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FEATURE Unitarians and Other Radicals A Chapter in Texas History BY DAVID RICHARDS ‘,0 Iremember a touching moment in the seventies, when I spoke in Austin along with other activists at an “Impeach Nixon” rally on the state capitol grounds. I don’t remember why I was on the program, but it was a goodly crowd, heavily sprinkled with conspicuous undercover types. After the rally, I was leaving the capitol with my daughter Ellen, who was eight or nine at the time. We were holding hands on a lovely spring afternoon when suddenly a fat Austin cop jumped out of his “unit” and began to take our picture. Ellen had the wonderful child’s response that our pictures were being taken as minor celebrities. I didn’t bother to explain that she was probably making her initial entry into the Austin P.D. intelligence files. One of the intelligence practices was to accumulate copies of all the underground publications across the country. A group had as its sole duty to read, clip, and file items from the underground press. Much of the writing was utter gibberish, fueled, .v 4.1r I suspect, by hallucinogens. It was great solace to think of those hardy souls dutifully poring through the week’s accumulation of new-left writings.William Cowper Brann, the great polemicist who published The Iconoclast in Waco around the turn of the century, once likened the reading of the Dallas Morning News editorial page to the labors of Hercules. Reading the underground press seems to fall in the same category. In 1974 there was a young Continental Airlines pilot in Dallas by the name of Bob Pomeroy. He came to the attention ions as a vocal opponent of nuclear power. The ensuing Pomeroy lawsuit provided one of those rare instances in which we obtained the full text of an internal DPS “intelligence” report. Normally, officialdom simply denied such reports exist ed and left the lawyer helpless to prove otherwise. In simplest terms, no court is going to order production of documents that don’t exist, and there was little candor among law enforcement types about the extent of their surveillance activities. Even if you were lucky enough to get a court order to produce any records concerning your client, the report would be so heavily edited as to be virtually incom prehensible. In Pomeroy’s case, the DPS “intelli gence” agent thought his report so significant that he furnished it to Pomeroy’s employer. To Continental Airlines’ credit, they provided Pomeroy the report, and there was the full-blown proof of the snooping. The report in its own language is much more damning than any thing I could ever write. For those loperose Illustrations by Penny Vin Horn not previously exposed to law enforcement idiom, it should be a revelation: 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3/1/02