Presidio 27: "Mutiny" at the Stockade

On October 14, 1968, some 27 prisoners in the Presidio Stockade broke ranks during roll call formation, sat down in a circle in the grassy yard, joined arms, and asked to present a list of demands to the stockade commander that addressed the treatment of fellow prisoners and the conditions inside.

What they did that day, and their subsequent trials for mutiny, made headlines, shocked the Army and the nation, and brought the GI movement onto the national stage. Discover how it happened.

1. Introduction

Today’s tour is tied to a story of military service: in this context, we will travel back in time to the Presidio of San Francisco in 1968, during the Vietnam War. What happened here, during three eventful days in October, became a defining moment in…

2. Go “inside”

Suggestion: Walk up the front steps of the stockade. Skip the text? Jump to ↘media Right now, the GIs being held inside are (with some exceptions) not anti-war activists, nor are they particularly political. For most, their military offense is…

3. Order and Command in the 6th Army

Suggestion: If you are in front of the stockade (the side with the steps), walk around the left side of the building and to the rear corner (the side facing the road). Look slightly rightward, and you will see the intersection for the road that…

4. GI and Vets March for Peace – Oct. 12

Suggestion: Stay on the left (north) side of the stockade for this stop, but walk a little ways back towards the front of the building. Skip the text? Jump to ↘media Yet the strong support network who had encouraged Keith’s protest — of family,…

5. Disobeying orders. Mutiny?

Suggestion: From the front entrance of the stockade, walk over to the grassy area off to the right-hand side. You might even choose to sit down in the grass. Then, click the Play button below for this audio stop of the tour. We invite you to close…

6. Other prisoners did not participate

Suggestion: Walk up closer to the large image of the Military Police looming over the demonstration. Skip the text? Jump to ↘media The Presidio 27 drew inspiration from the Civil Rights Movement they’d seen on TV — they sang We Shall Overcome,…

7. Facing the Consequences

Suggestion: If you are still on the south side of the building (near the sitdown), back up far enough that you can see the upper-floor windows on this side. Cell block 3 is behind these windows. Skip the text? Jump to ↘media After the sitdown…

8. Ripples out of the Presidio

Suggestion: Walk over to the picnic tables, just north of the stockade, where there is a red mailbox, one that would have been here on the post in 1960s. Some of the Presidio 27 and their allies, friends, and family members are here today at the…