David Harris, 2017
acrylic on canvas
30 x 24 in
While the hippie movement was flowering in the LSD-soaked Haight Ashbury in 1967, the Summer of Love, Joan was protesting the war in Vietnam, getting arrested – along with her mother, Joan Sr., and younger sister, Mimi Fariña – at a Bay Area anti-war demonstration and spending time in Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail.
Her husband at the time, David Harris, the father of their son, Gabe, paid an even higher price for standing up against an unjust war, serving 20 months in federal prisons. Harris was voted “Boy of the Year” at Fresno High School in 1963 and went on to become student body president at Stanford University. He had the resources to get out of the draft if he had wanted to take an easy way out. But rather than flee to Canada as some draft resisters were doing, or come up with some phony medical condition that would get him rejected as 4-F, he and some other courageous draft protesters founded the Resistance, an organization that encouraged young men of draft age to refuse to cooperate with the Selective Service System, to return or burn their draft cards and refuse to be inducted. By banding together, they hoped to help bring about an end to the war. When Harris failed to report for duty, he was charged with draft evasion, a federal felony.
“The day we awaited his arrest, the house was filled with draft resisters and other anti-war activists,” Joan remembers. “When the sheriffs arrived they were invited in for coffee. They refused, put David in handcuffs and we all cheered as they put him in the car.” As the sheriff’s car drove off, one of the anti-war mischief makers stuck a bumper sticker over the license plate. It said, “Resist the Draft.”
After being released on parole in 1970, David said, “In prison, I lost my ideals, but not my principles.”