Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Spies of Texas

When former University of Texas police chief Allen Hamilton died, his son donated his papers to Half Price Books. The elder Hamilton's papers initially came to light in the context of the 1966 UT Tower shootings, but they also reveal formidable surveillance activities conducted by UT and Austin police on campus area non-conformists during the Sixties.

At the behest of iron-fisted Board of Regents chairman Frank Erwin, UT police infiltrated the campus SDS chapter and also kept tabs on students like Janis Joplin, Lloyd Doggett and Kinky Friedman. With LBJ in the White House, UT had extra impetus to keep a tight lid on dissent.

Another person spied on was Thorne Dreyer, editor of The Rag, an underground newspaper Erwin tried to ban before the Supreme Court stopped him. Dreyer exposes UT’s surveillance in this fascinating Texas Observer story.

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