Trials: Mutiny in the Presidio

The routine roll call at the Presidio stockade in San Francisco was disrupted last October. Linking arms and singing We Shall Overcome, 27 Army prisoners staged a sitdown protest. An hour later, they were hauled off to their cells, charged with mutiny — one of a baker's dozen of crimes ranging from murder to rape punishable by death under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

At the outset of their mass trial, a seven-man court-martial board was told by the presiding law officer that it was a "nonviolent mutiny." Maximum pen alty: life in prison. To simplify defense procedures, the...

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