The Crazies were a small group of anarchists who first stirred in the streets of New York’s Greenwich Village in 1968. Their bizarre street-theater antics attracted much attention in the alternative press and occasionally in the tabloid and mainstream press of New York City. The group’s leaders — 40-year-old Richard (Robin) Palmer and his 26-year old girlfriend Sharon Krebs — had no official titles but excelled at the stunts, particularly those with an anti-Vietnam War theme. For instance, at a February 1969 dinner at New York’s Hilton Hotel (an event held for officials of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Friends Committee on Legislation, the YWCA, the League of Women Voters, and the Ripon Society, as well as a number of political leaders), Palmer and Krebs infiltrated the banquet hall and suddenly appeared at the head table, entirely naked; they then placed trays laden with bloody pigs’ heads in front of the seated Senator Jacob Javits (R-New York) and Senator J. William Fulbright (D-Arkansas), while a hippie girl named Carola Hoffman waved a Viet Cong flag. Aso present for the disruption was “Prince Crazie” (George Demmerle), who usually wore a purple cape and a crash helmet decorated with ostrich plumes.
In October 1969 the Crazies participated in a large anti-war protest at Fort Dix, New Jersey. The next month, the New Left organized a major demonstration in Washington, DC, which at least three Crazies attended – Vincent Tsao, Donna Malone, and Sheila O’Connor. Prince Crazie did not attend; he was busy in New York, where he and fellow Crazie member Samuel Melville were plotting a dynamite attack on U.S. Army trucks outside the 26th Street Armory. (Melville had previously been responsible for a series of bombing attacks throughout the city – at banks, federal offices, headquarters of major corporations, and a pier). When Melville and Prince Crazie were ready to act, they went by separate routes to the armory. Upon their arrival, they were jumped by FBI agents who had been tipped off by an informant and were waiting in ambush. Meanwhile, other agents arrested Melville’s girlfriend, Jane Alpert, and John Hughey III at Miss Alpert’s 4th Street apartment. (Another member of the collective, Patricia Swinton, fled and would not surrender to authorities until six years later.)
The exposure of FBI penetration caused the Crazies to die out as an organization, and most of its members drifted off to other radical groups. Palmer and Krebs, for instance, joined Weatherman in 1970.
Melville, for his part, remained a leftist leader even while he served time in Attica prison for his attempted armory bombing. He played an active role in the deadly September 1971 riot at Attica, in which thirty-one inmates, including Melville, were killed along with seven guards and four other prison personnel.