Peter Howard Kami

A Brazilian student who attended UT at Nashville from summer 1966 to summer 1967 and UT from fall 1967 to spring 1970, Peter Kami was a charismatic individual around whom those protesting UT, national, and world affairs rallied. When students returned from the Christmas holiday in January 1970 and found that the board of trustees had appointed Edward J. Boling president during the holidays, there was outrage that student opinion and advice was not considered. Some students called for demonstrations.

On January 14 Peter Kami issued a “challenge” to Boling for “hand-to-hand combat” (a duel). The duel was to be part of a demonstration at the administration building on January 15. A core group of around two hundred protestors was joined by more than one thousand watchers. When Boling did not appear, someone called for entering the administration building. The police were called to disperse the crowd, and in the ensuing scuffle, four police and seven protesters were injured. Kami and twenty-one others—nineteen students and three nonstudents—were arrested for inciting to riot. (This group was known as the Knoxville 22.)

With charges still pending from the protest of Boling’s appointment, Kami was one of the leaders of the demonstrations against the visit of President Nixon at the Billy Graham Crusade in Neyland Stadium in May 1970. That demonstration resulted in more than 40 arrests, including Kami’s.

Kami and Foy McDavid Jr. were barred by injunction (first a temporary injunction, later a permanent one) from entering any campus building or UT facility without the express consent of then Chancellor Charles Weaver on September 25, 1970. In October 1970 Kami was sentenced to 10 days in jail and a fine of $50 for being on the UT campus, based on testimony from two law students that they saw him between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. on October 8 in the Student Bar Association Office on the third floor of the law school building. Kami contended he was in the building to seek advice from the Legal Aid Clinic. A group of law students paid his fine, and he served the 10 days in jail.

In March 1971 Kami was one of the lead group marching arm in arm from Circle Park to Market Square Mall in protest of the war in Indochina. (The Student Senate mounted an effort to lift the 15-month-old injunction barring Kami in 1972; Chancellor Dykes refused.)

Kami was convicted of inciting to riot in October 1970 and was released on $2,000 bond while awaiting appeal (the bond was paid by Professor Gideon Fryer). In March 1972 the Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld the conviction, which carried a felony sentence of two years. As his lawyer was appealing the matter to the Tennessee Supreme Court, Kami jumped bond and fled to London. Various people have heard from Kami—Professor Gideon Fryer was paid back in installments (the last, 1973, from Oslo) for paying his bond; a friend ran into Kami in a London subway in 1975; Kami contacted an attorney general in 1975 expressing some interest in returning to Knoxville but was told he would still face charges; Professor Charles Reynolds was in touch with him around 1990, when Kami was purported to be doing charitable work in Britain.

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  • Title Peter Howard Kami
  • Author
  • Keywords Peter Howard Kami
  • Website Name Volopedia
  • Publisher University of Tennessee Libraries
  • URL
  • Access Date October 25, 2021
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update October 10, 2018