In the fall of 1969, amid what looked like a steady nationwide increase in violent confrontations between anti-war protesters and police, the Hogg Foundation funded a collaboration among Robert Miles, the chief of the Austin Police Department; Philip Mann, a mental health consultant in Austin; and Ira Iscoe, a University of Texas at Austin psychology professor who was an ally of the Hogg Foundation and director of the Counseling-Psychological Services Center on campus.
The goal of the project was to anticipate, as much as possible, the confrontations that were likely to occur in the near future, and to give police the tools in "human behavior and crisis management" to prevent these tense situations from descending into violence and chaos. The hope was also that the collaboration would prove to be a vehicle for improved relations with the community and perhaps even with that segment of the student community that was most likely to demonstrate.
Mann and his students rode with police patrols, conducted community relations training programs, assisted in the selection of new candidates for Police Cadet School, gave training in techniques of interviewing, and, together with the Austin Mental Health Association, organized police workshops.
On campus, things seemed to be moving toward precisely the kind of large-scale confrontation the project was intended to prepare the police and the community to handle. In the spring of 1969, six months before the program was initiated, the national convention of Students for Democratic Society was held near the campus after university administrators had refused the use of campus facilities for the meeting. That fall, students demonstrated in an effort to prevent the removal of trees along Waller Creek that was scheduled to make way for an expansion project for the University of Texas football stadium. This was followed by a confrontation between police and students in the Student Union over the right of nonstudents to use these facilities. In the background were efforts by the Student Mobilization Committee (SMC) to obtain a parade permit to march in protest to the war in Vietnam, which the City Council of Austin repeatedly rejected.
Events finally came to a head during the first week of May 1970 after the shootings at Kent State University in Ohio. After days of organizing, protesting, confusion and heated legal negotiations, authorities submitted to the inevitable and allowed the march. Ultimately some 20,000 people occupied the blocks between campus and the Capitol in what was thought to be the largest mass gathering Austin had ever seen.
Reflections on a Peaceful Demonstration is a participant-observer account by Mann and Iscoe, not just of the march itself, but of the preparations, negotiations, and struggles that took place during that week on and around the UT Austin campus, as well as of the role played by participants in the Hogg-funded project.
The goal of the report, according to Mann and Ira Iscoe, was "to assemble and integrate the unfolding of activities surrounding a potentially explosive situation which in the end became a peaceful and, we believe, constructive event. In doing so, we hope to point out some elements that probably are common to such situations elsewhere and to develop a perspective on how such events might be handled constructively."
For more information read the full report.