ProtectThePresidentThe Secret Service assembled federal, state, and local police in a secure room at the Tulsa Airport to brief us on the current threat posture against the President of the United States, who was on a reelection campaign and would arrive shortly on Air Force One. American cities in the 1960s and ‘70s had become targets of violence led by college revolutionaries and socialist radicals such as SDS and SNCC. Protestors today in Tulsa were expected to do whatever they had to do in order to attract media attention for their “cause.”

Tulsa Police plainclothes TAC/SWAT teams, of which I was a member, were assigned to infiltrate the crowd in the airport hangar, keep our eyes peeled for possible assassins or other troublemakers, and isolate them quietly and quickly from the press and from creating further disturbances.

Air Force One arrived. President Nixon took the stage. Agitators seeded throughout the crowd began shouting him down, making threatening gestures, and, in general, being loud and nasty. The Press loved it.

Working in two-man teams, TAC officers distributed ourselves inside the crowd and targeted the most obnoxious and menacing of the offenders. Few noticed in the uproar when pairs of undercover officers cornered a reprobate and hustled him to the rear where we stored him in an “our-of-order” restroom guarded by a six-foot-seven TAC officer we called “The Giant.” Captives weren’t apt to escape past him.

It didn’t take long for us to fill up the toilet. The Giant complained of the increased stench.

Soon, a reporter discovered the reason why the multitudes had grown noticeably better behaved and less raucous. A large gaggle of reporters and news jocks gathered at the toilet, their excitement palpable in anticipation of action footage of cops wrestling protesting resisters to the paddy wagon. Nothing increased ratings faster than dope-smoking hippies yelling and screaming at the cops and getting beat up by them.

“This is going to be great!” one reporter exhorted.

We cops grinned at each other. We weren’t about to provide them a show. Neither were we going to accommodate the commode dwellers by providing them an audience on the 6 O’Clock Report.

We withdrew after President Nixon left the hangar and the crowd dispersed. Soon, the only mob remaining was the hoi polloi waiting for the action to begin at the toilet. News chasers scratched their heads in puzzlement, looked at each other, and shrugged. They scratched their noses, licked their lips, and stared at the unguarded door.

TAC officers watching from a distance snickered to ourselves. The toilet door finally cracked and a shaggy head cautiously emerged. The man stepped out into the hangar, followed by others one by one. They looked around, frowned, scratched themselves—and nothing happened.

No news here. The reporters shrugged some more and walked off in disappointment.

At last, when the hangar was all but abandoned, those who intended to be the stars of the 6 O’Clock feeding frenzy on TV slunk off too and disappeared into anonymity.

Watch this site for SQUIRRELS, NUTS AND LOONIES, by Charles W. Sasser, to be published soon.