Northwest Arkansas Times from Fayetteville, Arkansas on August 21, 1974 · Page 25
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August 21, 1974

Northwest Arkansas Times from Fayetteville, Arkansas · Page 25

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Fayetteville, Arkansas
Issue Date:
Wednesday, August 21, 1974
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Page 25
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Northwest Arkansas TIMES -Wednesday, August 21, 1974 FAVrTTEVILLt, ARKANSAS Gainesville Eight: One Year Later GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -A year after they, were ac quilted, defendants in the Gain esville Eight conspiracy case say they're still trying to recov «r from the trial's effects. "I still don't trust a whole lot of people," said Scott Camil, a defendant whose best friend turned out to he a government informer. Camil's feelings seem to mirror those of the other defendants. Seven members of the Viet- Dam Veterans Against the War and a sympathizer were found innocent last Aug. 31 of plotting violence d u r i n g the 1972 Republican National Convention. Tlie trial lasted nearly five weeks but the jury took less than four hours to decide their innocence. The eight were Camil, Stanley Michelson, Alton Foss and John Briggs, all of Gainesville; Don Perdue, of Hollywood, Fla.; Peter Mahoney of New York; Bill Patterson of El Paso, Tex., and John'Kniffin of Austin, Tex. In May, the eight filed a $1.2 million suit against government prosecutors charging they deprived the defendants of their constitutional rights by using paid FBI informers. The government's case was based primarily on informers and paid agents who infiltrated the VVAW. One of the informers was Emerson Poe, a close friend of Camil. "I keep much more to myself than I did before the trial. It's a bummer because I like people," Camil, 28, said. WRITING BOOK Camil left Gainesville briefly after the trial, shaved off his curly black beard and then slipped quietly back into this North Florida university community to write a book and help produce a movie about his experiences. After the trial, the defendants scattered across the country. "We're trying to get together a reunion of the Gainesville Eight trial," Camil said. "We're trying to get it set for the end of August in Gainesville." Kniffin, 32, is working as a mechanic in Brenham, Tex., and taking night courses at the University of Texas in Austin, working toward a degree in sociology. "The trial created financial hardships that will be hard to overcome," Kniffin, who is married, said. Defense attorneys donated their time, but after the trial Kniffin estimated the defendants still owed some ?40,000 for transcripts, legal costs and travel expenses for themselves and witnesses. Kniffin is still active in veterans' affairs and participated in the veterans 1 demonstration in Washington, B.C., on July 4. Briggs, 22, is working as a recording engineer in G a i n- esville and manages a rock band. "I've had just hard times getting things together. I feel really afraid to open up to new people who come into my lite. I just don't talk much," Briggs said. Michelson, 25, is back in Gainesville after working on a Puerto Rican farm. He is active in the American Veterans Movement. lie was among a group that recently took over an elevator in the Washington monument. "I went to Puerto Rico so I could be Stanley. I had to be Just Stanley, just myself. A lot of people introduce you 'This is Stan Michelson. He's one of the Gainesville Eight/ " Michelson said. Patterson, 26, who represented himself at the trial, is attending the University of Texas branch in El Paso, "frying to recover," and trying to get his head and his finances together. "I think I had probably the highest level of blind hostility I've ever had in my life" when the trial ended, Patterson said. That hostility, aimed at police and law enforcement agencies, caused him to be harassed by the police and arrested. He was taken before a judge for failure to identify himself to an officer and was arrested another time for having a weapon, which turned out to be legal, he said. Patterson said he's still suspicious of people. Foss, 27, still faces legal trouble. He is accused of selling five pounds of marijuana to an undercover narcotics agent. His triai was postponed in July because he was committed to a Veterans' Administration Hospital mental ward strapped to a stretcher after a weekend of using cocaine and barbiturates in nervous anticipation of the trial. Perdue, 25, is working as a diving instructor in Hollywood, Fla., and plans to return to school part-time in the fall to finish up a degree is oceanography. "I think a lot of people are seeing it our way now." Perdue said, adding that people are believing the defense claims that their prosecution was tied to Watergate. Mahoney, 26, has been attending Hunter College, work- Ing part-time in an off-track betting shop and participating In an occasional demonstration. He said that following the trial he had trouble for a long time trusting new people and was treated by a psychiatrist. Perdue and his wife planned to spend a month this summer In Europe. 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