On May 10, 1972 3,000 people, mostly University of Minnesota students, protested the mining of North Vietnamese ports. Some tore down fences, flipped a car and come into conflict with riot police at the scene. Debbie Shroyer, who had been instrumental in the People’s Pantry, the predecessor to the Twin Cities’ first natural food co-op, was there with her 8mm camera, and she shared her dramatic footage with Radical Roots.
This protest was part of what became know as the “Eight Days in May,” featuring the largest, most violent demonstrations at the University against the Vietnam War. It had kicked off the day before in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood with a protest at the dedication of the new Cedar Square West housing project by U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development George Romney (Mitt’s dad). North Country Co-op donated three dozen eggs to the protest. North Country co-founder (and Radical Roots interviewee) Dean Zimmerman, who was arrested at the protest, received twelve of them. "I was holding 11 eggs when they arrested me," Zimmerman later said. "They arrested me for the one I didn't have."
The voice on this clip is of Roberta Malles, who was one of the many early co-opers we interviewed who noted the connection between anti-war activism and the founding of the co-ops. It is a reminder that the natural food co-ops, like many co-ops before or since, were started as part of a broader social movement for peace and justice.
Help us bring this important history to more people by donating to Radical Roots at Seed & Spark, liking our Facebook page and following us on Twitter (@loveandequity). Radical Roots is a documentary that will tell the story of the radical youth who created the explosion of food co-ops and were torn apart in a war over what their revolution was for, and their activist heirs today.