Today marks the 49th anniversary of rioting at the Democratic National Convention.
I was 16. I watched it on TV.
Richard J. Daley, Chicago’s Mayor had intended to showcase the Windy City for a few days as the Democrats got together for their quadrennial love fest.
It didn’t work out that way.
Seems those darn hippies had other plans!
Yippies (aka radical hippies) had planned “A Festival of Life,” but rioting took place. Some say the rioting was perpetrated by the Chicago Police and the Illinois National Guard.
The fracases were well documented and historians debate today who started what and who hit whom.
Many journalists were caught UP in the violence; Mike Wallace, Dan Rather, and Edwin Newman were actually “assaulted” by Chicago Police while in the meeting hall of the Convention.
Coming back to Chicago after more than a decade away, Daley’s hopes were shattered as national attention veered away from the Convention and all Chicago had to offer to near anarchy in the streets.
The National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (again, stop with the ridiculously long titles please) and the Youth International Party planned a youth fest to coincide with the big DNC meeting.
The SDS, a radical campus organization, decided to join as well.
Chicago refused to grant permits for the demonstrations.
The crowd of 10,000 protestors and Daley’s 23,000 man police force created the perfect storm.
Daley’s reason, stated later, for calling out a resistance force of such magnitude came from reports that Yippie’s, SDS, and others were planning on assassinating many of the leaders including Daley.
Well, we can’t have that now, can we?
Meanwhile the Yippies held their own nominating convention along with Jerry Rubin and folk singer Phil Ochs where they nominated Pigasus, a pig, as in a real animal, for the Presidency.
Pigasus, Rubin, Ochs, and several others were taken into custody.
Pigasus was released on his own recognizance.
On August 28, the 10,000 gathered at Grant Park, about 3:30 PM a young man lowered the American flag; police broke through the crowd and broke out a can of whoop ass!
The crowd retaliated by throwing food, rocks, and chunks of concrete at the police and called the police whores and pigs.
Really, it was a mess.
Daddy was ready to lock and load, and was sure the end of the world was near.
The late Tom Hayden, who would become Mr. Jane Fonda, a leader of the SDS encouraged the protestors to move out of the park and disperse to avoid the consequences of impending tear gas.
The cops used so much tear gas it traveled UP the road to Hubert Humphrey’s hotel and caused him “distress” while in the shower.
Meanwhile, the crowd chanted, “The whole world is watching,’ and they were.
Inside the convention hall, Senator Abraham Ribicoff expressed his displeasure with the behavior of Chicago’s finest.
Daley was said to make “vulgar, disparaging, and ethnically derisive remarks.”
Humphrey was nominated, the news programs toggled back and forth between the celebration inside the hall and the violence on the street, and Richard Nixon sat in the White House gearing UP for a second term.
Most historians believe that America decided that night to re-elect the president.
Well, we all know how that worked out!
Have a great Monday.