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The Student News Site of Oakmont Regional High School

The Oakmonitor

Under My Thumb

Under+My+Thumb

Under My Thumb

Gage Ahearn

He stood out like a sore thumb in the crowd, watching as fists flew and landed, as screams and cheers shared the night sky. Out of the three-hundred-thousand people in the crowd, Meredith Hunter might’ve been the only one to attend in a suit so bright and green.

“You need to be careful,” his sister Dixie had warned him. She was strongly against him going in the first place. “Some rock music in the air isn’t gonna stop anyone from trying to hurt you.”

Ultimately, Meredith found value in his sister’s advice. As a black man, there were plenty of reasons for unjustified disaster. He stocked up for protection, loading a .22 Smith and Wesson revolver into his waistband.

“The girl who once had me down!”

It was December 6, 1969, and the conclusion to a year of peace, love, and most importantly, music. A new era had begun and it was going to be the era of the young.

Meredith, who had only heard about the riveting performances of Woodstock in August and the Monterey Pop Festival two years prior, was beyond thrilled when he learned about the plans for the Rolling Stones to hold a free concert of their own on the Altamont Raceway. Music was returning to California, and this time he wouldn’t miss it.

“The girl who once pushed me around!”

It was apparent that the security for the concert had more than a belly full of beer. Their behavior alternated heavily, between downing a cup full, and swinging at the concertgoers. Each chug of beer was less steady than the last, and each set of swings was more belligerent than the last.

“It’s down to me; the difference in the clothes she wears!”

Partiers pushed forward and were repelled back hard. They fell back into the arms and chests of those behind them, some with black eyes or a bloody lip, others with a broken nose or missing teeth.

The feel of the concert never wavered, if anything it got harder. Members of the crowd swam harder than they ever had, trying to climb the stage and meet the famed Mick Jagger. The security guards – members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club – were having none of that. They followed their biker methods and brutally beat anyone so daring. Their beatings were indiscriminate. Anyone who tried was whipped back into place.

“Down to me; the change has come!”

Interestingly enough, Mick Jagger – the perfect image of a badass – seemed more nervous and timid throughout the night, a far cry from his ordinary careless antics. Several times he had made attempts to cool the crowd. “Hey people,” he pleaded, his words rejected by the rambunctious crowd. “Come on, let’s be cool.”

The beatings worsened. The security had already drowned themselves in alcohol by this point and they shoved and swung and jabbed without thought, the desperate pushes of the crowd only angered and excited them, and things got bloodier.

Meredith, only twenty feet away from the stage himself, watched as blood was ejected from the faces of the crowd members, painting the grass below them and the fabric of their neighbors’ clothing.

“A girl who has just changed her ways!”

A strong push, generated by thousands of crowd members, throbbed forward. Meredith felt the push in his back. He stumbled forward and looked up to find himself face-to-face with a tipsy and angered motorcyclist. 

Panicked, he attempted to throw himself backwards into the crowd but he was met with the wall of people behind him. He felt a hand land on his left shoulder, but he was too distracted by the readying security guard to pay attention to the girl in the white crochet dress who was trying to pull him back into the crowd.

“The way she does just what she’s told!”

The biker took a step towards him, malice on his face. Panicked, Meredith reached into his waistband, securing the gun in his hand.

“Down to me!”

A weight suddenly placed itself hard onto his shoulder. Someone with a malevolent hand had clasped the base of his neck with a grip tight from anger. Meredith caught a glimpse of the leather jacket out of the corner of his eye. A sharp pain followed.

His left eye was blinded by his own blood, bubbling out from the thin wound on his temple. The gun lodged itself out of his hand and fell into oblivion. He was yanked back into the arms of his attackers.

“The change has come!”

He was grabbed and pushed by his assailants – at least two Angels. Another sharp pain shot into his back from a knife brought down from the sky. Another followed, then another. There was nothing Meredith could do but be soaked by the pouring rain. And that night, it rained daggers.

The pains continued until they stopped, and they stopped suddenly. As the last of his actions, Meredith Hunter collapsed to the ground. His impact ended an era. It ended the era of peace and love. But it didn’t end the music. The music went on.

“She’s under my thumb!”

Meredith Hunter died of his stab wounds on December 6, 1969, at the infamous Free Concert at the Altamont Raceway. He died almost immediately.

He was eighteen years of age at the time of his death.

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