Free Karl October 27

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During the Vietnam War, university campuses became a hotbed of revolt. “Free Karl” was an anti-war sentiment on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in 1973, calling for the withdrawal of the life sentence UWM student Karleton Armstrong was facing for the campus bombing of the Army Mathematics Research Center (AMRC). The October 27th rally held at UW-Madison Library Mall was one of many in an attempt to decrease Armstrong’s sentencing.

The AMRC was the only mathematics research center funded by the U.S. Government, receiving millions of dollars a year to assist the war effort. The center also worked on “Project Michigan,” which improved infra-red aerial photography and was later used to track down and kill rebel freedom fighters throughout South America.

Armstrong was a part of “The New Year’s Gang,” and their intention for bombing the AMRC was for no casualties: They bombed the building during their summer recess and called campus police to evacuate the area, which was never carried out. As a result, the demonstration killed Robert Fassnacht, a post-doctoral student who had no connection to the AMRC facility.

This event, called the Sterling Hall bombing, changed the way the anti-war movement existed throughout campuses across America – bringing the anti-war revolts to a tragic end.


Brown B., Sibler, G. 1979. The War at Home. Stadium Media LLC Studio. 

Glines, T. (2006). Review of Resistance or Terrorism? The 1970 Sterling Hall Bombing. The Journal of American History. 93(1), 156–158. 

Karl Armstrong Defense Committee, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Winter Soldier Organization. (1973, October 27). Amnesty For All War Resisters. Madison, WI, USA. 

The Karl Armstrong Defense Committee. (1973). Karl Armstrong and the AMRC: A Review of the Case, A History of Protest. 

Catalog ID CA0923