspire. But this time the kangaroo court-martial stuck to the more serious charge and, building on Harvey's conviction, railroaded George Daniels under Section 2387, a Smith Act provision of the U.S. Criminal Code. This includes: "Making statements with intent to impair or interfere with the discipline, morale or fulfillment of duty by a member of the Armed Forces."

For allegedly maintaining that "the black man should not fight in Vietnam because he would have to come back and fight the white man in the United States," Daniels received the maximum sentence of reduction to the lowest rank, forfeiture of all pay, dishonorable discharge and ten years in military prison.

Daniels was the prime victim because the Brass had portrayed him as a ringleader, and claimed that he had been advocating, "impairment of discipline" over a period of months, from his Basic Training at Cherry Point, N.C. through the incidents of July 1967.

Captain Henry J. Trautwein stated that Daniels had previously discussed with him the possibility of a change of MOS (military occupational specialty) for religious reasons. The effect of this standard military procedure was reported by Trautwein's superior, Major John Hilgers who testified that he was therefore aware that Daniels was a Muslim, and he had "just told Captain Trautwein to keep an eye on him and let me know, one, if he was going to assume a c.o. status; two, if he was influencing the morale or discipline of the Command, because I believe at the time Captain Trautwein said that he had seen them or seen Daniels talking to some other Marine."

News of Legal Lynching Breaks through Marine Corps Cover-Up

During the months between the July incident and the convictions in late November and early December, the Brass managed to keep their preparations for the courts-martial secret – and the establishment press went along with the censorship. So extensive was this cover-up that most people in the anti-war movement did not even hear of the frame-up until long after the trials.

But news of such unspeakable injustice gets through even prison walls and eventually the American Servicemen's Union learned of the case and broke the story in the June 11, 1968 issue of its newspaper, The Bond. At the same time Melvin L. Wulf of the American Civil Liberties Union, with Edward F. Sherman of the Harvard Law School and Conrad Lynn, began preparing appeal briefs at the long-silenced request of the defendants.

Any soldier can testify that the U.C.M.J. offers no protection against the arbitrary rule of the officer caste. And when the Code gets in the Brass' way, even the thin veil of it "justice" is torn to shreds – as in the implacable drive to get Harvey and Daniels.

The denial of even the most rudimentary rights supposedly guaranteed by the U.C.M.J. is impressively detailed in the UCLA appeal briefs to the Military Review board as follows: Denial of free speech. Bias by the presiding officer, constituting denial of a fair and impartial trial. Denial of chosen counsel. Admittance of erroneous confessions. Denial of confrontation of witnesses, amounting to suppression of evidence. Cruel and unusual punishment.

Pentagon Calls It a "Wildcat Strike!"

On March 6, 1969, two Navy Boards of Review at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard heard the appeals. Harvey and Daniels were represented by Edward Sherman, acting for the ACLU. The N.Y. Times of the following day reported the appeals as "a test of the military's power to punish enlisted men who dissent against the Vietnam war."

As of this writing the Review Boards have given no indication regarding their decisions, nor suggested when the judgments might be handed down from the Pentagon.

Captain Lester G. Fant 3d, arguing the case for the Marine Corps, made crystal clear the real nature and the origin of the frame-up of George Daniels and William Harvey. This Pentagon lawyer described the situation at Camp Pendleton in July 1967 as "extraordinarily dangerous" and compared it to a "wildcat strike!"

The Brass was obviously scared by the events of opposition which bubbled up in those summer days of 1967. They lashed out viciously to put down any manifestation of anti-war sentiment and, particularly, any support for the black liberation movement.

"an example to other Marines"

The prosecutor in the Harvey court-martial, Captain Paul R. Constantino, stated the officers' intentions very openly in his recommendation for the maximum sentence:

"We are asking you to punish William Harvey so that others may know that conditions such as this cannot and will not be tolerated in the Marine Corps or in the military service... the accused stands as an example and the government submits to the court that the sentence which the court will impose on the accused will also serve as an example to the other Marines..."

Captain John C. Stein, for the prosecution team in Daniels' trial ended his request for conviction by reminding the panel that one witness "testified that George Daniels said to him that he would rather go to jail than fight for his country. The government respectfully urges that you grant George Daniels' request."

Numerous details of the Brass' persecution of Harvey and Daniels have come to light. The two black Marines were "advised" not to get civilian attorneys, so that the case could be "quietly" handled by military defense lawyers from the Judge Advocate General's office. The Brass tried to make it all appear like a sort of family affair – but were actually conducting a secret trial, which is totally illegal and unconstitutional.

ONI agents went through the whole Company to gather the prosecution witnesses. These flunkies also maneuvered Harvey and Daniels into making "statements" without the advice of personal counsel. The interrogators dictated "confessions" and submitted these constructed documents to the courts-martial as "evidence."

The JAG defense lawyers, Captain Richard J. Riordan and 2nd Lt. Thomas Schwindt, had little time to speak to Marines who were to take the stand at the order of the Marine Corps. In fact, some of these men had been returned from duty in Vietnam just as the trials began. The Law Officer at Harvey's trial actually apologized to the panel of Brass for presenting these witnesses in their battle fatigues. Several men were given leave immediately after questioning by ONI, and were never subsequently available for examination by Defense Counsel.

On the recommendations of Brass in the Base Legal Office, Harvey and Daniels were court-martialled separately, the better to play one case off against the other. The defense lawyers, after originally working on the cases jointly, had little opportunity even to consult each other once the trials began. The lawyer assigned to Harvey was advocating his first case in court, and stated that he felt himself too inexperienced for such a serious case.

Racist Brass Fear Black Liberation Movement

Both Harvey and Daniels are followers of the Nation of Islam, and every minute of their trials shows the racist reaction of the white officers to the accused's belief in self-determination for black people.

Racism shows in little as well as important ways. The court stenographers often recorded black witnesses as saying "he axed me," or "I axed him."

More significantly, a member of the panel in Daniels' trial, Lt. Samuel M. Gordan, stated under Defense questioning as to his attitude about nationalism:

"...if I knew in advance that (a man assigned to my command) was a Black Muslim and advertising this fact, this would to my mind mean trouble and I could see – I could forsee problems..."

Captain Benjamin H. Berry, presiding as Law Officer, became so enraged by one witness' statements on the status of black people in the United States that he called for an out-of-court hearing (similar to a session in a judge's Chambers) to release his frustration at not being able to step down from the bench to challenge the black man's credibility. Adding to the illegal advocacy of the prosecution case, Berry stuttered out his facist forumla:

"...I must profess I am profoundly shocked. Profoundly shocked. I was raised with Negroes. I have know[n] Negroes all my life. I have a very high respect for Negroes and I do not believe one-tenth of what I read in that – and we speak of 'Negro ghettos' and I have been in the Negro section of town many times, and I don't believe one-tenth of that."

The picture of Captain Berry can be rounded out by his rejection of Defense Counsel's motion to dismiss the case against Daniels on the Constitutional grounds of free speech and freedom of assembly:

"A very strict and narrow construction of the First Amendment would certainly support the argument that you have made, but... (it) recalled to my mind the statement – and I don't recollect right now who it was that made it, but 'My country, right or wrong, is still my country' and I think that as a matter of Constitutional law that pretty well wraps up the expression of what the situation is, and we do not have the right, so long as we are citizens of this country to attempt to impair this country."

From mid-August until the courts-martial opened, Harvey and Daniels were isolated from their fellow Marines and from any possible support. Daniels spent all but about three weeks in a "segregation cell" – solitary confinement – admittedly because of his views as a Muslim.

Taken all together, the circumstances of Harvey and Daniels' frame-up show one of the most flagrant cases of kangaroo justice in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps; the kind of occurrence which shows the U.S. Military to be anything but the guardian of "American democracy" its officers and the big business politicians profess it to be.

Anti-War Soldiers Need Organized Support

The anti-war movement has only recently become aware of the strong resistance within the Armed Forces by GIs against the war, the Brass, and the fascistic military establishment. Such resistance began individually, but has become more organized, with increasing militancy and assertiveness on the part of the soldiers. At the same time the frightened Brass has been reacting with increasing viciousness against the rebellious soldiers.

The pioneers of resistance within the Armed Forces, Johnson, Samas and Mora of the valiant Fort Hood Three, were given from three to four years for refusing to go to Vietnam. Harvey and Daniels received six and ten years for nothing more than speaking out against the war.

Countless other GIs have been court-martialed, fined, restricted, investigated and imprisoned for their opposition to the tyranny of the Brass.

More recently the Pentagon committed another outrage against all GIs; at the courts-martial of the Presidio stockade prisoners for their protest against the murder of a fellow prisoner at the hands of an MP, as well as against the inhuman conditions in the stockade. The first three of these prisoners got sentences ranging from thirteen to sixteen years.

In several cases, on the other hand, GIs have won partial victories because of publicity obtained for their cases, and because of the mobilization of civilian support by groups such as the Committee for GI Rights. Intervention by the American Servicemen's Union has been particularly helpful – as in the trials of the 43 black GIs at Fort Hood in late 1968. These soldiers made it known that they would refuse duty in the suppression of any black rebellion or anti-war activity during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. The ASU coordinated legal defense and with a delegation from the Committee for GI Rights, helped to focus national attention on the trials. Consequently, the Brass had to back off a long way and give relatively mild punishment.

Put the Brass on Trial!

The Brass' frame-up of Harvey and Daniels came easier because these men were isolated not only from the other Marines in their Company, but from any civilian support they may have wanted. It is too late to intervene against the Pentagon's offensive of July 1967, but it remains for the anti-war movement to make their case known nation-wide and to raise a cry for their release which will penetrate the walls of the Portsmouth Brig.

The case of George Daniels and William Harvey should justly end in putting the Brass on trial and handing down approximate retribution for their crimes against these two black Marines and every other brig and stockade prisoner.


The Committee for GI Rights supports the American Servicemen's Union, the foremost organization of soldiers in the U.S. Armed Forces. The ASU has grown enormously since its founding in December, 1967, and now has members at all major military bases in the U.S. and around the world.


  1. An end to saluting and sir-ring of officers – let's get off our knees.
  2. Election of officers by vote of the men.
  3. Racial equality.
  4. Rank and filers control of court-martial boards.
  5. Federal minimum wage.
  6. The right of free political association.
  7. The right of collective bargaining.
  8. The right to disobey illegal orders – like orders to go and fight in an illegal war in Vietnam.

For further information:

Room 633, 156 - 5th Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10010
Tel: (212)675-6780

Subscribe to The BOND, The Voice of the ASU
Staff: Pvt. Andy Stapp (ret.), PFC F.O. Richardson (ret.), PFC Bill Smith (ret.), Sp/4 Dick Wheaton (ret.) and Sp/5 Bob LeMay (ret.)
Six-month subscription: $3.00



"...now it's your turn."

Note that the last time we dealt with these beasts, we asked that I be released. This time we demand.

This may sound radical to you but what was done to us was radical. Two men sentenced to 6 and 10 years for dissenting against the war? The reason is because we are black, intelligent, and refuse to be pushed. Niggers just ain't supposed to act like that!

While I was brainwashed into believing that the cause for going overseas was a just cause, I did show that I would put on a uniform and fight if necessary to protect people like you. Now that we are hip to what's really happening, it's the people's turn to protect me. Only the don't have to pick up rifles, just pens. Hang petitions in the Candy Store, Herman's, the Center, and every other place you can think of because now it's your turn.

(Portions of a letter from George Daniels to a friend in his hometown.)

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