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ALLIGATOR-INSURRECTION-DAY

alligator

Insurrection Day
wednesday
october 6, 1971
vol 64 no 12

the list

University president Stephen C. O’Connell considered Alligator editor Ron Sachs a criminal for inserting “The List” (of abortion clinics and women’s pregnancy and healthcare providers) into the October 6, 1971 issue of The Florida Alligator. At the time, the dissemination of any information regarding abortion was a violation of Florida State Law, and in O’Connell’s mind, and in the eyes of The Lord, Sachs and The Alligator staff were sinners, who needed to be punished.

Insurrection Day
wednesday
october 6, 1971
vol. 64 no. 12

alligator

Anti-Vietnam demonstrations, political assassinations, riots in the streets, Earthrise, Woodstock, and “Whitey On The Moon.” The entire World was raging, but on this one day in Gainesville (October 6, 1971), the fight was The Florida Alligator‘s, for its right to speak for a woman’s “right to choose.” Choose how to care for her personal health, even if that meant choosing to terminate a pregnancy.

“I Fought The Law”
1977The Clash

“Rock The Casbah” and Oil Concerns. 
The Clash 
((( political punk )))

alligator file

Alligator editor Ron Sachs and Uf president Stephen C. O’Connell (background) at a press conference during the trial (The Alligator and Sachs v. O’Connell and The University of Florida) charging the Alligator’s publishing a list of abortion providers was a crime.

The Alligator fought the law 
and the First Amendment won.

On October 6, 1971, with a “gonzo” inspired, journalistic zeal, the Florida Alligator staff rose before dawn, and took their assigned positions, next to the Alligator newspaper boxes across the University of Florida campus. When the delivery truck dropped its bundles that morning, the Alligator commandos inserted a copy of “The List” into each paper before placing them in the box.

It was the first shot in an Alligator vs. University of Florida “military action,” that had Alligator editor Ron Sachs arrested, charged, and prosecuted for violating a Florida anti-abortion statute that prohibited the dissemination of any information related to the sin of abortion.

In the end,  The Alligator won the battle, and after the Christian Values vs Free Speech dust settled, The Alligator severed its ties to the university, and proceeded with all purpose to be an honest, independent journalistic voice for Gainesville and the University of Florida.

READ ALL ABOUT IT: (THE INCREDIBLE PULP)

thursday
february 1, 1973
vol 65 no 75

Finally a Free Press
Taking its new found Independence seriously, the now Independent Alligator stepped into its Constitutional (fourth branch of government) role with purpose. It became an appropriate and necessary critic of the University of Florida administration. Scrutinizing how (and for what purpose) the administration and Student Government (Blue Key) was spending our tuitions and tax money. The Alligator was, for the first time, honestly “Independent,” and set out to prove it everyday.

Stephen C. O’Connell 
Florida Supreme Court Justice, pro-life Democratic, and middleweight boxing champion … (THE LAW)

The Alligator took immediate advantage of its newfound freedom, and to close out its first week of independence, illustrator ____ Hännafin spoke for a unified Alligator staff, as to how it felt about the “good” Christian man who tried to silence the paper, and have its editor sent to jail.

—30—

florida history
1912-2022

Vol.1 No.1
[1912]

The Incredible Pulp
How The Alligator won its Independence
September 9, 1979

Insurrection Day
A Matter of Abortion 
October 6, 1971

Independence Day
Out to set Gainesville and The University of Florida on Journalistic fire.
February 1, 1973

 

Independence Day
wednesday
february 1, 1973
vol. 64 no. 12 (HERE)

 

FEBRUARY 1, 1973

As I understand it, a democracy, whatever that is, saved us from something called Communism, whatever that is.”

Don Wright (The Florida Alligator)

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

alligator

“Shut The Fuck Up”
Cake
Fashion Nugget
((( editorial )))

 

“All Right Now”
Free
Fire and Water 
((( 1970 )))

 

“American Pie”
Don McLean 
American Pie
((( 1971 )))

 

“Smoking In The Boys Room”
Brownsville Station 
Yeah!
((( 1973 )))

 

“Freedom of Speech”
Above The Law
Pump Up The Volume
((( 1990 )))

 

“Freedom”
Karl Denison’s Tiny Universe
The Bridge
((( 2002 )))

 

“Freedom”
Melle Mel & The Furious 5
Original Sugar Hill Rhythm Section
((( 1980 )))

n

tuesday
september 24, 1912
vol. 1 no. 1

How The Alligator won the fight for its independence, and after, hit the ground running.

By David Klein
Alligator Staff Writer (1975)
For The Floridian (St. Pete Times Sunday Magazine)

Are you sure you want to do this? asked those who Ron Sachs had asked for advice and council. Sachs’ “YES” was immediate. And to settle his nerves, added light-heartedly, “I’ve done worse things than hand out newspapers.

So on the morning of October 6, 1971, twenty young Alligator student journalists, on foot and bicycle, swept across the grassy University of Florida campus as dawn broke to distribute news that the authorities said should not be published.

“Everybody has to realize that we can be convicted for felony,” Sachs told his student staff the night before.

Earlier, Sachs had asked his staff to stuff the regular morning papers with a mimeographed list of abortion referral agencies — after the paper was already distributed on campus.

The Alligator’s printer refused to publish the list of agencies, iting a 103-year- old state law prohibiting any publication or adverisement of any type of abortion information. The University of Florida administration already had ordered Sachs not to print the material. The editor decided to leave the decision to his staff.

The vote was unanimous.

It was the crucial event in the Alligator’s 65-year history.

After the fallout cleared, Sachs had been arrested, the old abortion law had been overturned in court, and the Alligator itself had been booted off the University of Florida campus, its home since just after the turn of the (20th) century.

The Alligator would never be the same again.

In the past, it had provided a stable breeding ground for some of the most successful newspapermen (and a few politicians, too) to come out of the southeast. Executive and/or managing editors at the Miami Herald, Washington Post, Detroit Free Press, Atlanta Constitution, St. Pete Times, Orlando Sentinel, Palm Beach Post, Tallahassee Democrat, Gainesville Sun, and Miami Herald — among others — are all alumni of the old Florida Alligator.

But for six years after printing the abortion agency list, the student paper struggled simply to survive in a decrepit off-campus location with dwindling advertising revenues.

The Alligator left the comparatively plush offices of the student union (Reitz Union) for a converted short-order kitchen in the back rooms of the College Inn restaurant and pinball emporium on Gainesville’s University Avenue. The business and circulation offices set up shop in converted, walk-in deep freezers once used to store meat and produce. The newsroom claimed the fancy spot — the kitchen — beneath a crumbling network of broken masonry, naked wires and shiny foil-covered ventilator pipes. Every time it rained, the carpet was flooded and delicate computer equipment was soaked. Reporters learned to negotiate the obstacle course of huge trash barrels set up around the newsroom to catch the run-off after every storm.

But if anything, the paper responded to adversity by becoming more aggressive.

I sued the university to open confidential records and conferences after its reporters were hauled out of closed administration meetings and arrested or reprimanded. It sent reporters to cover hurricanes, drug shootings, riots and budgetary scandals.

Finally it prospered. Today, The Independent Florida Alligator  is the fifth largest college paper in the country, with a press run of 29,000 copies, five days a week. It’s the fourth largest college paper in terms of advertising revenue. It’s parent company, the non-profit Campus Communications Inc., is a $650,000 a year business. It employs 120 people, including a full-time business manager, production manager, and two accountants, but it has NO faculty supervisors or professional editors.

Almost immediately, the Alligator flexed its new-found “independent” muscle, and built a reputation for breaking stories of fiscal mismanagement in college administration and internal university scandals, the white-collar ones of the ’70s, such as:

g The 1975 UF Business College cheating scandal, in which the Alligator sued the university to open confidential Honor Court hearings. The Florida Supreme Court eventually ruled against the paper.

g UF’s illegal over-enrollment of 600 freshman in 1974, which led a member of the Board of Regents to threaten to fire university administrators.

g UF President Robert Marston’s confidential letters in 1977 to state university system Chancellor E.T. York, insisting the university was being short-changed, causing serious cutbacks in services.

g The recent Alpha Phi Omega  fraternity hazing scandal, subsequently picked up by several major state newspapers and magazines.

And if that weren’t enough, the independent paper drew continued criticism from Marston and his staff for carrying on a running feud over the interpretation of the Florida-Government-in-the-Sunshine Law.

Last year (1977) the Alligator made national news when several student reporters, on different occasions, refused to leave closed meeting in Tigert Hall, the administration building. One was my brother Barry Klein, who received the stiffest penalty. University police were called in to escort him away and place him under arrest, though the charges were dropped the next day.

“I was ordered by Tom Julin (then editor) to pick my spot and take a stand,” Barry explained. “It was just a matter of sneaking around until I found the right meeting. Then I just kind of knocked, and they let me in.”

Barry was already well known to university administrators for a previous story he had written in which he deliberately lied about his identity to prove security was so lax he could fraudulently obtain another student’s private records.

Barry, in the spirit of an honestly “independent” newspaper had pissed the administration off.

“I’ve got a nasty records file myself,” Klein said. “For a while it seemed I got an official reprimand after every story. But it was a kick. I was sitting on the front page every day.”

That was the motivation, of course. Maybe the president of the biggest university in Florida is criticizing you in public … “But at least he’ll take your calls,” Barry said.

 “I remember when I walked in the first day,” recalled Dennis Kneale, 1978 Alligator editor-in-chief, who later interned at the Washington Post. (Forbes Magazine editor).

“All these phones were ringing, there was the clackety-clack of typewriters, all these people screaming at each other across this crumbling room — I was overwhelmed. It gave me a real sense of the 1960s counterculture; all these grubby, hardworking, longhaired kids putting out this really aggressive paper.”

It’s like BINGO! Suddenly you a newspaper kid. And if you don’t know what to do, fake it.

 

 

FLOWER POWER

“Abraham Martin and John”
Marvin Gaye
That’s the Way Love Is
1970Bitches Brew

((( fighting words )))

 

Flower Power is a photograph taken by American photographer Bernie Boston for the now-defunct The Washington Star newspaper. Taken on October 21, 1967, during the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam’s “March on The Pentagon”, the photo shows a Vietnam War protester placing a carnation into the barrel of a rifle held by a soldier of the 503rd Military Police Battalion. It was nominated for the 1967 Pulitzer Prize.

 

 

A Florida Journalist, Photographer, and Art Director with an eclectic client list of individuals and organizations with musical, visual, educational, and editorial interests.

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