“Nina Gilden Seavey was twelve in May 1970, when an Air Force building in St. Louis burned to the ground. Her dad represented a young man arrested in connection with the fire: Howard Mechanic. Facing serious federal time, Howard fled and became one of the longest-running fugitives in U.S. history. As an adult, Nina picked up the trail. My Fugitive asks: Whatever happened to Howard Mechanic?”
Just the story of the disappearance of Vietnam War protester Howard Mechanic is an intriguing one, worthy of any podcast.
After his arrest and conviction for an obscure offence within the Civil Obedience Act, Mechanic went on the run for the next 28 years.
He settled in Scottsdale, Arizona, but eventually gave himself up to the authorities when a local reporter became suspicious about his candidacy for public office in the area. He was pardoned in January 2001 by the outgoing President Bill Clinton.
But My Fugitive is much more than the Mechanic saga, with Nina Gilden Seavey cleverly weaving in her personal connection to the case (her father was Mechanic’s lawyer in St. Louis) and investigating connections in the city to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968.
What emerges is a fascinating yet unsettling look at the behaviour of government agencies (namely, the Federal Bureau of Investigation) during that period of huge civil unrest in the U.S.
In this episode of MetaPod, we speak with Gilden Seavey about her tireless work to uncover the truth about Mechanic and the FBI, how the U.S. used a combination of surveillance and the Dark Arts of domestic espionage to thwart the efforts of the anti-war movement and what it means for today’s society.
Show notes for My Fugitive
- The Feeling Of Being Watched – documentary film
- Enemies: A History Of The FBI – book by Tim Weiner
- Doesn’t Anybody Know How To Be A Fugitive Anymore? – New York Times article, April 2000
- Pineapple Street Studios
About Nina Gilden Seavey
Nina Gilden Seavey is an Emmy Award-winning documentarian with a 30-year career in the non-fiction world and president of Seavey Media. Seavey’s documentaries have won numerous awards including five National Emmy nominations (one statue awarded). She is the founding director of The Documentary Center in the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. She holds the academic rank of full research professor of history and media and public affairs, with appointments both in the Department of History and in the School of Media and Public Affairs.