VISTA — From protests to courtrooms, Dick Eiden has lived a life unlike many others.
The former self-described activist lawyer spent his career fighting for those less fortunate, protesting wars and representing immigrants in court. He also founded a poetry group in North County, the Sunset Poets, but now is celebrating the release of his memoir, “Paying the Rent: Adventures of a Left Coast Activist Lawyer from the Turbulent ‘60s to the Era of Donald Trump,” which was recently published by Lymer & Hart.
In addition, Eiden, 74, will appear for a book launch at 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1600 Buena Vista Drive.
“This one focuses on my political activism,” he said.
Publisher Bill Harding, founder of Lymer & Hart, said he was drawn to Eiden’s story because Eiden is so unassuming he never would’ve guessed Eiden lived such a colorful life.
However, the challenge for the publisher is shaping those stories into a book and capturing the reader’s attention to maximize Eiden’s tales of activism. Harding said the early reviews have been positive and hopes it will resonate with many.
“We thought breaking it up into small segments would make it easier to read,” he added. “What came out of it was a lot of rich detail and the personal side was woven and his life came together around these issues.”
The book begins in 2003 at an Oceanside rally protesting the Iraq War before going back to Eiden’s childhood in Pomona in 1940s and 1950s. Another aspect he gets into some detail about is the history of social movements including the civil rights fight, which began as Eiden was entering college in Santa Barbara in the 1963.
However, he flunked out after his freshman year, but during a stint at a local junior college, Eiden said he met a philosophy professor who would change the Vista man’s life.
“He made me aware of a lot of things that were going on around me,” he explained. “That’s kind of the start of my political stuff.”
He led a peace march at Mount San Antonio College and then went to law school at UCLA. Eiden said the campus was engulfed in turmoil and described an incident where about 100 Los Angeles police officers went to campus to go after students protesting UCLA’s ROTC.
“They went in for the demonstrators, but then they went after everybody,” he recalled. “My English professor … he was down there with a group of students having lunch and the cops went after them as well. There ended up being a riot and the cops were there seven hours.”
After graduating law school, Eiden went to work as a draft counselor, starting a legal collective to assist people with avoiding being drafted for the Vietnam War.
Additionally, he protested the 1972 Republican National Convention and its backing of President Richard Nixon.
He also went to Wounded Knee in 1973, joining at least 200 Sioux as part of the American Indian Movement to protest corruption on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The occupation by AIM lasted 71 days and two Sioux were killed by federal agents.
Eiden also went to Iran to monitor the trial of 11 revolutionaries after they were jailed for protesting the Shah in 1978. Soon, Iranians would start their own revolution.
“It started about three months later, in August,” Eiden said.