More Arrests at Republican Convention Bring up Police Brutality Specter of Infamous 1968

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Over 300 swept up at protests, police tear gas crowds, alleged beatings, even in approved areas

By Jeffrey Jolson

ST.PAUL, MN (RUSHPRNEWS) 9/5/08 – The question being asked, even by some Republican National Convention officials, is “What are the St. Paul police thinking?” While McCain and Palin have been holding one spotlight, police in riot gear have tear gassed crowds within the “protest” lot, far from the convention center and under permit, have jailed more than 300 people in the first three-days of the RNC including accredited journalists and been accused of multiple beatings.

Since protesters are expected, allowed and given their own space at every Convention or major gathering from the Oscars to the Superbowl, no alleged police brutality like this has happened in four decades. Police detained, and in some cases clubbed according to videos, reporters from PBS to the local colleges. Sometimes the protesters were charged, other times just held in jail for 48 hours and released. The comparison just became inevitable to Chicago Mayor Daley’s notoriously violent police actions at the ’68 Democratic Convention, where the tear gas and clubbing of activists became part of history as well as every 60s montage ever seen on the decade.

Growing anger toward war, more and more families plunged into poverty, questions of human rights violations, debates about racial equality, election campaigns’ fever pitch – sounds like the fodder for television talk shows today, right? True enough, but it was alsothe reality experienced by United States citizens forty years ago when the 1968 Democratic National Convention erupted in battles both inside the convention center and outside on the streets of Chicago, recorded by Pacifica Radio.

Mainstream U.S. news reporters may have been caught off guard, they may have even been influenced by political decisions on what to tell the American people and what to suppress, but Pacifica Radio, founded in 1948 to provide a broadcast venue for voices of peace, offers an audio snapshot of the events.

Pacifica Reporter Mike Hodel: “There are two Democratic Party Conventions in Chicago in August of 1968. One is inside the International Amphitheater, with banners and placards and gavels and speeches. The other is in the streets and parks of Mayor Richard Daley’s city with tear gas and rocks and mace and clubs and, most of all, with blood. And the cloud marked Vietnam hangs over both, tangling them together.”

Tensions were high as people still grieved that year’s assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. The Chicago police responded with tear gas and gunfire, heard in these historic recordings. Pacifica reporters were there in the streets; themselves running from the violence as they recorded these explosive turn of events in the election climate of 40 years ago.

Excerpt: Outside the ‘68 Convention a Pacifica reporter is caught between police and demonstrators: ‘There’s now a line of police in helmets. There’s a few brave photographers and others in the middle. I am now in line between the demonstrators on one side.. I’m going to get out the way as a few demonstrators are throwing rocks, etc. …I had to quickly retreat as someone began to throw a few cans. I want to get close enough so that they can see that this is Pacifica Radio here and not police radio. You can begin to now… feel the gas. They’re moving back slowly. I don’t know where we are in the park, there are no street signs… The kids are now moving back into the street. And for the first time, this reporter can’t feel whatsoever it is.. that’s.. They’re firing and pushing and shoving.. I’m trying to get far enough back so I can see what’s happening but it’s almost impossible to be able to give you a report as my eyes again… I’m going to have to.. (starts coughing hard).’

Recordings from Pacifica and Rush PR News include sound from inside the DNC, Bobby Seale(Black Panther Party co-founder), comedian Dick Gregory at President Lyndon Johnson’s “un-birthday” party; and reports on the police brutality from poet Allen Ginsberg and radio personality-author-oral historian Studs Terkel.

These are the sounds of history not heard on mainstream media of 1968, but have been restored and are available for all now bringing sounds of this era alive today. This audio will assist in any story telling of the 1968 DNC.

Excerpt from inside the 1968 Convention with Senator Wayne Morse: “The issue is whether or not the Democratic Convention is going to vote today to continue to kill American boys in South Vietnam. We can’t possibly justify this killing of our boys. We gotta have a change in policy and I hope the Democratic Party will take advantage of the opportunity to unite the party. And they’ll never unite this party unless they change the policy in Vietnam.”

The 1968 Revolution Rewind collection restoration has been made possible in part from a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. These recordings are free to students, teachers, and others associated with non-profit organizations.

Featured Clips:
Allen Ginsberg telling Pacifica Reporter about police brutality. Listen Here
Black Panther Bobby Seale in Lincoln Park Protest (:47) Listen Here
Pacifica Radio reporter Bill Watson reporting while getting tear-gassed during protest. Listen Here

SOURCE: Hollywood Today