The U.S. government’s response to an increasingly turbulent society was to prepare its troops for civil war, as this unsettling documentary details.
Beyond the Summer of Love image associated with the US in the late 1960s, the country was experiencing an era of increasing civil unrest. Opposition to the Vietnam War, anguish over progress with Civil Rights and an increasing sense of democracy failing led to student protests, city riots and whole communities going up in flames. The government’s response was to create full-sized city streets that would allow law enforcement and the military to play out various civil disturbance scenarios.
Sierra Pettengill’s film is an alarming portrait of the planning that went into the creation of dummy cities and scenarios intended to ensure the state could handle any social uprising, no matter whether they were peaceful or violent. The archive footage Pettengill has obtained is extraordinary, while the film, though far from objective, offers a chilling account of the forces aiming to suppress any opposition in the name of democracy.