Forty years later, the fallout remains from a notorious case.
Forty years later, the four SDS members look back on the experience with a mixture of resignation and disillusionment. They agree that, while the SDS might have won the court battle, the authorities won the war. “You know, you see a guy on the front page of the newspaper in handcuffs accused of planning to bomb the Liberty Bell and it mortally wounds your cause,” says Fraser. “That’s the whole point of these kind of frame-ups, is to do political damage. Whether we went to jail or not was ultimately beside the point. They accomplished what they set out to do.”
Fraser went on to become a respected author and academic. He is currently a visiting professor at Columbia University in New York City, where he resides. Last year he was a senior lecturer at Penn, where he occupied an office in the same building he helped take over four decades earlier.
Milkman went on to become a high-school English teacher in New York City, where he also currently resides.
Friedman remained in the area and went on to marry David Rudovsky (they divorced in 1991) and is associate director of A Better Start—a preventive-health-care program which teaches nutrition to low-income residents for Albert Einstein HealthCare Network.
Richard Borghmann abandoned politics and went off the grid, working as a rancher in Colorado. Last year Borghmann voted for the first time since his arrest, casting his vote for Obama on behalf of his sister, a big-time Obama supporter who died shortly before the election.
Bernard Segal currently teaches law at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. David Rudovsky went on to become a highly respected civil-rights lawyer and was recently awarded the ACLU’s Keystone of Civil Liberties Award.
Lieutenant Fencl was eventually promoted to inspector and led the first raid on MOVE. The much-coveted Fencl Award—“bestowed on a police officer who brings a unique blend of courage, integrity and determination to the job,” according to the Daily News , which co-sponsors the award—was named in his honor after his death 24 years ago.
Fraser rolls his eyes when told of the Fencl Award. “He was a guy of bottomless unscrupulousness, and constantly involved in the harassment and intimidation of groups fighting for social justice,” says Fraser. “I think Fencl was very cynical about all this. Although he was not the smartest guy in the world, I am sure he knew, because everybody knew ... that the SDS Labor Committee was avowedly anti-violent and in some corners of the SDS we were criticized, severely, for condemning Weatherman-like behavior, because it was destined to isolate the organization, it was immoral and it was politically suicidal. We said all these things publicly and he knew that.” ■
PW's Summer Guide 2015