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Abbie Hoffman led a band of some dozen activists in raining down dollar bills onto the New York Stock Exchange trading floor from the viewing gallery above on this date in 1967. The prank briefly disrupted activity on the floor as brokers and other exchange workers scrambled for the free money, and the prearranged presence of news media turned the event into an iconic protest, “perhaps the most striking act of guerrilla theater in American history, certainly in the financial world,” writes James Ledbetter at CNN, and “. . . helped cement Hoffman’s reputation as one of America’s most outlandish and creative protestors.” In fact, “the Dow Jones industrial average did . . . finish that week down 24.97 points, at 894.07,” Ledbetter notes. “And in 1967 the market began one of the most sustained bear periods in its history. . . . The U.S. economy began to suffer under the weight of spending on the Vietnam War and Great Society programs, and the stock market’s lackluster performance reflected that economic stagnation. To hear Abbie Hoffman discussing Yippie tactics of disruption a year later, look below.
“In the minds of millions of teenagers the stock market had just crashed.” --Abbie Hoffman
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.