tv QA Joe Tropea Skizz Cyzyk CSPAN June 18, 2018 6:52pm-8:01pm EDT
disobedience in american history. host: what was the reason for the documentary? >> i was a history student working on my master's degree and needed a topic to write a paper and heard of them. but i decided to you know, find out more what it was all about. and from that one class, first it turned into a feature story that i wrote for the baltimore city paper and then it blossomed into a documentary film. host: how did you divide your work on this? >> i handled more of the film making and joe handled more of
the content. i came on as a favor when he was doing the interviews for the paper. suggested, don't take a audio recorder but a video recorder because it will be helpful. and i rode along. and after a few years, i was getting more work on his than mine. host: i have some names that you are familiar with. il berry began, tom lewis, mary, marjory and john. what did they do? >> in brief, they formed a plan to attack the selective service system. they found a draft office that was ideal that happened to be in
maryland and formed a plan to enter that office, remove 1-a draft files which were likely to be drafted for the vietnam war and put them in wire baskets and burned them and burned them and did this as a protest to the vietnam war. and the notable thing is that the age of protestors ranged from 26 years old to 46 years old. most of them were not in danger of ever being drafted. and two of them were veterans. >> they waited around to be arrested after they did this knowing the arrest would make the news which would bring their message to the public and also knowing that the arrest would lead to a trial which would keep them in the news and keep their message. host: how many of those nine went to prison?
>> all of them except one. mary had gone underground. four of them decided to go underground after the trial and sentencing. mary stayed underground for nine years and eventually turned herself in. at that point, i'm not sure if she had to serve prison time. 3 some of them served up to 1/2 years. >> where is this? >> it is like a western suburb of baltimore. right on the outstirts, baltimore county. host: what's out there and why did they pick that area? >> the draft board that's there wasn't exactly heavily guarded. it was easy to access.
it was kind of a small quiet town. the previous action of the baltimore four was like in the heart of the city and in a big government building. this was in a knights of columbus hall. host: this documentary 2013 was five years ago. can people see it? >> they can. it's available on several streaming sites, a.m.a done and pan dora and purchase it on the internet and go to our website to find out where you can see it and purchase it. host: look at the first clip. what does it mean? >> like a hit and run except you don't run. you made your hit and stay and wait. host: whose idea was it to make that title? >> i think it was my idea. i'm not sure it was an original
idea. i heard people use the term and it seemed like a catchy title. host: patrick mcgrath is a well known name and on channel 9 here i believe in washington. but you lead off with patrick mcgrath, where is he? >> we have returned to the scene of the crime with him. at the knights of columbus hall where the selective service rented a second floor room. host: why did you pick hum to start your film? >> he is well spoken. i knew he would know how to be in front of the camera, but also he covered the story. who better to tell it than the guy that was invited in a clandestine way. host: let's watch a 0-second clip there. >> ran around somewhat out of breath around the side of the building and the camera man
turned on his camera and you see the shaky footage and john hogan who lit the match and started the fire. we had no idea what we were looking at. you spotteded immediately there were two catholic priests there. he was a figure of some importance in the news in baltimore and i recognized his brother dan. host: any of the nine still alive? >> not many of them. eorge and marjory. host: what does it mean that the members were members of the catholic left? >> as we understand it, the anti-war movement was thought of scruffy-haired college professors and middle-aged
clergy and think if they are against this war, maybe i should that was sort of the turning point for the antiwar movement. brian: another 30-second clip. this is the catonsville draft for clerk. you can explain after we watch it. [video clip] >> i was sitting at my desk and these two ladies were with me and these gentlemen came in the hall. i said, can i help you? with that, the rest of them came in quickly. all of a sudden. one man was a trash burner. he ran to my files and started dumping files into this trash burner. [end video clip] brian: how many of these kinds of events happened across the country? joe: it is difficult to say. the ones connected to the catholic left, as we call them, or the action community, i
charted 40 to 50 actions. the numbers get interesting. one draft board, one selective service office could have any number of actual draft board files contained in it. 40 to 50 actions that hit well over 200 different draft boards. brian: how did these nine people come together in the first place? skizz: there was a community, the catholic left. these were people that knew each other either from the seminary, they were connected. three of the members of the nine had traveled to guatemala to be missionaries. they were part of the same circuit, i guess you could call it. it was a community that stayed in touch and kept each other aware of what was happening. they had similar sympathies being against the war. brian: how did you two meet? skizz: we met on a sidewalk
outside of a rock club in august of 1993. i was showing up to see one of of the bands, and joe was in one of the bands. they needed a drummer, and i was a drummer. i met joe and my partner at the same time all those years ago. we ended up playing in bands together. brian: i read somewhere that you lived in an old funeral home. joe: yes. we lived in a house known as the mansion theater. it had been a funeral home. by the time we lived there, it was a decrepit, rundown house, where bohemian artist types lived. we had a lot of room to work with. the viewing room, our living room, was turned into a screening room. a spare single room was turned into a dark room.
there was a waiting room for one of the bathrooms that was turned into a recording studio. it was a great place to be in your 20's and be creative. brian: do you two consider yourselves members of the underground? or did you at one point? and if you did or did not, what is the underground? joe: i consider myself a public historian. i was a musician. i guess i was an underground musician, although i hesitate to use that term. skizz: i go back and forth on that term. i guess i am an underground artist, because most of what i do is not exactly mainstream or funded or easily available, most of it. but i don't think in terms -- i just sort of do what i like to do and hope it finds a some some acceptance. brian: where do you work now? skizz: i work for a company that publishes financial papers. i'm a video producer, and i work a block away from joe. joe: i work at the historical
society where i am a curator of films and photographs. brian: when we saw the lady who was the clerk at the selective service headquarters is she , still alive? were you able to find her? joe: she is no longer with us. but we had that wonderful archival footage of her explaining her side of the story. i have been in touch with her daughter recently, who wrote an op-ed to "the baltimore sun" about the anniversary of the catonsville 9. it was quite a touching letter. she disagreed with her mom politically, particularly on the vietnam war. but it was her mother and she understood her side of it. as you can see, ms. murphy felt very attached to the files. she says "my files." and, she apparently boasted that she had drafted her own husband. i can't remember if it was for world war ii or the korean war, but that was one of her sort of
claims to fame. brian: how many draft cards were in that pile that they burned in catonsville? it wasin catonsville, 378 a1 draft card files. it was a relatively low number compared to what they were subsequently able to destroy. brian: did you meet anyone who was able to avoid the draft because their card was burned? sizz: yes, every time there's a publicly,the film they would come forward and say i was one who did not get drafted, or my father was one who does not get drafted. there's no way to prove it. brian: here are nine people from your documentary. [video clip] >> phil was trying to recruit more people than nine. he felt the bigger the better. we want a cross-section of
america. i guess he felt these should be people who are middle-class, fairly privileged, well-regarded by society. that was his theme for who should be acting to commit civil disobedience. [end video clip] brian: what is your sense of talking to people in and around the story? the end, thinkhin it was worth it? joe: i believe most of them think it was worth it. they did not end the vietnam war, but i don't see how you can argue that it did not help end the draft. the head of the selective service said publicly they felt they were under attack. clearly, you can draw a line from what they did to the draft ending in 1973. it was a relatively effective action, if you consider the amount of time it took. considering their goal. brian: what would you do today is the same situation arose and you were draftable?
skizz: tough question. it is such a different time today. i mean, there is a lot more security. you could not really get away with something like this. i don't even think you could plan something like this without the authorities knowing what you were up to. so i do not know. brian: where did you learn about t before you did this documentary, and how many documentaries did you do before this one? skizz: for me, this was the second in a series of three documentaries. i finished them the reverse order they were started. brian: what were the others about? skizz: one is called "freaks in love," about a band called alice donut, that was made quickly, like, two years. and then "hit & stay." "architects of the moon," which took 19 years.
all three of them were being made at the same time. brian: what did you learn about protesting whether or not this , thing matters? skizz: there is a great quote in the film, i think it was laura whitehorn who says, you may meet someone yars later who says, that film made me think about it , and i went out and did something. itaid meet someone who convinced me to go out on my own. some may wonder -- will i be wasting my time if i go out to that protest? so the answer is, no you are not wasting your time. every protest will influence someone's opinion. brian: what did it cost you and how did you get the money? joe: we made this film relatively inexpensively in the world of documentary, under $50,000. that was with a lot of
generosity of friends and people who wanted their story to be told. we used kickstarter to do a crowdfunding way to put most of the money together. but really, it was the kindness of people who just wanted the story told that did a lot of in-kind work. brian: we are going to run a clip of the burning. you point out that they used napalm. what is napalm and why was that used? joe: they used napalm because they wanted to illustrate the point that the u.s. government was taking a product made by dow chemical and dumping it on the forests and people of vietnam. they got the idea from an army manual explaining how to make napalm in an impromptu way. you just take gasoline and laundry flakes and cook them.
they decided not to cook them, because it sounded dangerous. cooking gasoline. so they symbolically combined these things together in someone's basement in baltimore and transferred it into the gas cans that you see in the video. that was their point. that if napalm was to be used on people, it should be used on draft records. brian: by the way, where did you find this archival material? skizz: all over. i mean, the actual footage of the action came from pat mcgrath. joe: guess, thanks to pat mcgrath, that footage exists. the tv station, once they got it back from the government after the trial, they were going to throw it in the dumpster, which is actually where most of their archival materials went. luckily, pat decided, no, this one is coming home with me rather than into the dumpster. but a lot of this was done
through doing oral histories of people. i would meet one person, and they would mention three names. later, when i was transcribing, i would think -- who is this person? then i would find out and realize that the story went further than i originally thought. brian: here is the brief video of the napalm being used to burn the draft cards. [video clip] >> napalm, which was made from information, formula from the special forces handbook, made by the special warfare manual from the united states. >> we all had a hand in making the napalm that is used here today. >> napalm is a very old weapon. it really came to public attention during the war in vietnam. pictures of napalmed people. that was the kind of quintessential picture of the war. they were burning babies, literally, in vietnam. [end video clip]
brian: in this documentary, how did you partition off which part you were interested in doing? joe: it originally started out that it was only going to be a documentary of the catonsville 9. it was encouraged by the members of the 9. i did not know that there was a d.c. 9 that existed. that led to finding out an action had happened in chicago. it reached upstate new york and the rochester flower conspiracy and the olfaction in providence , rhode island. i sort of learned as i research and was writing the story, there was so much more story to tell. brian: was the catonsville 9 the first of these? joe: no. it was actually the second. the first was the baltimore
involved two members of the catonsville nine, and it happened in october of 1967. two of the members were repeat offenders and basically put themselves in double jeopardy . they were try for both actions and received longer sentences because of that. brian: how many of the nine were catholic priests? joe: two of them were catholic priests. there was dan and phil berrigan. two of them were christian brothers. there was a third priest, thomas melville. as i said three of them had been , missionaries that went to water mollo. guatemala. brian: one was a niun. joe: then one was a nun.
brian: here is from your documentary, no this is not from your documentary. but we will show you. [video clip] >> the result of burning the files. is that iresult to me didn't remain silent while those files offered open season on human beings in southeast asia. i consider those files like hunting licenses against humans. i did not want that done in my name. [end video clip] brian: did he stay a priest? joe: he did, yes. he was not forced out of the order. he was a jesuit all the way. brian: that was from the "quest for peace" series at uc irvine. how much did his brother phil have to do with any of this? skizz: his brother phil talked him into doing it. there were only going to be eight of them. apparently dan and phil stayed , up drinking one night in early may.
phil sort of convinced and that dan that he should do it. dan realized he had to other choice but to do it. brian: he died back in 2002. joe: yes, phil did. brian: here he is, the priest from your documentary. [video clip] >> they forget about the destruction of human beings and they say they got violent over property. and they burned those papers, but when property is destroyed, and they love it deserves -- and to beof it deserves destroyed, to illustrate how it is employed to abuse and kill and maim human beings. brian: do you have any idea how well known they were in those days? you are not around when this happened.
skizz: it seems like they were pretty well-known in the antiwar movement. joe: dan was a well-known poet. he won the lamont prize in 1966 or 1967, which is a prize you win for your second book. he was a pretty established national name, even beyond catholic circles. brian: what was the hardest part of this documentary for you? skizz: editing it down to a time that worked. joe: it was hard. parts of it were so complicated, we did not feel like we should make people sit through a two-hour movie. brian: do you have any idea how much video you shot for this? skizz: i used to know. joe: we shot 80 interviews. i suppose a lot of b roll. a lot of them were three-hour interviews.r
skizz: probably over 100 hours of footage. for a feature-length documentary, that's not that much. but it seems like a lot, especially when you have to start editing and watch all of it. brian: what kind of equipment did you use? skizz: we mostly shot with a panasonic x100b. at the time, it was a state-of-the-art camera. but while we were shooting, hd came in and sort of made digital cameras useless. we continued to use it, but by the time we finished the film, hd had come in, and we were not making an hd film. brian: is there any hd in this as well? skizz: oh, yes. a lot of the animation is hd. interviewita melville is hd. joe: it is amazing how much technology changed in the course of seven years of making this. brian: what did you edit it on? skizz: final cut pro. the last thing i edited on that.
brian: there are two people we are going to see, dave everhart and james mingle. who are they? joe: they are members of the baltimore 4, the two that did not go on to do the catonsville 9. they went into the courthouse in baltimore and poured blood on the draft records and then waited to be arrested. brian: where did they get the blood? joe: it was a combination of phil berrigan's blood and blood that they got at a market from a polish meat stand. brian: did you ask anybody about why they used blood? and why they use real blood? joe: i did. it was a very symbolic action, very catholic, the blood of christ. they wanted to implicate the church and not just shock america, but shock the church. they felt the church was complicit in the war, condoning the war in vietnam.
so it was a purely symbolic action. for the catonsville 9, they felt realized that it was maybe too symbolic, and innocence that using blood freaked people out and cause them to miss the point. by then, they realized fire would work much better than blood. brian: here is dave everhart and james mengle. [video clip] >> we went to the clerks and told them we wanted to look at the files. we told them we had experience with draft counselors, so they sent us back. we had mr. clean bottles with blood under our coats that were filled with blood. the clerks were very agitated and upset.
james: then we just sat and waited until the guards came. brian: which one is which? joe: the first one was dave everhart. the second person with a white beard is reverend james mengle. brian: when you are videoing how intense are they about all this to this day? skizz: they are pretty intense. some of the people did not want to talk about certain things. they are worried about there being no statute of limitations for some of the crimes. joe: they are a disciplined group. once you get them talking, they are very passionate about it. it takes some doing. but some people never even talked to us is worried about getting in trouble even decades later. brian: when you approach the interview, what were the ground rules? joe: i approach everyone as a historian. i let them know that they should
not say anything in my interview that they would not want the world to know, that i would be transcribing their interviews and making them available to people in an archive. most people understood that. we did have one or two people ask -- and i offered everyone to see the transcript afterwards. i wanted to make sure the things they told me were accurate. and in one case, that caused someone to realize that a large part of what they said was not accurate. and in another case, someone got kind of cold feet about some of the things they said and asked us to consider not using the footage. brian: when they would not talk to you, what was there reason? and how often did it happen? joe: i think activism affects people differently over the course of time. some people seemed very traumatized by not what they had done, but what they had lived
through and lived with the fear of being caught or being prosecuted for what they had done. so, yeah, some people were hesitant. there were plenty of people to talk to. these actions we chronicle in the film take way more than the number and the name the would indicate. the catonsville 9 was pulled off by well over a dozen and a half people. in a lot of cases, we got to speak with support activists, people who never intended to stand up and take responsibility and be arrested. they just wanted to play a small role in the action and help but not have to spend years in prison. brian: who is the most memorable person that you talked to? and why? skizz: there's a tie for first place between howard zinn and noam chomsky. just because they are so well
known and so well-respected and inspired. it was a real thrill to meet both of them. brian: where did you find them, and what was the gist of the conversation? skizz: there is a part of the film that was cut out, and in extra in the dvd about howard zin going with dan berrigan to rescue some of our soldiers. luckily, we had some archival footage of howard then as well as the interview that we shot, whenever that was -- 2007? 2008? brian: what about gnome chomsky? and for people who do not know them, who are they? joe: howard zin was a famous historian, a personal idol of mine. noam chomsky is technically a linguist, but he is also a political theorist and an expert
on nearly everything. we approach them through the universities they were working for. zinn was at boston, and chomsky was at m.i.t. i found their university address. they were both very approachable and agreeable to talk to us. they were a big part of the story. both of them came to baltimore for the trial of the catonsville 9 and testified. they were eager to talk. brian: where would you say that you got your early political views? skizz: i did not think of it at the time, but i was raised unitarian. since i did not really know much about other religions, my senior year in high school, i had to write a report. everyone in the class had to take their religion and write a report on it. so i did research on the unitarian church and realized it was kind of a radical church.
it had never really dawned on me. growing up because that was all i knew. it was around the same time that i got into punk rock. we are talking early 1980's when punk rock was still this kind of threatening thing for the mainstream. so those two things combined, and a lot of the lyrics in the music i was listening to, made me rethink how i was reading the newspaper. brian: what did you do about it besides the music? skizz: there were protests, writing. brian: what have you protested the most? skizz: war, antiwar. brian: is there any time you see the united states going to war for anything? skizz: what do you mean? brian: are you a pacifist, a conscientious objector? skizz: i am. i had to register for the draft, and i registered as a conscientious objector. i cannot say that word. that's a tough question.
i can't really think of anything offhand unless we were threatened in a way that was no other way. but it seems like there is always a way, there is always another way other than violence. brian: joe, what about you got ? when did you begin to form your own views about all this? joe: i was raised catholic. but my parents were what you would call reagan democrats. so i guess i had been living in rebellion of that since the 1980's. i vividly remember -- i was born in 1969. the chances of me ever being drafted were very, very, very low. but i always worried that they might bring the draft back. there was talk of it. it seemed a very real possibility in my young mind. and i suppose that influenced my political views. to answer the same question, i haven't seen many examples in
u.s. history where we have justifiably gone into war. so i can't -- i would describe myself as a pacifist. brian: when you registered for the draft, did you put conscientious objector on it? joe: i did not. i was not that politically aware or awake at 18. i knew that i wanted to try to go to college and get loans, so i registered. brian: one of the men from the documentary "still alive," stephen sachs, he was an attorney general of maryland and also assistant u.s. attorney. who is he? skizz: stephen sachs is a former state attorney who prosecuted the baltimore 4 for their action. but was not a hands-on prosecutor during the trial of the catonsville 9. he is a very nice man. i met with him since we filmed
him in the film. he still stands by his beliefs. role and his beliefs. but for someone who i disagree with on this particular topic, he is a wonderful human being, and i'm glad to know him. brian: he is a democrat and would be a liberal? joe: you can describe in that way. he did run for office, i don't think successfully, in the 1980's. but yes, i think he would identify as a democrat. brian: let's look at stephen sachs. mr. sachs: we are not talking about trials here in the normal sense of the word, skill and examination and witnesses, objections that are appropriate. this was theater. this was not litigation in the normal sense. it was intended to be theater. that is why they did it. [end video clip] brian: how many of the catonsville 9 went to prison? skizz: all of them, except for
mary moylan, who successfully went underground for nine years. joe: i'm not 100% sure that she ever had to serve time. i think by the time she turned herself in, they may have shown leniency. i think her health was fading at that point. brian: how many of the catonsville 9 married each other? [chuckling] joe: as far as i know, just tom and margie melville, which happened on their way out of guatemala, before the catonsville 9 took place. brian: here's some video of both the of them. coming back from guatemala was the sole focus of my participation in catonsville. saw what i saw the united states do in guatemala, that was a democratic government that they overthrew.
the united states was similar to guatemala. it was a similar situation. you are fighting against peasants. all they want is freedom to work their land and make a family. [end video clip] brian: what was the catholic church's reaction to this film? joe: they were not thrilled. they expelled, banished, i'm not sure with the proper term is. skizz: excommunicated? joe: not that strong. away for dan barragan being too politically active. they sent him to france where he was slightly politically activated. then they sent them to latin america, which was probably a very bad idea if they wanted him to calm down. this was before the catonsville 9. he had been sent away for acting in a way that they were not thrilled with. for speaking up. people were active around the civil rights movement.
phil berrigan was moved around a lot. he was stationed in new orleans with a parish and they moved him to newburgh, new york, because he had been too politically active in new orleans and too politically active in newburgh, new york. they sent him to baltimore, which in hindsight was not a good idea. but he was not excommunicated. he was stripped of his priesthood officially when he married liz mcallister. so he did marry, but liz mcallister did a lot of other political activism but was not a member of the catonsville 9. brian: what was the farthest you had to go to do one of your interviews, and how did you afford to do this and work at the same time when you only spent $50,000 on this? skizz: hawaii. [laughter] skizz: we shot an interview in hawaii, except we did not go there. we got somebody else there to
shoot it for us, and via skype, we sat in joe's apartment in baltimore and gave direction and asked the questions. and they sent us the footage. so that is the farthest away. joe: that was the farthest away we did not have to go. we shot most of it on the east coast. you know, we were trying to keep our jobs, and we were trying to do this inexpensively. so i would write to people and say, if you have any plans to visit the east coast, new york, d.c., baltimore, i would love to speak to you. and we did a number of interviews that way. i think the farthest we had to drive was vermont. boston and vermont. brian: remind us what you do know for a living. skizz: i am a video producer for a company that publishes financial newsletters. brian: how long have you been doing that? skizz: about four years. brian: do you still should you do documentaries on the side? is it a way to make money? or is it personal, political beliefs. skizz: it's a way to make money for some people, but i have not
quite mastered that part yet. i still make films on the side. in fact, the day job has allowed us to keep making our films, because i have access to a video studio and a lot of gear that we can use for our own projects. brian: and, joe? joe: i am a curator of films and photographs at the maryland historical society, where i do exhibits, writing, and digitize our materials. and they are very supportive of my filmmaking efforts. it is the kind of thing where i have to have a day job, and it is a good day job for that. i currently have an exhibit at the historical society called "activism and art: the catonsville 9, 50 years later." the exhibit uses artwork from one of the 9, tom lewis, and segments of the film, "hit & stay." that exhibit will be up for the next year. brian: where is the historic society?
joe: the maryland historical society is in baltimore, a block on monument street, literally a block from the washington monument. yes, we have a washington monument as well. it is in the mount vernon neighborhood. it is a very nice neighborhood. brian: a clip of mcallister and george michie, who are they> liz is still with us. she is currently in prison for a plowshares action that she did, which was an anti-nuke protest. brian: where in she in prison? joe: i forget which prison she is in. i do get emails on the progress of her case. brian: what do you mean by "plowshares"? joe: plowshares is a movement
that sprang up in the 1980's, maybe as early as 1970's by phil berrigan and liz mcallister from a community that they started in baltimore called jonah house, which is a resistance community, still in existence today. they planned actions inspired by their previous action where they would sneak onto nuclear facilities, taken vials of blood and hammers, and symbolically hammer on nuclear warheads and put blood on them and wait to be arrested. liz is still active in this activity today. brian: here they are from your documentary. [video clip] liz: there were over 100 draft board actions in this country. the director of the selective service center acknowledged that these operations had really undercut their ability to operate. >> the combination of my mind was the chicago 15 when they went into the ghettos of cells such a condo and are draft
cards. vietnam was mainly being filed by blacks and latinos in this country while white kids would go to college. as long as you got to going to college, you got your draft burned. [end video clip] brian: that's a video that you shot. it looked like you had two cameras. skizz: yes. we did have two cameras. joe: bob good is one of the first people you see in our film. brian: where was that? joe: on charles street, not far from where we live. brian: who is bob good? bob good as one of the first people you see in the film . they were motivated to take part in these draft board rates
raids, because their brother had been drafted and killed in vietnam. brian: bob good is still alive. joe: bob good is still alive. i believe he is in the rochester area. [video clip] .rian: here he is [video clip] bob: he went on to talk about the pentagon papers. so he went through a time where he started giving a litany of what the american people and been told about the war and what the pentagon papers said about the war and what the american people had been told about why we were there. and what the american people been told about the progress of the war and what the pentagon people said. and it keeps coming back over and over like a greek chorus. tin, oil and rubber. [end video clip] brian: talking about testimony that howard zinn gave before the trial. it keeps coming back to this. he is talking about the testimony that howard zinn gave before the trial. how much of your involvement is motivated solely by your politics? skizz: i am definitely in agreement with all the politics in the film. i probably would not have done
this myself if joe had not invited me to be involved. so far, my other documentaries have been music documentaries. but the politics of the music is to the left as well. brian: what did you learn about the vietnam war in this? skizz: i already knew that the vietnam war was bad. i had an uncle that i never knew before he came back from vietnam. i always heard about how much the war had affected him. i grew up knowing him after he came back. i did not know how many vietnamese had been killed. i don't think i knew how many americans had been killed. i didn't realize just how much life was lost for that war. brian: there was an informant an , fbi informant in all of this. you have him in the documentary. who was it? explain the situation. joe: it is very complicated.
because the catonsville 9 happened, they were sent to prison, and because other actions started springing up, j all over the country, j edgar hoover got very upset and involved. not only were draft boards raided, but people were starting to go over fbi offices. someone planned to go after both when they were stored in a the same federal building. hoover got very agitated and wanted to name someone has the as the leader of this movement and paint them as dangerous criminals. it was said by one prosecutor that they were as dangerous as organized crime. he basically painted the berrigans -- who did taunt him in some ways, when he went underground, he kept appearing
in public and getting away every time, sort of thumbing his nose at hoover. hoover and the fbi attempted to paint the berrigans as the leaders of this catholic left movement. they accused him, specifically phil berrigan and some other conspirators, of plotting to blow up tunnels in washington, d.c., and kidnap henry kissinger. none of these things were 100% true. these are things people had been talking about doing, having conversations about, but there was an informant that got a hold of this information and had been feeding it to the fbi. it culminated in a case known as "the harrisburg conspiracy." brian: this is from the camden 28, back in 2007, not from your documentary. have bob party in your documentary, the fbi informant. we just want to show him apologizing for his involvement.
[video clip] bob: michael, i can't respond because i did wrong to you. and i'm sorry. i can do nothing else. >> is that good enough for you? no. it is a hard question. it takes time for fractures to heal. [end video clip] brian: did you meet bob hardy? joe: i did not meet bob hardy. that was from the camden 28 trial in which bob hardy had been an informant and had been fed information and funds from the fbi to make sure that action went down. i did not get to meet bob hardy, but one of the members of the
camden 28, ed mcgowan, at one point wanted to make one of his own documentaries and had filmed interviews with bob hardy and with other people. he graciously allowed us to use interview footage and our film. i believe that footage was from a film called the "camden 28." that is an excellent film are also and it certainly influenced our work. brian: the last clip from your documentary. liz mcallister was married to phil berrigan for how many years? joe: they married in probably 1969 or 1970's secretly, and until phil passed away in 2002 or 2003. brian: this is about what you mentioned, the harrisburg conspiracy, trying to kidnap henry kissinger. in the end, there was something called the love letters back and forth between these two, phil berrigan and liz mcallister. let's watch this. [video clip] phil: not saying that it wasn't talked about or approached, but it was no. period. that was it. of course, howard got back to j edgar hoover in december.
well, that's obvious. the letters. liz: just stupid letters i wrote to phil about some of the things people were talking about, not realizing they were always monitoring his mail. but also, no matter how subtlely you try to say something, they will try to make something of it. phil: when the revelation came out of what they were really about, that was a shocker. and that was across the board, especially when you are sitting back and knowing that the government knows more about their relationship than you do. brian: how surprised were you to find out the fbi was reading the mail of the prisoner? skizz: i mean really, not too surprised.
the interview with liz was the first time we heard about the letters. joe: i knew nothing about the story and just asked her questions, and this came out. it probably took me six months to realize what we had just talked about, to fully appreciate what we had just talked about. i should point out that these were not letters that she mailed to the prison. there was an informant named boyd douglas who was in prison with phil but on work release. he positioned himself as a leftist sympathizer and he reached out to her and said, if you want to get messages to phil, i will be glad to get them to him. unfortunately, she fell for that. because i think they had a connection, and she wanted to communicate with him. like she said, she wanted to keep his spirit up and let him know people were still planning actions and agitating against the war. of course what boyd douglas did was take the letters, have them
transcribed, and give copies to the fbi. brian: people can still get the catonsville 9 documentary, how? joe: they can visit our website, www.hitandstay.ocm. there is a page that will tell you where it is streaming and how to purchase the dvd. brian: what is something called the jennifers? skizz: the jennifers was a band that formed in the early 1990's. joerd the mid to late 1990's, joined the band. around 2001, i joined the band. i guess she left around 2010 and i is still in the band. i play drums. joe: i play bass. 30-second clip. i'm not sure what clip this is. [video clip] >> ♪ the best laid plans
are slipping through our hands because this is not a well-intentioned world ♪ [end video clip] brian: what did we just see? skizz: that is a music video that i made for the band. joe is in the red shirt, and i am holding the note cards. joe: he did not mention that in addition to the documentaries, he has done a lot of animated films and videos and music videos. that was all his doing. he designed the shirts that we wore and changed them to appear have them appear to be singing the song. brian: how long did that take to do? skizz: 18 months. i did not work the entire 18 months, but from the day we
started to making the video to the day we finished, it was 18 months. brian: what is the film? joe: that is our new documentary that premiered in february at the big sky documentary film festival. it is the history of film censorship in the u.s., and we look at the maryland board of censors to tell the story, because they were the longest lasting censor board in the country. they operated from 1916 until 1981. we look at all the different reasons why films were censored and banned. and they were not all because of sex. brian: here is a 45-second clip from that documentary. [video clip] >> anything that restrains or restricts or prohibits freedom of expression. that includes things like the state boards of censorship, like the one in maryland. >> i do remember the seal so vividly. i can still see it. >> in maryland, deciding what is and is not obscene is the job of
an official censorship board. gibson has a report of one board member, a very outspoken 70-year-old grandmother. >> regardless if anybody says that it's my constitutional right. big deal. constitutional right. written, did they have these type of films that were being shown? [end video clip] brian: what were you trying to accomplish there? joe: obviously, we had a great star to work with in archival footage, mary avara, who you just saw. i was trying to look at the reasons people want to ban things. it was another research journey for me. i figured that sex was a big reason the films would have been banned. i was slightly more surprised to learn that race was a reason why we banned films. politics was a reason. sacrilege against religion was a reason that we banned films.
and it occurred to me that it was an interesting story that oftentimes was comical. that's why i wanted to tell the story. brian: what are you working on now? skizz: i'm not really working on anything. i just finished a documentary that to 19 years to make. i am currently working on getting that seen. it's called "ice pick to the moon." it is about a singer called reverend fred lane. joe: i have a couple of projects that i am working on. but i am not quite ready to talk about them. so mostly "sickies making films" is what i am trying to get out to the world. brian: our guests have been joe tropea and skizz cyzyk. thank you for coming and talking about your film about your documentary "catonsville 9." both: thanks for having us. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national
cable satellite corp. 2018] ♪ announcer: for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at qanda.org. "q&a" programs are also available as program c-span podcasts. >> on next week's "q&a," university of pennsylvania professor amy wax talks about the limits on free expression on campuses in the u.s., including \she has received. fbi director christopher wray testified about the ig report into hillary clinton's personal
email. watch that coming up at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span. ♪ c-span's "washington journal," live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up tuesday morning, supreme court correspondent -- hurleyardly discusses gerrymandering cases. on thehrisfarrell hillary clinton investigation. then, just as paul spiegel talks about families being separated trump'president immigrations policy. be sure to watch "washington journal," live at 7:00 a.m. eastern. join the discussion. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily.
1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. and today, we continue to bring unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme eventsand public policy in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. politicoline from "defiant trump chooses to back off migrant family separations." president trump spoke briefly about border security today in light of the issue of my grandchildren being separated from their parents at the border. he made the remarks at a national space council event. pres. trump: if i might, i just want to make a brief statement on immigration and what is happening, and i will say is very honestly, and i will say it
very strange. fault and all the of the problems that we are having, if we cannot get them to cannotgislation, we get them to the negotiating table, and i say it's very strongly, it is the democrats' fault. they are really obstructionists, obstructionists. the united states will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility. and won't be. if you look at what is happening in europe and other countries, we cannot allow that to happen in the united states, not on my watch. for the rest of the world, you look at everything that is taking place, pick up the newspapers this morning, and you see. we want safety, and we want security for our country. sit-downemocrats what
instead of -- if the democrats would sit down and set of obstructing, we could have something done quickly, good for the children, the for the country, good for the world, that could take place quickly. we could have an immigration bill. we could have child separation -- we are stuck with these horrible laws. they are horrible laws. what is happening is so sad. it is so sad. and it can be taken care of beautifully, and we will have safety. this could really be something very special. it could be something maybe even for the world to watch, just like they are watching our great economy, how it is soaring. they could watch this. we have the worst immigration laws in the entire world. such sad -- actually, in many cases, such horrible --
we have seen about child separation, you see what is going on there. remember, a country without borders is not a country at all. we need borders, we need security, we need safety. we need to take care of our people. you take a look at the death and destruction that is being caused by people coming into this country without going through a process. we want a married-based merit-based-- a immigration system so that boeing, lockheed, all of the people that are here today, the heads of all of the companies, so you can hire people on a merit-based, so you know they are people who came in on merit, not based on a lottery or not people that snuck across the border, and they can be murderers and thieves and so much else, so we want a safe
country, and it starts with the borders. and that is the way it is. now, i would like to -- [applause] pres. trump: thank you. thank you. again, we can do this very quickly if the democrats come to the table. everybody wants to do it. we want to do it more than they do. if they come to the table and quit playing politics, we can do it very quickly. >> homeland security secretary kristin nelson -- kirsten tjen nielsen took questions from white house reporters. >> secretary nielsen, if you notd, talking about dhhs upholding the laws, you are talking about changing them. many are saying you are using children as a leverage to try to
us get into take legislative action. ned: it is -- sec. nielsen: is clearly within their power to make the laws and change the laws. they should do so. yes. >> have you seen the photos of children in cages? at a heard clips of these children wailing? i have not seen anything that came out today, but i have been to detention centers, and i direct you to the standards, the care provided not just by the department of homeland security but by the health and human services when i get to dhhs. >> is that the image you want out -- sec. nielsen: the image is one of this country is an image that's appears our borders and upholds our ideals. congress needs to fix it. >> i want to give you a chance to respond to laura bush's pop that. -- op-ed. the current first lady, melania
trump, has says "we should be a nation of laws, but we should do so with heart." do you have anything you want to tell them? is there a misunderstanding, or do you believe any component of this problem, you are using in a way that is more intense and creates the separation? wouldielsen: my response be is calling attention to this matter is important. this is a very serious issue that has resulted, after years and years of congress not taking action. i would thank them both for their comments, for their concern. i share their concern, but congress is the one that needs to fix this. >> the policy is not, by your definition, in any way cruel. sec. nielsen: it is not a policy. continue whatto we are going to do, which is to enforce the law. lady laura bush
compared this to japanese interment, during world war ii, one of the darkest days of the nation's history. do you think separating children from families is moral, is ethical, is american? sec. nielsen: what i believe is we should exercise our democratic rights as americans to fix the problem. it is a problem. let's fix it. >> how is this not child abuse? sec. nielsen: be more specific, please. >> was cecilia was talking about, the images we have seen of thesebox stores, theaters, how is this not specifically child abuse for these innocent children who are being separated from their parents? sec. nielsen: let me be clear on a couple of other things. majoritymajority, vast of children who are in the care of hhs right now, 10,000 of the 12,000 were sent here alone by their parents. that is when they were
separated. so somehow we have completed everything. there are two separate issues. 10,000 of those currently in custody were sent by their parents with strangers to undertake a completely dangerous we now care for them. we have high standards. we give them meals and education. we give them medical care. videos, there are tv. i had visited the detention centers myself. announcer: coming up tonight, justice department inspector general michael horowitz on the investigation. than president trump makes remarks at the situation on the u.s. southern border of children being taken into custody separated from their parents. after that, homeland security secretary christian nielsen -- kristen talks about the situation on the border. the justice department inspector