Steve Hamilton, an FSM veteran/arrestee and anti-war activist/one of Oakland 7 died of heart failure on Feb. 1, age 64. Information about his memorial service and contributions in Steve’s memory (to The Steve Hamilton Activist Fund for scholarships to send young activists to Wellstone Action) is below, followed by a good obituary from the Chronicle.
-the FSM Archives Board
Celebrate the life
our dear friend and comrade
Saturday, May 16, 2009
2 – 4:30 p.m.
Finnish Brotherhood Hall
1970 Chestnut Street
At University Avenue
Steve Hamilton died on February 1, 2009, age 64. Steve was a radical political activist who remained committed to core progressive ideals for his entire life. Born into a working class family, Steve initially considered becoming a Christian minister, but soon got caught up in the political ferment that was Berkeley in the 1960s. He joined SLATE, the Free Speech Movement (FSM) the Progressive Labor Party (PLP) and the Revolutionary Union (RU). In 1966 he was dismissed from the University of California for protesting the University’s attempt to take away the gains and protections of the Free Speech Movement. In 1968 he was indicted as one of the Oakland 7 for blocking access to the Oakland Induction Center. By the mid 70’s Steve was a member of BASOC (Bay Area Socialists of California).
In the early 1980s, after a time of personal struggle, Steve rejected the homophobic attitudes of many movement comrades and came out. He became highly regarded in the Bay Area gay community as an HIV/AIDS activist, counselor and therapist. His last job was with MHN, a mental and behavior health network, where he focused on occupational stress issues. In his final year, suffering from congestive heart failure, Steve moved to Louisville KY with his friends Tank and Roman, where he died in his sleep. He leaves behind a sister, Shirley Metcalf and hundreds of close friends and comrades who will always remember his warmth, affection, gentleness, compassion and amazing capacity to talk your ear off.
Contributions in Steve’s memory can be made to The Steve Hamilton Activist Fund for scholarships to send young activists to Wellstone Action! You can go online to www.yippiegirl.com, click on Steve Hamilton, then click the donate button. Or send your check to Steve Hamilton Activist Fund, c/o US Bank, Kaiser Center, 344 20th Street # 117, Oakland CA 94612.
San Francisco Chronicle
Monday, March 30, 2009
Anti-war activist Steve Hamilton dies
Seth Rosenfeld, Chronicle Staff Writer
A memorial service is planned for May 16 for Steve Hamilton, a prominent Bay Area anti-war activist and member of the Oakland 7 who was acquitted in a notorious conspiracy trial.
Mr. Hamilton, 64, died Feb. 1 after a heart attack.
He was part of a group of anti-war activists known as the Oakland 7, which was charged with conspiracy for organizing huge demonstrations at the Oakland Army Induction Center in 1967 as part of nationwide protest called Stop the Draft Week.
It was one of a series of protests, arrests and court cases during the turbulent '60s involving the soft-spoken and passionate activist who came from a conservative working class family and once planned to become a minister.
Steven Charles Hamilton was born in 1944 in Watts (Los Angeles County). His father worked on an assembly line at the General Motors plant, contracted lead poisoning, and spent years in Camarillo State Mental Hospital in Ventura County, undergoing shock treatment. His mother supported the family by working in a tire factory.
Mr. Hamilton was graduated from South Gate High School and won an American Baptist Church scholarship to Wheaton College, an evangelical school in Illinois.
In 1963, the crew-cut sophomore transferred to UC Berkeley as a divinity student. Some time later, his family saw televised reports of protests there showing a "rather scruffy-looking guy with long hair," recalled his sister, Shirley Metcalf.
His family was sure he never would participate in such activities, she said, and was shocked when on school break "in walked the scruffy-looking man."
In the fall of 1964, Mr. Hamilton was arrested during the Free Speech Movement, the first big student protest of the '60s. In 1965, he joined the anti-war Vietnam Day Committee and the Maoist Progressive Labor Party.
He was dismissed from Cal in 1966 for manning an unauthorized literature table on campus.
That August, he and social activist Jerry Rubin were subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee. His remarks got him ejected from the witness stand.
In January 1967, Mr. Hamilton and four other prominent nonstudent activists - Rubin, Mike Smith, Stew Albert and Mario Savio - were convicted of trespass in a protest of Navy recruiting on the Cal campus. He also was convicted of contempt of court for holding a press conference on the case.
Despite resulting jail sentences, he was undeterred. He held that "if you believe in something, it's worth fighting for," his friend Smith said.
In October 1967, Mr. Hamilton helped organize Stop the Draft Week and sent a telegram to then-Gov. Ronald Reagan. "Debate has accomplished nothing; the war must be stopped," he wrote. "We plan to shut down the Oakland Induction Center."
Hundreds of protesters were arrested outside the center amid violence by both police and demonstrators. The Alameda County district attorney's office charged the seven with conspiring to induce others to commit the misdemeanors of trespass and interfering with police. It was said to be the first use of the state's conspiracy law against protesters. An 11-week trial ended in acquittals.
Mr. Hamilton later helped found the Marxist Revolutionary Union and organized at work in Richmond's Bethlehem Steel factory.
He became a therapist trying to better the mental health system in which his father had suffered, Metcalf said.
Married briefly, he was privately gay, coming out only in 1980, said his friends. "It was as hard to be a gay communist as it was to be a gay capitalist," said Reese Erlich, an author and co-defendant in the conspiracy case.
Mr. Hamilton moved to Kentucky in August and was planning to return to the Bay Area when he died on Feb. 1. He is survived by his sister, Shirley Metcalf, and his close friend Roman Esser.
A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. on May 16 at Finnish Brotherhood Hall, 1970 Chestnut St., Berkeley.
E-mail Seth Rosenfeld at firstname.lastname@example.org.