1968 Democratic National Convention Protests

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The 1968 Democratic National Convention Protests was the capstone of 1968. Over the last year, protests groups had been promising to come to Chicago and disrupt the convention, and the City promised to maintain law and order. For eight days, protesters and police battled for control of the streets of Chicago, while inside the convention the Old Guard of the Democratic Party reigned supreme in all matters. Given the atmosphere in the International Amphitheater, one would not think it possible that a major conflict between police and protesters was taking place just a few miles away. That confrontation in the streets, however, would have a greater impact than the seating of racially mixed delegates from southern states, credential and platform battles, and even the presidential nomination. It was the violence in the street that held America’s attention during the last week of August 1968, not the convention.reference required

Yippie

The Youth International Party was one of the major groups organizing the Convention Protests. Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and a few friends were talking in Hoffman’s apartment in the Lower East Side of New York City on New Year’s Eve, 1967. They were discussing the events of the year, such as the Summer of Love and the Pentagon demonstration. It was suggested to have a free music festival in Chicago to defuse all the political tensions. Over the next week, the Youth International Party (Yippie) took shape. Yippie’s actions had begun over a year before its “official” founding. Yippie took the hippie ideal of doing whatever, whenever, and politicized it. Yippie was about using street theater and other tactics to critique American culture and induce change.[1]

In preparation for Chicago, the Yippies held the Yip-In, and the Yip-Out in New York City. Both events were planned simply as ‘be-ins’, with bands playing, and people generally doing what they want and having a good time. The idea was peace love and harmony, and a trial run for Chicago. The Yip-In was held at Grand Central Station. Someone hung a banner of an anarchy group on the wall. The banner was black, like the flag of anarchy, and had the group’s name “Up Against the Wall Mother Fucker,” written in red on it. Police stood by, watching the crowds, generally unaffected, with some jokes being passed between the two groups. As the Yip-in progressed, the claustrophobic nature of a large group of people in an enclosed area began to strain relations between the police and the Yippies. When two hippies climbed the large clock and removed the hands, the police decided to clear the station. They formed a skirmish line, ordered the people to disperse, and then started forcing their way through the crowd, swinging their batons. They left behind them a trail of bleeding and unconscious people lying on the floor, who were later arrested. The Yip-Out was similar in purpose, but held in Central Park. There violence was avoided, police milled in the crowd, and at the end of the day, people left peaceably. To achieve the permits and aid from NYC officials necessary to keep the Yip-Out peaceful, the Yippies performed a sit-in at the mayor’s office until the Mayor would negotiate on permits. In the end, an agreement was made on staging, electricity, police presence, bathrooms, and other necessities for running a music festival.[2]

These two be-ins gave the Yippies valuable experience in dealing with city and police officials. The Yip-in in Grand Central Station taught Yippies what police would likely do if pressed into an uncomfortable situation. During convention week in Chicago, several of the altercations between protesters and police began when protesters surrounded police. Don McNeill of the Village Voice said the Yip-In “was a pointless confrontation in a box canyon and somehow it seemed to be a prophecy of Chicago”.[3] The Yippies learned to avoid situations in which they could be subject to mass arrest or serious injury. The Yip-Out allowed the Yippies to run a music festival like the one they planned to hold in Chicago, in a city with an accommodating Mayor and on familiar ground. After these two events, the Yippies believed they were prepared to go to Chicago.

The Yippies took a radical approach to the DNC. They wrote articles, published fliers, made speeches, held rallies and demonstrations, all saying that they were coming to Chicago. The premise of Yippie was “do what you want, when you want to, but make sure to get photographed.” Threats were made that nails would be thrown from overpasses, blocking the expressways; cars would be junked blocking intersections, main streets, police stations and national guard armories; LSD would be dumped in the city’s water supply to make everyone trip; the amphitheatre would be stormed.[4] From their portrayal in the media, it appeared that the Yippies planned to shut down the city for the duration of the convention. None of these threats were actually carried out, and many of the threats (like spiking the water supply) were impracticable, but the city of Chicago panicked anyways. The City’s vilification campaign worked in favor of the Yippie’s plan. The Yippie Festival of Life was intended to draw attention away from the Democratic Party and Daley’s ‘Convention of Death’ across town.

The Yippies wanted to be the commercial to the Convention. By doing street theater they created an interesting experience that drew the attention of mainstream America. The Yippie activities highlighted the fact that the average American didn’t have control over the political process by ‘purposefully’ not doing anything that should have conceivably effected the decision making process in the convention hall. A ‘straight’ protest with picket lines, marches, and rallies could conceivably convince delegates of mass support for a program, but a bunch of people doing absurd things like nominating a pig for president and provoking police into a confrontation shouldn’t. Yet on Wednesday night, the networks cut away from the Amphitheater where the delegates were voting on the nomination to a ‘pitched battle’ in front of the Conrad Hilton hotel. In Mayor Daley’s convention report, a list of 152 officers ‘wounded’ on Wednesday's melee is presented. Their wounds ranged from Officer Robert Jones split fingernail and Officer Guadalupe Gonzalez’s thumb abrasion to Officer Gregory Kyritz’s infraorbital fracture of the left eye.[5] While precise numbers of protestors injured is unknown, because the medics in the first aid stations on the streets didn’t keep accurate records and many protestors didn’t seek any formal medical attention, Dr. Quentin D. Young of the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR) states that most of the approximately 500 people treated in the streets suffered from minor injuries and the effects of tear gas. During the entirety of convention week, only 101 civilians were treated by area hospitals, 45 of those on Wednesday night. What these individuals were treated for is unknown.[6]Despite the appearance of war on the street, no one was killed. The casualties of Wednesday night were significantly less than those experienced in Civil Rights marches in places like Selma and Birmingham, yet Wednesday night received as much if not more press coverage. Television seeks actors, and the Yippies played it for all it was worth. On the convention floor, several delegates made statements against Mayor Daley and the CPD, like Senator Abraham Ribicoff who denounced the “Gestapo tactics on the streets of Chicago” in his speech nominating George McGovern. Village Voice reporter Paul Cowan asked his editor to kill a story of kids throwing objects at the police hoping to provoke reprisals to publish a story on the police riot which “seemed to me a far greater evil than the fact that some kids had wanted to provoke it”.[7]

Mobe

The other main group behind the Convention Protests was the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (Mobe). Mobe was an umbrella organization that included any and all groups who were against the Vietnam War, such as SDS, Yippies and COC. While Mobe appeared to be a coalition of anti-war groups, it was really run by a small executive board that would set up a general framework for mass demonstrations, send out invitations to the over 500 groups on its mailing lists and coordinate activities between the groups. Mobe recognized and supported all tactics from marching to civil disobedience. Mobe’s main aim was to get the largest turnouts at its functions as it could. David Dellinger, Mobe chairman, believed that “The tendency to intensify militancy without organizing wide political support is self defeating. But so is the tendency to draw way from militancy into milder and core conventional forms of protest.”[8] Mobe’s mass protests, like the Pentagon, were organized around the groups participating. Several different areas were prepared for speech making and Mobe marshals were instructed to help each different group in organizing their particular type of protest. For groups like Women Strike for Peace, Mobe marshals would instruct the women on how to picket without being arrested, avoid a violent confrontation with the police, and generally provide the amateur protesters with experience. For groups like the Yippies and SDS, the marshals stayed out of the way and let the groups do their thing. The looseness of Mobe, which made its functions attractive to many groups, also weakened it. The unclear structure hampered communication and planning. Also, groups like the Black Panthers, SNCC, and SDS eschewed Mobe for its limited aim of ending the War in Vietnam, and not the system that created and perpetuated the war. Despite its weakness, Mobe was able to organize several successful protests. The first protest was the Pentagon March. Mobe organized a rally at the Lincoln Memorial with speeches by many renowned individuals including Dr. Benjamin Spock followed by a march and rally at the Pentagon. In the spring on 1968, Mobe sponsored the Spring Marches in New York and San Francisco. Mobe leaders worked with local officials to hold non-violent marches and create a show of force against the Vietnam War. The April 27 march in Chicago was part of the Mobe Spring Marches.

Mobe was headed by David Dellinger, a “little ‘c’ communist” and pacifist. Dellinger was jailed during WWII for refusing to abide by the draft. Because Dellinger was a seminary student, he could have accepted a deferment. Instead he opted to utilize civil disobedience to make a visible protest against war. After WWII, Dellinger continued working for peace, justice, and equality, participating heavily in the Civil Rights movement and on an issue-by-issue basis with anyone interested in peace, justice, and equality. Dellinger was instrumental in creating Mobe and was its chairman for the DNC.

While Dellinger provided the philosophy for MOBE, Tom Hayden provided the administration. From a young age, Hayden was disillusioned by society. In his last editorial for his high school paper, Hayden spelled out “Go to Hell” using the first letter of each paragraph.reference required At the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Hayden organized protests over dormitory living conditions. During his college years, Hayden traveled around the country, he was in Berkeley for the HUAC demonstrations in 1960, visited the National Student Association headquarters, and participated in a SNCC demonstration in Tennessee for sharecropper’s rights. Hayden also joined the fledgling group Students for a Democratic Society, co-writing the Port Huron Statement, the SDS mission statement, and was SDS president from 1962-3. Throughout the 1960’s, Hayden traveled around the world meeting with other leftists, including two trips to North Vietnam. In 1967, Hayden, along with many other “graduates” of SDS joined Mobe.[9]

For Chicago, Mobe originally planned for two large-scale marches and an end of convention rally at Soldier Field. The goal was originally a massive show of force outside the International Amphitheatre. Mobe also planned to have workshops and movement centers distributed in 10 parks throughout the city, many in predominantly black areas, to allow demonstrators and participating groups to follow their particular focuses. The individual groups participating in the protest would run movement centers. The movement centers would have been coordinating areas where workshops could be held and information and first aid could be obtained. Mobe was working with Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR) to provide medical attention at the various movement centers and during the marches and the Legal Defense Committee to help those arrested to understand their rights, post bail, and prevent the City from pulling any legal shenanigans.

Daley and the City

In the build up to the Convention, Daley repeatedly announced "Law and order will be maintained".[10]

Chicago’s security forces were well prepared for the convention. Through Police Superintendent Wilson’s efforts of modernization and the motivation to be prepared for the demonstrators, the Chicago police were well equipped. Besides the standard gun and billy club, CPD officers had mace and riot helmets. For the convention, the CPD borrowed a new portable communications system from the military, greatly increasing communication between field officers and command posts. All summer long, police officers had received refresher training on crowd control and riot techniques. During the convention itself, Police Academy instructors were with the reserve forces, giving last minute reminders.[11]

To satisfy manpower requirements, the City put the force on 12-hour shifts, instead of the normal 8-hour shifts. This gave police commanders approximately 50% more field officers to deal with disturbances. Two thirds of the officers would continue with the normal police duties. The remaining third would be on hand for special assignment. The 12-hour shift also contributed to the violence. The officers were working long hours under stressful conditions, so it is no wonder that the violence by police officers increased as the week progressed.reference required In the Amphitheatre, the City concentrated 500 officers filling various roles. In Lincoln Park, the number of officers patrolling during the daytime was doubled, but the majority of the officers assigned to the Lincoln Park area were held in reserve, ready to respond to any disturbance. Police officials essentially planned a zone defense for defending the city. In suspected trouble areas, police patrols were heavy. As one moved away from the center, patrols were less frequent. This allowed the police to shift easily and quickly to control a problem without leaving an area unguarded. While maintaining a public image of total enforcement of all city, state, and federal laws, the Narcotics division was quietly reassigned to regular fieldwork, curtailing anti-drug operations during the DNC.[12].

Police officials and Mayor Daley had worked with the National Guard to create a plan to effectively use the National Guard. The Guard would be called up at the beginning of the convention, but held in reserve at strategically placed armories or collection points such as Soldier Field. This made the Guard into a rapid response force. In previous civil disturbances, much of the delay in regaining control was in the implementation of the National Guard. With the Guard in place at their armories, the CPD could request and receive assistance before they were completely overwhelmed by protesters. By the time of the DNC, Chicago was prepared for the worst, making it appear almost as an occupied city.[13]

MLK Riots

On Thursday April 4 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. King was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, and generally respected as an intelligent and caring man by both whites and blacks. In 1968, King was working not only for the enfranchisement of blacks in the south, but of all poor and disenfranchised people in the country. King had been trying to organize the Poor Peoples campaign, a march to Washington and demonstrations at both political conventions of poor people from every race to protest the unfair and inadequate social programs in America. With his death, the Poor Peoples campaign lost its impact, with few people knowing or caring about the thousands camped in a makeshift town in Washington DC or the handful of marchers in Miami or Chicago. In addition to the failure of King’s initiative, King’s murder sparked riots and violence across the country. As news of King’s death reached the major cites, local leaders prepared to contain and minimize violence and disruption. In Chicago Daley ordered all flags to half staff and began speaking of King as a trusted colleague rather than the bitter enemy he had become since 1966. By mid morning on Friday April 5, the violence raged throughout the poorer West side while the more affluent South Side black areas were quiet. Police were unable to subdue rioters or protect firefighters and ambulance drivers as they tried to put out the fires that covered the city with smoke. By 2 pm Daley had requested the National Guard to quell the disturbance. It was in the aftermath of this that Daley issued his “shoot to kill” order. He told police to shoot to kill or maim any suspected arsonist or looter in the street. While Daley’s handlers tried to spin the intent of the order, it told police that they would not be held accountable for any violence they might commit during a riot. Incidentally, there were more police in and around City Hall than there were in the areas affected by riots.

Like the Pentagon Demonstration, the MLK riots were a practice run for Chicago authorities. Chicago had not had a major civil disturbance since the summer of 1919. There had been several large demonstrations, many of them turning violent, but not lasting more than a few hours or a few city blocks. The King riots forced Chicago police to deal with large numbers of people who were rioting against the social order. Police and firemen endured snipers and assaults of rocks and bottlesreference required, and did so relatively effectively considering the lack of resources at their disposal. The King riots were also the first test of Police Superintendent James Conlisk. Superintendent Orlando Wilson, a professional police officer, had been brought in from California in 1960 in response to the excessive corruption of the Chicago Police Department. Wilson did a good job of reforming the department.reference required For a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that Daley could not control him; Wilson ‘retired’ in 1967, bequeathing his position to James Conslick, whom he had brought up through the ranks. While Conlisk was Wilson’s protégée and tried to continue Wilson’s policies of symbolic arrests and independence to the Mayor’s office, he was tied to Daley’s machine and thus had to toe the party line. After Daley’s ‘shoot to kill’ order, which gave the police carte blanche to use as much force as the deemed necessary to maintain ‘law and order’, the police started to take a more aggressive stance against dissidents.[14]

April Peace March

On April 27 1968, a Peace March was held in Chicago in conjunction with marches around the country. After stalled permit negotiations, march organizers were issued a permit for a march. They were allowed to use half of the sidewalk, and have a brief rally at the downtown Civic Center Plaza. During the march, police held marchers for several series of stoplights and otherwise harassed marchers.reference required After the marchers reached the Plaza, police allowed for a brief pause before beginning to disperse the crowd. They used their nightsticks upon demonstrator’s legs and backs to hurry their departure, arrested and beat people who stepped off the curb into the street, taunted demonstrators with foul language,reference required and otherwise harassed them.reference required There was a public outcry at the police brutality but, as none of the major newspapers had planned on covering the march, the City had time to spin the situation in their favor. No police officers were charged in connection with the April 27 violence.

Permits

Both Mobe and the Yippies needed permits from the City in order to hold their respective events. The City didn’t want the protest groups to come, so they used a tactic of stalling. The protest groups would meet with deputies and assistants, after strenuous efforts to arrange a meeting, who promised to think about the issues discussed and would get back to the protest groups. The tactic of stalling in permit negotiations was an old trick to limit the number of protesters who would show up. Many of the more moderate protesters would balk at not having permits to march. As evidenced by the convention turnout, the tactic worked well. The protest groups believed that they would eventually get permits, or some type of an arrangement that would allow them to demonstrate. The City had no intention of giving the groups their permits.reference required Besides partisan reasons for wanting to limit the number of protestors coming to Chicago, the City had several valid reasons for denying permits to Mobe and the Yippies.reference required The King riots had shown that Chicago’s black community was not as stable as was thought. The City was worried about a black rebellion, independent of the white protesters, during the convention. To avoid trouble, the City used its influence with black community organizations such as The Woodlawn Organization, the Black Consortium, and Operation Breadbasket to try and keep their constituents calm and peaceful. Some of the militant black leaders were encouraged to leave town during the convention to avoid being implicated in any violence.[15] The City believed that having large numbers of white protesters marching through the black ghettos, with a heavy police or National Guard escort would inflame the ghettos, and set off rioting. Therefore, the City categorically denied any permit that included parks in or march routes through black areas.

Another argument the City used to deny permits was that the permits asked the City to set aside local and state ordinances. A city ordinance closed the city parks at 11 pm. This was not rigidly enforced, so during the hot summer months, many residents slept in the parks. The difference in the minds of the City was that those people did not ask to sleep in the park, they just did it. The police should have evicted those people. It was also law that no night rallies or marches be held. The City saw no reason why they should set aside these laws for people who were coming to Chicago with the express purpose of disruption. In a letter to the Yippies, Deputy Mayor David Stahl gave eight rules for the Yippies to follow, including submitting detailed plans and requirements, following all city, state, and federal ordinances, and toning down the rhetoric. The Yippies did none of these things,reference required so the City felt justified in denying the Yippies their permits.

Knowing that permits could help control protestors, the City did offer alternatives. None of the alternatives came close to the original plans of Mobe or the Yippies, nor did the alternatives allow either group to meet its goals. Mobe tried using the Federal government to intervene and force the City to give the necessary permits. The Federal government got the same treatment that the protestors did.reference required In a last ditch effort, a lawsuit was filled in federal court. Judge Lynch, Daley’s former law partner, heard the case. Lynch ruled that the city had made efforts at compromise, and it was the protest groups that were being unreasonable. When the DNC started, there were no permits, forcing Mobe and the Yippies to become innovative in achieving their goals.

The Convention

The accepted starting point of the convention week’s violence is the shooting of Dean Johnson by Chicago police officers. Dean Johnson, age 17, and another boy were stopped on the sidewalk by the officers for a curfew violation early on the morning of Thursday, August 22. Dean Johnson reportedly attempted to draw a pistol that misfired. The police officers shot Johnson three times.[16] As news of the shooting spreads among the protestors, various memorial services are organized. At the rallies, speakers said Johnson died of “pig poisoning”.reference required On the surface, it is surprising that Johnson's death did not spark a major reaction from the protestors. Johnson died almost two full days before the main contingent of protesters were scheduled to arrive. The vanguard that was in place at the time of the shooting was busy planning for the arrival of the bulk of the protestors. Mobe leaders were downtown trying to deal with the lack of permits and decide on an alternate course of action for mass protests. The Yippies were meeting with CBS to coordinate media coverage when they heard of Johnson’s death. The Yippies and SDS hastily threw a memorial service together but, as one observer noted, due to poor planning “it turned out that no one had made any plans to actually do anything. We just milled around and began to fill up the intersection. Two squad cars pulled up and the cops got out and told us to keep moving . . . but they were pretty gentle about it”.[17] In the absence of a leader, some type of plan, and significant numbers, the crowd simply faded away. Johnson never became the public martyr he could have been, as the only person to die in conjunction with convention week.

On Friday, August 23, the planned protests began. Jerry Rubin and a band of Yippies attempted to formally nominate the Yippie candidate for president, Pigasus the Pig. By the time Rubin arrived with Pigasus, “several hundred spectators and reporters had gathered” on the Civic Center plaza. The event was almost over before it started. Police officers were waiting, and as soon as the pig was released, Rubin, Pigasus, and 6 other Yippies were arrested. The media was still able to obtain their interviews and pictures by grabbing anybody who was left that looked ‘Yippieish’. A local reporter’s wife was asked to pose with a ‘Pig for President” sign that she had picked up off the ground. The picture of her and her child in a cradleboard later made the Chicago Tribune and the Walker report. This planned act was a demonstration not only of the Yippie mentality to the general public, but a demonstration to other would-be Yippies and protestors on how to protest. Everyone knew that at about 10 a.m., Pigasus would be nominated. The police knew and planned to control the ‘disorder’, the media knew that the nomination itself would be a good story, and the police controlling the ‘disorder’ could turn into a better one, and the Yippies used that to create a sensation. The planned kick off for convention week created more of a frenzy than Dean Johnson’s death.

At 6 a.m. on Saturday August 24, full convention week strength continuous surveillance began in Lincoln Park. For the last several nights, the police had cleared Lincoln Park at 11 pm and maintained a significant presence during the day. Most of the protestors were engaged in preparing for mass demonstrations and confrontations, and most had a more comfortable place to sleep than Lincoln Park, so violence was avoided. Saturday, however, marked the beginning of mass demonstrations, as opposed to the street theatre of the Yippies. Women Strike for Peace attempted to hold a women-only picket at the Hilton Hotel, the main delegate hotel. Despite plans for buses from around the country to bring hundreds of picketers, only 60 or so women showed up. The lack of permits, and the threats of violence made by both radical protesters and security forces, caused many moderate protestors, which formed the majority of Mobe participants at the Pentagon and Spring Marches, decided to not participate in the Chicago Action. This apparently failed protest was the catalyst for much of the convention week violence. Mobe and the SDS contingent realized that their “‘liberal base’ has finked out big” .[18] It was apparent to all that the expected hundreds of thousands of protestors would not be descending upon Chicago to disrupt the convention with their presence. It was generally agreed upon to not attempt to stay in Lincoln Park after the curfew, but to rather to take the fight to the streets because “In parks, ain’t no place to go. Can’t fight battles on a grassy plain. No ammunition (unless you carry it)”.reference required By leaving the park, the protestors put themselves in a position where they could carry on a protracted conflict with the police while avoiding situations where mass arrest was possible. At exactly 11 pm, noted poet Allen Ginsburg led protesters chanting ‘Ommmm’ out of the park into the streets of Old Town. SDS leaders organized several hundred of the protestors to march through the streets chanting things such as ‘Peace Now’ while the police simply guarded Lincoln Park. When the crowd stopped at Wells and North Avenue, blocking the intersection, a police contingent arrived and cleared the crowd using standard crowd control measures. Eleven people were arrested and several police cars were stoned before the crowd dispersed into the normal Saturday nightlife.[19]

On Sunday, Mobe had scheduled a ‘Meet the Delegates’ march and picket. At 2 p.m. there were between 200-300 picketers marching across the street from the Conrad Hilton, and another 500 marching south through the Loop chanting, “Hey Hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today”. The police rushed men from the Task Force to meet the marchers. After the police arrival, those who were picketing moved into nearby Grant Park to hopefully avoid a mass arrest situation. Mobe wanted to fill the streets as much as possible, not be held in jails on exorbitant bail. Once the marchers had reached Grant Park, there was a brief rally where Davis and Hayden claimed the day a success, and then beat a hasty retreatreference required to Lincoln Park where the Festival of Life was beginning.

The Yippies had been working all day on the logistical problems of running a music festival. They threatened, cajoled, and pleaded with city officials in Lincoln Park to get electricity and permission to use amplified sound. At 4 pm, the Festival started with MC-5, the only band who showed up for the festival. The police did not allow a flatbed truck to be brought in as a stage, fearing the Yippies would use it to incite the crowd. In an attempt to see the band play, many spectators kept pushing forward, creating tension in the crowd.

When the concession stand owner insisted that the Yippies stop using his electrical outlets to run the amplification equipment, confusion ensued. While Rubin and other Yippies tried to make frantic deals to get the sound back on, Hoffman used the confusion to try and bring in the flatbed truck. The police stopped the truck partway into the park. The crowd began milling about it as Hoffman talked with the police.

A deal was struck allowing the truck to be parked nearby, but not in, the park. The crowd that had gathered around and on the truck did not realize an agreement had been reached and thought the truck was being sent away. The crowd surged around the truck, pinning in the police officers.reference required The protestors screamed obscenities at the cops, and the cops yelled right back. The police made a few token arrests of ‘crowd leaders’ as policy dictated, and forced their way out of the crowd with their prisoners.

Hoffman declared that the police had stopped the music festival, and proceeded to conduct a workshop on dispersal tactics to avoid arrest by police. As the 6 pm to 6 am shift came on duty, they were informed of the tense situation in the park. Due to the number, frequency, diverseness, and exposure of the threats made by radical protestorsreference required, the police were concerned about facing protesters armed with unknown weapons and unknown intentions.

At 9 pm, police formed a skirmish line around the park bathrooms. This drew a crowd of spectators who heckled the police.reference required The heckling drew more spectators, who joined in the heckling, and the incident snowballed until the police charged into the crowd swinging their batons, scattering the crowd. This process happened twice more as rumors of the incident spread about the park. The protestors exaggerated the violence and numbers of the policereference required, and the police exaggerated the violence and numbers of the protesters.reference required In the dark, it was difficult to confirm or deny the rumors that over 10,000 protestors and 1,000 police were in the park. Fear on both sides escalated the tensions.

More and more protestors were determined to stay in the park after the 11 pm curfew. Veteran protestors were explaining on the best tactics for engaging the police without putting oneself into jeopardy.reference required At 11 pm the police pushed the protestors out of the park. Most protestors left the park and congregated at the intersection of Clark and LaSalle Streets, taunting the police.reference required

Initially when the police reached the edge of the park, they maintained their skirmish line. When a squad was ordered to ‘clear’ Clark Street to keep traffic flowing the police lost control. The police tried to clear the streets, most using their batons to jab and push people along, but some using them to beat protestors bloody. A running battle began, with police reinforcements arriving unsure of what was going on. Mobe leaders watched from a doorway, amazed but not displeased. Yippie Jerry Rubin told a friend “This is fantastic and it's only Sunday night. They might declare martial law in this town.”reference required Order was not restored in Old Town until early Monday morning.

The rest of the convention week violence followed the pattern set Sunday night. The hard line taken by the City was also seen on the convention floor itself. In 1968, Terry Southern described the convention hall as "exactly like approaching a military installation; barbed-wire, checkpoints, the whole bit".[20] Inside the convention, journalists such as Mike Wallace and Dan Rather were roughed up by security; both these events were broadcast live on television.

When Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-Conn) delivered a speech nominating George McGovern for President, he infuriated Daley by saying, "with George McGovern as President of the United States, we wouldn't have Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago."[21] Daley responded by shaking his fist at Ribicoff, and shouting a phrase that was inaudible, and which has generated much speculation. An uncredited author for CNN wrote, "Most reports of the event also say Daley yelled an off-color epithet beginning with an "F," but according to CNN executive producer Jack Smith, others close to Daley insist he shouted 'Faker,' meaning Ribicoff was not a man of his word, the lowest name one can be called in Chicago's Irish politics."[22]

Subsequently, the Walker Report to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence assigned blame for the mayhem in the streets to the police force, calling the violence a "police riot.[23]

References

  1. Farber, David. Chicago ’68. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988. pp. 3-28
  2. Farber, 38
  3. Gitlin, Todd. The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage. New York, Bantam Books, 1987. p 238
  4. Stien, David Lewis. Living the Revolution; the Yippies in Chicago. Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merril Co., 1969
  5. Chicago Department of Law. The Strategy of Confrontation; Chicago and the Democratic National Convention, 1968. Chicago, 1968. pp 65-66
  6. Walker, Daniel. Rights in Conflict. New York, E. P. Dutton & Co. 1968. p 353
  7. Gitlin, 330
  8. Farber, 90
  9. Farber, 76-8; Hayden, Tom. Reunion, A Memoir. New York, Random House, 1988, 25-103
  10. 1968: a timeline of events
  11. Farber, 128-32; Walker, 106-20
  12. Walker, 106-112
  13. Tuttle, 54
  14. Royko, Mike. Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago. New York, E. P. Dutton & Co., 1971
  15. Walker, Daniel. Rights in Conflict. New York, E. P. Dutton & Co. 1968
  16. Farber, 165; Walker, 132
  17. Stien, David Lewis. Living the Revolution; the Yippies in Chicago. Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merril Co., 1969. pp 37-42
  18. Farber, 172
  19. Walker, 138-9
  20. Online NewsHour: Terry Southern reports from the 1968 Democratic Convention - November 1968
  21. AllPolitics - Democratic National Convention
  22. AllPolitics - Democratic National Convention
  23. Max Frankel (1968-12-02). "U.S. Study scores Chicago violence as "a police riot"". The New York Times. p. 1. http://select.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=FA0612FB3A541B7B93C0A91789D95F4C8685F9. Retrieved 2007-12-31.