Schaffer Online Library of Drug Policy

Sign the Resolution
Contents | Feedback | Search
DRCNet Home
| Join DRCNet
DRCNet Library | Schaffer Library

Historical References

General Histories | Ancient History | 1800-1850 | 1860 | 1870 | 1880 | 1890
1900 | 1910 | 1920 | 1930 | 1940 | 1950 | 1960 | 1970 | 1980 | 1990

The New York Times January 31, 1960
Community Tension Rising in San Francisco--- Cleric Defends Generation

Special to The New York Times.

Community tensions were reported rising this week in North Beach, often labeled the national capital of the Beat Generation.

The fuzz, unsympathetic squares who patrol the area in police uniforms, were blamed by some poets, musicians and artists, and their supporters. The fuzz in rebuttal, pointed to thirty arrests, followed by six indictments, in a drive aimed at marijuana peddlers and buyers.

The police raids caused undercover agents and local newspapers to dig North Beach as a place where a majority of beats were on the weed, and where scantily furnished pads were scenes of frequent orgies.

Sharp exception to this viewpoint was taken by a man who, next May, will have spent two years among the beats in running a mission for the Congregational Christian Church.

The Rev. Pierre Delattre has prepared a report for the church's board of home missions detailing the work and problems of the Bread an Wine Mission.

The 29-year-old clergyman, educated at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago Divinity School, discussed the report in the kitchen of his third-floor apartment above the mission, as he prepared for his usual 9 A.M. To 2 A.M. Day.

The mission is on the corner of Grant Avenue and Greenwich Street, where Grant climbs sharply up Telegraph Hill after leaving Chinatown and much of the North Beach section. Store fronts carry such names as Rossi, Gallo, Molinari and Figoni. Left behind by the ascending thoroughfare are art galleries, curio shops, espresso bars, small businesses of all kinds.

Mr. DeLattre deplored the infestation of North Beach by week-end tourists 'who come in to see something evil and orgiastic and then try to create a disturbance when they don't find it."

He lamented the presence of increasing numbers of "kids coming here after reading what a beatnik is and trying to dress and act like one."

"The term beat is looked on as an insulting term by many," he said. "They prefer the word beatific, a search for a beautiful attitude."

He offered this characterization of the beat group:

"I see them as people who are trying to gain a more direct insight into reality through emotional and intuitive forms of experience. Their lives are devoted primarily to search for illumination through poetry, jazz, various narcotics, different personalistic religions.

"They are rebelling against the analytical mentality, against people who regard life as a problem to be solved, who plan their lives years ahead and take out insurance. They build here a more spontaneous existence, living for today, not for a planned future. They believe in nonattachment to material goods."

Called Place of Contrasts

The clergyman hotly defended his neighbors against major charges directed at them. He called North Beach "one of the most sexually disinterested places I know and one of the most pacifistic communities I have ever lived in."

"This is a place where people who really are out of one world and trying to work their way into another one come to find some kind of retreat," he said. "It is an area of contrasts. Sometimes I feel it is the sickest place in the whole world. At other times I think it's the only place that's living.

"There is tremendous life here. I am struck with this vitality when I go elsewhere. I have never lived in an area that has such a sense of community. There is a search here for some spiritual vitality. Granted, a lot end up in disaster."

He said the police were responsible for having developed tension, some of it racial. Part of it is being built up between the residents of Italian ancestry and Bohemian newcomers, he added.

200 Attend Rally

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 30 (UPI)--- About 200 residents of North Beach gathered at Washington Square today to hear impassioned pleas for freedom from alleged police harassment.

The mass rally was touched off by the arrest a week ago Friday of twenty three persons in marijuana raids.

Jerry Hemster, bearded artist and book salesman, told the crowd, "I am not complaining about the arrest of obviously guilty people. We all know there are people who use dope as there are in every big city. What I'm protesting its that many innocent people were picked up and I'm complaining against the people who yell 'dope fiend,' 'sex fiend,' and 'rape' when they don't know anything about it."