Wednesday, 5 November 2008

CHICAGO 2008 & AUGUST 1968

It is a historic day for USA with election of Barack Obama as the next President of USA. I listened on BBC World radio durinig the night and was particularly interested in Obama's speech taking place in Grant Park in Chicago.

Iain and I lived in Chicago in 1968-1969. We were recalling events of 40 years ago. What a change from last evening where large crowds gathered to applaud Obama's victory!

We recall another gathering in Grant Park 40 years ago. It was the Democratic Party National Convention and subsequent riot of August 1968. The convention was being held in order to elect a nominee to run as the Democratic Party’s choice for the next US President.

Between 10,000 and 15,000 demonstrators were arrayed against 12,000 police and 6,000 National Guard troops, with an international press contingent of more than 1,000 on hand to record events inside the International Amphitheatre and outside at locations from Lincoln Park to Grant Park.

The rioting which took place was publicized by the media, some of whose members experienced firsthand the strong-armed tactics of the police/National Guard. The next day the papers were full of it. I clearly remember these 2 photos!

The Chicago Tribune, a Republican, conservative paper, blamed the disturbances on extremists and provocateurs and was full of photos showing demonstrators beating up the police.

Covering exactly the same event, the other newspaper, Chicago Daily News, was full of photos showing police beating up demonstrators (and journalists).

To put everything in perspective:
When it eventually came to choosing a candidate, it ended up being Hubert Humphry (over Eugene McCarthy). Wikipedia states "Even though 80 percent of the primary voters had been for anti-war candidates [McCarthy], the delegates had defeated the peace plank by 1,567¾ to 1,041¼. The perceived cause of this loss was the result of Mayor of Chicago Richard Daley, and President Johnson pulling strings behind the scenes. Humphrey, even though he had not entered a single primary, had won the Democratic nomination, and went on to lose the election to the Republican Richard Nixon."

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