FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Another One Moves On: Roz Payne, Presente!

The first time I met Roz Payne she was gathering signatures to get on the ballot to be a constable in the Vermont town of Richmond where she lived. Although I have never liked cops and the legal system they represent, her reasons convinced me to sign her petition. As we stood conversing on Church Street in Burlington, I realized that her campaign leaned much more towards Hunter s Thompson’s Freak Power campaign for sheriff in Aspen, Colorado than anything conventional. The campaign wasn’t anything that bold, but I signed anyhow. Soon, the conversation turned to Roz’s role in keeping the US government from stealing the free land known as Earth People’s Park up near Vermont’s border with Canada.

For those unfamiliar with Earth People’s Park, let me give you some history. Back in 1970, the traveling community known as the Hog Farm had made a little money from their various endeavors, primary among them being their participation as emcees, security, free clinic and all-around good guys at rock festivals. Together with other freaks and friends, they came up with the idea of buying some land that nobody would own, but anybody who wanted to live communally and peacefully could do so. Money was raised through concerts and donations; land was found and a down payment made. As it turned out, in the USA, nobody cannot own land. The authorities need someone on the title. Ultimately, Wavy Gravy was one of those someones.

Now, for those who don’t know how freaking cold it can get in Vermont, think of your body in a bathtub of ice and subtract fifty degrees Fahrenheit. This is why there were often people living in Earth People’s Park in summer and fall, but never in winter. (When I lived in Berkeley, I often met folks who summered in Earth People’s Park and wintered in the Bay Area.) After all, life was quite rustic in the woods—running water was a creek and toilets were pits one dug. Locals were nervous at first but adjusted. The feds never did. After a biker gang took over the land and began manufacturing meth, the DEA and other cop types raided. Then they took the land. That’s when legal people stepped in. Thanks to the efforts of many folks, with Roz running point and Wavy pulling strings, an agreement was reached so that the land will never be developed.

That’s just one story from Roz’s life. She was a member of Students for a Democratic Society and a co-founder of the Newsreel Collective—a group which filmed movement protests, actions and other endeavors, then edited the film into twenty or thirty-minute newsreels distributed throughout the US and even overseas. Indeed, I saw a few such films at coffeehouses or university events in Frankfurt, Germany in the early 1970s. As I got to know her over the years, I never tired of our conversations. It was while I was going through her boxes of underground papers, photographs and leaflets that were her archives that she told me of her friendship with Weather Underground leaders and Yippies. I was already looking for photos I would use in my book on the Weather Underground and now I was working with someone whose knowledge could flesh out some context I was lacking. She knew and worked with many organizers, rabble-rousers and working-class heroes over the years. Pictures of many of them hung on her walls or were scattered throughout boxes of stuff. I think her favorite picture was of her mother being arrested for her labor organizing activities in the 1930s.

Roz and I stayed in touch over the years, sometimes helping each other with various projects. I would her email her about various speakers and protests in the area and she used her connections to provide friends with contacts for articles and books they were writing. She helped expose government crimes against the Black Panthers; her work even helped at least one get out of prison. Her archives provided materials for exhibits and films. Bob Niemi, a friend who teaches and writes about film noted her contribution to the documentary film through her work with Newsreel and afterwards. One of the last times we spent more than a couple minutes talking, we were involved in challenging an attempt by the city of Burlington, VT to limit non-shoppers from hanging out in its main shopping district.

Roz passed on this past week. Her stories and spirit fill the memories of those whose lives intertwined with hers.

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 19, 2019
Matthew Stevenson
Requiem for a Lightweight: the Mayor Pete Factor
Kenneth Surin
In China Again
Stephen Cooper
Abolishing the Death Penalty Requires Morality
George Ochenski
The DNC Can’t Be Allowed to Ignore the Climate Crisis
John W. Whitehead
The Omnipresent Surveillance State
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
Guaidó’s Star Fades as His Envoys to Colombia Allegedly Commit Fraud With Humanitarian Funds for Venezuela
Dave Lindorff
What About Venezuela’s Hacked Power Grid?
Howard Lisnoff
Try Not to Look Away
Binoy Kampmark
Matters of Water: Dubious Approvals and the Adani Carmichael Mine
Karl Grossman
The Battle to Stop the Shoreham Nuclear Plant, Revisited
Kani Xulam
Farting in a Turkish Mosque
Dean Baker
New Manufacturing Jobs are Not Union Jobs
Elizabeth Keyes
“I Can’t Believe Alcohol Is Stronger Than Love”
June 18, 2019
John McMurtry
Koch-Oil Big Lies and Ecocide Writ Large in Canada
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Evidence About Iran is “Dodgy” at Best
Yoav Litvin
Catch 2020 – Trump’s Authoritarian Endgame
Thomas Knapp
Opposition Research: It’s Not Trump’s Fault That Politics is a “Dirty” Game
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
U.S. Sanctions: Economic Sabotage that is Deadly, Illegal and Ineffective
Gary Leupp
Marx and Walking Zen
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Color Revolution In Hong Kong: USA Vs. China
Howard Lisnoff
The False Prophets Cometh
Michael T. Klare
Bolton Wants to Fight Iran, But the Pentagon Has Its Sights on China
Steve Early
The Global Movement Against Gentrification
Dean Baker
The Wall Street Journal Doesn’t Like Rent Control
Tom Engelhardt
If Trump’s the Symptom, Then What’s the Disease?
June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
Louisa Willcox
Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery
Stephen Cooper
“Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)
Daniel Warner
Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle
Brian Cloughley
Trump Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail