Thursday, December 11, 2008

"So Your Brother's Bound and Gagged"

“The two questions I was always asked were: (1) is there any chance that the police won’t create a bloodbath? (2) Are you sure that Tom and Rennie don’t want one?”
This quote from activist David Dellinger in reference to the preconceptions of both the demonstrators (Tom and Rennie) and the Chicago Police lays down the key issue. Neither side was ready to prevent violent confrontation. Neither side aimed to maintain nonviolent order. Neither side sought to find common ground to make progress with the other.

From the TIME magazine article, "Dementia in the Second City" published on Friday September 6th, 1968, the meeting between demonstrators was described,
"The demonstrators constantly taunted the police and in some cases deliberately disobeyed reasonable orders. Most of the provocations were verbal—screams of 'Pig!' and fouler epithets. Many cops seemed unruffled by the insults. Policeman John Gruber joked: 'We kind of like the word pig. Some of us answer our officers 'Oink, oink, sir,' just to show it doesn't bother us.' The police reacted more angrily when the demonstrators sang God Bless America or recited 'I pledge allegiance to the flag.'

The assault from the left was furious, fluky and bizarre. Yet the Chicago police department responded in a way that could only be characterized as sanctioned mayhem. With billy clubs, tear gas and Mace, the blue-shirted, blue-helmeted cops violated the civil rights of countless innocent citizens and contravened every accepted code of professional police discipline

In some of the wilder fighting, the demonstrators hurled bricks, bottles and nail-studded golf balls at the police lines.

But on Wednesday night…Outraged when the protesters lowered a U.S. flag during a rally in Grant Park beside Lake Michigan, the cops hurled tear gas into the crowd.

'The force used was the force that was necessary,' insisted Police Superintendent James Conlisk Jr. He could point to the fortunate fact that no one was killed. He also pointed out—almost with pride—that the casualties included 152 cops."

And again, excerpts from the TIME magazine article "Who Were the Protestors?" from Friday September 6th, 1968, the events are further explained,
"Long before the Democratic Convention assembled, the protest leaders who organized last week's marches and melees realized that they stood no chance of influencing the political outcome or reforming "the system." Thus their strategy became one of calculated provocation.

The aim was to irritate the police and the party bosses so intensely that their reactions would look like those of mindless brutes and skull-busters."

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