Note: Ramparts was a Catholic magazine, published from 1962 to 1975. Within several years of its inauguration, it became one of the leading ‘movement’ publications of the Sixties, publishing some of the most critical coverage of the Vietnam War and other unrest happening during the period. One of their biggest projects was their coverage of the 1968 Democratic Convention, held in Chicago from August 26th through the 29th. Their 20,000-word story is unavailable online, as with most of their archives. As part of a project I’ve been working on about the convention, I decided to digitize the article, bringing back to life some of the most sensational, politically nuanced coverage of one of the defining events of this tumultuous period. I hope this article will serve as catalyst for thought for those unfamiliar with these events, and will challenge journalists and activists to recognize the strength of in-depth reporting as a critical tool in fostering successful radical movements.-TH
H.L. MENCKEN NOTED in the 1920’s that the only part of the Bill of Rights to survive the arrogance of the police, the courts and the executive branch was the proscription of the Third Amendment against the quartering of troops in peacetime. In Occupied Chicago during the last week of August that, too, was taken from us.
Along with it to limbo went a sacred series of living liberal cliches — beginning with orderly change through the system and ending with respect for law and order — and, descending to a lower level, there went the soul of the wheezing, hump-backed and palsied political dinosaur which had disguised itself in public as the donkey of the Democratic Party.
On Thursday of that fateful but fair-weathered late summer week, the day after even the white solidarity of suburban Chicago was jolted by the local news that Hugh Hefner had been clubbed in the rump while out observing the gassing and beating of Yippies, and after tear gas wafted into the baroque confines of that very citadel of Midwestern decadence — the Pump Room itself — all these other things took place:
The chairman of the New Hampshire delegation to the Democratic Convention, for a joke, shoved his plastic Dartmouth faculty card into the droop-lipped, evil-eyed electronic identification machine guarding the delegates’ entrance at the Chicago Amphitheatre, and was tackled by two convention “security officials,” dragged into the shadow of a concrete staircase, methodically pummelled, handcuffed, pushed outside and turned over to the Chicago police, who arrested and booked him downtown.
Marco Eisert, eighteen, an incarcerated demonstrator from Berkeley, was removed from his cell in the 18th District Police Station near Chicago’s spacious Lincoln Park, told it was “time for the showers,” taken to the shower room and beaten by a uniformed policeman around the ribs with a club, and then kicked, quite hard, in the stomach.
Tommy Thompson, a reporter working out of Time-Life’s Chicago bureau, was taking notes on the progress of a police beating party which was attending to people massed in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel, when a cop, who since early in the week was called, generically, a “pig” by minister and Maoist alike, walked up to him, smiled, and sprayed him in the face with Mace.
A phalanx of delegates to the convention, leading a flying wedge of some 4000 students, Yippies and radicals on a protest march to the stockyards surrounding the Chicago Amphitheatre, clashed with the combined forces of the Illinois National Guard and the Chicago police who were planted next to a 15-foot armored personnel carrier topped by a .50-caliber machine gun, directly on their route. At the ignominious industrial intersection of Michigan Avenue and 16th Street, 26 of the official delegates and alternates to the 1968 Democratic Convention were thus arrested, followed by the persistent gassing of the younger ranks behind them. The demonstrators then attempted, three times, to charge through the police line, fronted in Prague-like perspective by jeeps wrapped, for the special occasion of the Democratic Convention, on three sides with chicken wire and on the fourth side — the front — with barbed wire.
Then the demonstrators, trying mostly in vain to wipe the stinging gas from their faces with wet cloths through which they had tried, ineffectually, to breathe while under gas attack, marched angrily down Michigan Avenue With a caravan of jeeps rumbling behind them. At the perimeter of Grant Park, where the hotels begin and Michigan Avenue makes its own attempt to become Chicago’s Champs Elysees, they began chanting, now 3000 voices strong, “Fuck Mayor Daley,” in reference to the very same man whom Senator Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut had publicly scolded from the convention rostrum that afternoon as an inconsiderate hooligan and by implication as a fascist.
Hubert Humphrey, a candidate who supported a war that had been overwhelmingly repudiated by Democratic voters in free primaries and who, right up to the convention’s opening gavel crash, was sagging behind Senator McCarthy in polls taken in the larger states, and who was running a mile or so behind the Republican, Richard Nixon, all over the country, formally accepted the Democratic nomination for President and spoke about the need for party unity and law and order.
Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul and Mary, stood ten feet before the long grim line of National Guardsmen who were protecting the convention headquarters hotel, the massive and ugly Conrad Hilton, by containing a crowd of some 10,000 jammed into the frontage piece of Grant Park across the street. The folk music group had been singing the same traditional peace and civil rights songs for the last eight months of McCarthy’s primary campaign — from New Hampshire to Wisconsin and on to Oregon — but the lyrics took on a new and radical meaning in the context of this awesome confrontation: “We Shall Not Be Moved,” “This Land Is My Land,” “Ain’t Goin’ Study War No More.” Shortly after Yarrow asked McCarthy staff volunteers — still in their rooms in the Hilton — to blink their room lights off and on in a simple gesture of solidarity, the troops began lobbing tear gas into the center of the crowd. At that, the quiet, peace-loving folk singer called the cops their other name.
Friday, at dawn, the police marched into Senator McCarthy’s 15th floor headquarters, on the pretext that “objects” had been thrown out the window (one of McCarthy’s speech writers later owned up to throwing out some leftover lox), rousted the senator’s young campaign workers from their beds, herded them into slow-moving elevators down to the lobby, and, in the words of the police officer in charge, proceeded to “teach them a lesson and give them a beating.”
All acts for a comedy of horrors, perhaps. But the Gothic events of Chicago have more than mere Reichstagian significance. For by Thursday, with the possible exception of Mayor Daley’s immediate family, friends and employees, everyone, even the Southern delegates, had the uneasy sense that something significant was happening out there in the streets that they didn’t understand.
First in line to realize the nature of the political phenomenon that was occurring in the streets of Chicago while the Democrats played a continuous corruption show under the television lights of the amphitheatre were the youths known as the “Clean for Gene” — the thousands of students who carried Senator McCarthy’s campaign on their shoulders from New Hampshire onward into the electoral forest. They had worked hard, gotten the votes, won primaries and carried the will of the people with them to Chicago. But Mayor Daley treated the entire convention as if it were a South Side precinct. He simply invalidated the poll lists.
And he made sure things stayed just his way by utilizing barbed wire, billy clubs and big bruisers inside the convention hall.
By the third day of the proceedings there wasn’t much for the McCarthy people to do but stay in the hotels and watch other delegates get pushed around on the telly. Their dreams of bringing about change in America through the system vanished in a cloud of Mace, and the “Clean for Gene” kids went out onto the street. There was nowhere else to go.
I. The Yippies Are Coming
“YIPPIES ARE REVOLUTIONARIES,” proclaimed Jerry Rubin, the former Berkeley student activist. “We have merged New Left politics with a psychedelic life-style. Our life-style — acid, long hair, freaky clothes, pot, rock music, sex — is the Revolution. Our very existence mocks America. The old order is dying. The Democratic Party is dying. While it dies, we will celebrate the Festival of Life. Come to Chicago! We are the politics of the future.”
“Yippies are voluntary Niggers,” observed Paul Krassner. editor of the Realist. We live outside the system, and those inside it despise and fear us.”
“The Yippies are a myth, laughed digger-mythmaker Abbie Hoffman. “They are anything you want them to be, man. Just do your thing. But do it in Chicago next August. It’ll be a gas. Like, it’ll fuck the system.”
Out of such a meeting of blown minds in late December 1967, the Yippies were born. They were propelled full-force into 1968 on the jet-propelled wings of the mass media, ever hungry for something new and a little different.
By the time the Yippies began to filter into Chicago late last month, in the mind of conventional, uptight Mayor Daley, they must have seemed like the advance guard of Mao’s Eighth Route Army.
Mayor Daley has talked a lot about the leaders of Chicago’s street demonstrations, apparently under the delusion that “Yippies” and “radicals” and “communists” and “McCarthy kids” are separate, controlled groups like the Illinois and Texas delegations, and that events in Chicago can be explained by explaining the actions of four or five men. By his standards, then, the Yippies arrived in Chicago on August 15 — because that’s when Rubin and Hoffman showed up. Tom Hayden and Rennie Davis, project directors for the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, had been in Chicago all along.
Hoffman, not incidentally, is a past master of the art of “hype” in talking to the press. Shortly after his arrival, he announced blandly that Yippies would put LSD in the city’s water supply; Chicago immediately put a guard on to watch its entire water system. When, after the Yippie pig was
busted in Civic Center, Hoffman made the deadpan announcement that “next time we’re going to nominate a lion,” the guard was doubled at Lincoln Park Zoo.
The Democratic National Convention was to begin on Monday, August 26. All through the weekend and the days before, “kids” — the generic in-group term for whoever, regardless of age, was a member of the group in the streets. and a word not without significance as a self-chosen term for a group which deliberately cuts itself off from the values of older groups — were drifting into Chicago, in such numbers as to bring panic to the “organizers” of the forthcoming protest. “My God!” Hayden exclaimed on Saturday. “There’s nobody here!”
THE YIPPIES took up residence at The Theater, on Wells and Clark Streets, just across from well-kept and lovely Lincoln Park. The Theater (it seats 300 and does off-Broadway material) is at the northern end of Old Town, Chicago’s unsuccessful attempt to achieve North Beach, much less Greenwich Village. To the south lies the Gold Coast, a wealthy section that contains several major hotels. To the east across Lincoln Park, lies Lake Michigan.
On Friday morning, August 23, with enough advance notice to set up ample press coverage, a handful of demonstrators brought a pig to Civic Center, in downtown Chicago, to nominate it for President. Among several hundred passersby, perhaps 100 yippies waited.
As soon as the station wagon door opened, the pig broke free. In an instant, intrepid Chicago policemen pounced on it, and almost simultaneously seven persons were arrested, including Rubin, a police “tail,” and Phil Ochs. When they asked the charge, a cop snapped, “I’ll think of something.” Three hours later it turned out to be disorderly conduct, and bail was set at $25 cash. A half hour after that bail money arrived. Three hours and 45 minutes later, the seven were released.
That night at ten, a RAMPARTS office received a phone call: a gunman was waiting outside the house in which Abbie Hoffman and Paul Krassner were to stay, intending to kill Hoffman. Krassner, who was in the RAMPARTS office, headed for the scene, accompanied by RAMPARTS reporter Art Goldberg. On the way the two men, both of whom have hair of demonstrable length, were stopped by two cops in an unmarked police car, frisked, their car searched. By the time they arrived at the house they found that a shorter-haired friend, Ron Kaufman, had preceded them, called the police, and had the gunman picked up: the landlord of the building, it turned out, was after “long haired hippies” in general and either Krassner or Hoffman in particular. The landlord was taken into custody because the gun was unregistered, then released because he had been on his own property.
Later that night, in a downtown hotel, two members of the rock group Country Joe and the Fish were assaulted by a Vietnam veteran. The tension in Chicago was building.
By Saturday morning the Yippies were seriously concerned about the low immigration rate. Mayor Daley had made it clear that the parks would be cleared at 11 p.m. in accordance with a standing local ordinance; Rubin and Hoffman had been unable to get a permit to use the park, and there had been some thought that the 11 p.m. park clearing might be a confrontation point. But by Saturday Hoffman was saying, “It’s not even a matter of staying in the park. Its just a question of survival.”
But Hoffman had underestimated himself. Almost by accident, the Yippies had chosen the best possible place in Chicago to settle.
Original plans had been to settle in Washington Park, bordering on the black ghetto, but local blacks urged that the scene be moved away from them; they didn’t want their community involved in somebody else’s action. Rubin had urged an immediate struggle for Grant Park, in downtown Chicago, but rock groups who were invited to play wanted to play, not fight, and the pre-convention struggle for permits had centered in part around Grant Park. A number of churches in the Old Town area, accustomed to dealing with whatever hippie movement already existed in Chicago, offered a welcome; they set up medical and other facilities (and issued a leaflet of invitation headed “Yippies, We Love You”).
So it was Lincoln Park, near Old Town. What the tiny squad of Yippies barely recognized is that Old Town is one of the few white neighborhoods in Chicago in which cops are something less than neighborhood heroes.
Lincoln Park is, normally, the park that the community uses, and long before anybody got uptight about Yippies, the cops had been tight in Lincoln Park, so much so that the local community harbored a ready resentment, however half-conscious and unfocused.
Saturday in Lincoln Park turned into a be-in. The Yippies, who had been counting immigrants with despair, looked around and found themselves in the midst of 2000 people. They quickly nailed to a tree a sign reading “Communication Center,” put a table beneath it, and for the purposes of at least some of the press, the be-in became a “demonstration.”
But it wasn’t. It was a gentle summer day in the park, like any quiet gathering of hippies in Tompkins Square or the Panhandle or Griffith Park. “Straights” wandered around gazing wide-eyed at the “massive influx of Yippies” which their television screens had told them about, not recognizing their neighbors. Guitar players gathered small groups of listeners; African bongo drummers filled the air with their soft, throbbing, insistent beat. Plainclothesmen tried to look inconspicuous. Conscious of the political overtones of the gathering and the resultant increased “straight” attention, the participants cooled it with pot and acid.
The only overtly political action was a snake dance in the park’s southeast corner. The snake dance is a technique used by the Zengakuren, the Japanese student organization, for breaking through police lines, but the Japanese do it better than Chicago hippies. In Lincoln Park, 100 snake dancers, under the instruction of Mobilization marshalls who had been to Japan, shouting “Wa-shoi, Wa-Shoi,” took a crack at a ten-man line and failed to break it. Rennie Davis told the press dryly that the forces of the Mobilization would not use snake dancing against Chicago cops.
Most of the Mob’s attention on Saturday was directed toward the Movement centers which opened that day. Davis and Hayden had hoped that these centers — located (mostly in churches) in the Lincoln Park area, on the near North Side and the Hyde Park area around the University of Chicago — would provide a focus for smaller “guerrilla” actions by demonstrators. As it turned out, most of the centers were understaffed and served mainly as housing. Those on the South Side were too far from Lincoln Park, where the first three days’ action centered (the transportation strike gripping Chicago throughout the convention didn’t help).
One of the more successful centers was operated by Students for a Democratic Society at the Church of the Three Crosses on Sedgewick Street near Lincoln Park, a white clapboard building with a New England steeple that sits oddly amid Chicago’s dark architecture. SDS hadn’t wanted to come to Chicago originally (there was some criticism by SDS leaders of onetime SDS stalwart Tom Hayden for devoting so much time to the Chicago demonstration), and its role during much of the convention week, while friendly, was hesitant. Its leaders feared a bloodbath if mass demonstrations took place and advocated instead a high degree of organization, dividing the demonstrators into small groups for “squad actions. When the demonstrators showed a patient indifference toward the idea, SDS leaders — while many took part in the actions of the week — devoted most of their time to talking to disillusioned McCarthy kids.
The long happy day turned into night, and tension began to rise. The thousand or so left in the park wondered whether to wait for the cops to come at 11 and what they would do. At about ten, poet Allen Ginsberg and Fug Ed Sanders arrived, Ginsberg playing his bells. As the crowd gathered, they began the hypnotic Hindu “Om.” At about 10:40, with the group still chanting — “Ommmmm, Ommmmmm, Ommmmmm” — Ginsberg rose slowly, bells tinkling, and began to move out of the park. He wanted, he said later, to avoid bloodshed.
The group headed toward The Theater, but Ginsberg and Sanders, their purpose accomplished, stepped inside the doorway of the Lincoln Hotel.
Suddenly, without any apparent stimulus, the crowd surged forward and then began to run. They turned down Street, the main drag of Old Town, and burst into the heart of the amusement section, past the Star of India Restaurant, the Beef and Bourbon, the Old Town Pump, the Hungry i and a shoddy club offering topless and bottomless go-go girls. As they moved, exhilarated by their own action, they began to chant: “Peace now! Peace now! Peace now!”
And something happened that most of them had never seen before. On the sidewalk, the Saturday night crowd ,almost all under thirty, was smiling and waving. A few, hippie and “straight” alike, joined the crowd. Drivers in cars, untroubled by the press of people around them, set up a rhythmic honking and waved their fingers in the “V” symbol of the movement.
Although the demonstrators moved in the street and around the cars, there was no attempt to block traffic. There was no violence, no broken windows, no pounded cars. In fact, it wasn’t really a demonstration at all: it was a parade of citizens through their own city, a joyful and exuberant release from the tension of the day.
At the major intersection of North and Wells, a few cops appeared, but they took no action. No large numbers of police appeared until the march, the dance, the parade had moved ten blocks to Goethe Street and the edge of the Gold Coast.
Caught completely off guard by the spontaneous parade, the police had to catch up. They succeeded in making five arrests at the end of the line, but suddenly demonstrators ( not leaders — for there were none — but simply people who saw the need of the moment and responded) shouted, “Get back on the sidewalk! Don’t give the pigs a chance to bust you! This is only the beginning.”
As suddenly and spontaneously as it began, the demonstration disappeared. In Old Town, the demonstrators simply stepped up onto the sidewalk and became a part of the citizenry. Some quietly sat on stoops in the warm summer night and talked as though they had been there for hours A number deliberately sauntered, in groups of two or three, directly toward the police, watching them curiously.
A guerrilla army had found its jungle.
And with the maneuver, the group made clearer than at any time during the days to come the folly of the categories and the conversation of politicians and press alike. To speak of “Yippie strategy” or “Mobilization tactics” in describing the street action of Chicago, as though one were discussing the strategy of the McCarthy forces or the tactics of the Wisconsin delegation, is as irrelevant as talking about Jerry Rubin’s shoe size.
The demonstrators were first of all a community, in a sense of that word which has been lost to most older Americans — a group united in the joy of being together and in the astonishing liberation of the discovery that the streets are truly, and not in a merely rhetorical sense, theirs. A similar feeling of unity, of suspension of the self in being a part of the whole, can make a mob when the union grows from hatred; but in the streets of Chicago, while there was often fear and disgust and contempt and frustration, there was little hatred.
In the Saturday night crowd many wore McCarthy buttons, many were uncertain about their presidential preferences, not all rejected the system. Of the locals, some were white working class kids who had originally come to the park to be where the action was, to look for girls, or to defy the cops. In the world of categories, the individuals had nothing in common; they shared only a feeling of belonging together and a distrust for accepted authority.
The music in Lincoln Park on Sunday never happened. When the first rock musician plugged in his first amplifier, a cop pulled the cord. Hoffman tried to find a higher-level cop, but without success. An attempt to get a truck into the park failed, but only after something near a confrontation.
One of the park people, possibly stoned, began to yell and curse the cops and was promptly arrested; a young man standing nearby protested the arrest and was arrested with the first. The cops had to drag them away, however, and they had to drag them through a crowd just as hostile and twice as bold as they would have faced the day before.
As the cops dragged away the two men they had arrested, about 300 of the park people moved to follow them, and for a moment it looked as if the police would be attacked. The rest of the police detail in the park, only 30 men, moved to the area and formed a line. While the two men were taken away in an unmarked police car, the two lines stared at each other, as tense, mutually frightened and mutually determined as tanks at Checkpoint Charlie. Several thousand more people stood back from the lines, but clearly on the side of the 300 enrages.
It was those in front who began the cop-taunting that later marked so many confrontations. “Pig, pig, fascist pig” they chanted and, “pigs eat shit, pigs eat shit.” When reinforcements showed up, the group facing the police sat down; but the police made no move, and after awhile the line of demonstrators slowly began to melt away. The situation evaporated.
But again, the great bulk of people in the park, seeing the smaller group defy what everyone was coming to regard as the illegitimate authority of the police, were emboldened. The 300 were not any sort of special cadre; they were simply the bolder of the crowd, the ones who had drawn the most from the night before.
On the other hand, the police had acted with restraint; there had as yet been no clubbing, and the force had only just begun to serve the difficult twelve-hours-on-twelve-hours-off that was to wear at their nerves for the rest of the week. And the hip tactics of the young, so far beyond their understanding, had not yet begun to blow their minds.
In the park, the crowd continued to grow, people gathered around a bullhorn to discuss that night’s 11 p.m. deadline. SDS speakers pushed strongly for organization of the entire crowd into tactical groups of 20; but the crowd refused to be organized.
The lights in the park were out except for those around its perimeter, and with deadline time approaching, the crowd drifted inexorably toward the well-lit western side of the park along Clark Street. The police had promised a warning at 10:30; when no warning had been given at 10:55, exhilaration began to sweep the crowd as they became convinced that the cops weren’t coming after all.
At two minutes to eleven, a long-haired man carrying a flag of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front, riding on the shoulders of another man, began to shout, “The park is ours! The park is ours!” The flag moved into the park, away from Clark Street, and most of the crowd, taking up the chant, followed it, some people became apprehensive and shouted “It’s a trap! It’s a trap!” There was a moment of confusion, and then the flag, with 1000 demonstrators behind it, headed for the southwestern edge of the park and emerged on LaSalle Street. Now chanting, “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh,” the crowd filled that wide street and poured south in arm-linked lines.
Ten policemen fell in behind the march, but made no attempt to interfere. Another NLF flag joined the first in front; the chant changed to “Two, four, six, eight, organize to smash the state!”
The crowd was only slightly larger than the Old Town crowd of the night before, but while the feeling of community was the same, the people were different: this was a more political group, many of them helmeted. They surged through Rush and State Streets, then moved to Michigan Avenue and headed for downtown. They dumped garbage cans into the street to block traffic, and pounded on stopped cars as they passed (one group terrified two “straight” girls by rocking their car until other demonstrators persuaded them to leave). The march dispersed after it met a solid line of cops blocking the Michigan Ave. bridge into the loop.
The march had met no resistance at first because not everyone had left the park: 1500 people had stayed, and that’s where the cops turned up. They made no move until 12:30. and then they moved in from the east to drive the demonstrators out into Clark Street. A group of demonstrators quickly moved to block the important intersection at Clark and LaSalle. Another blocked Clark adjacent to the park.
At that point the first clubbings came. As they did all week, the cops moved first on newsmen and photographers — reporters from Time and Newsweek took the worst beatings of the night. and a number of cameras were smashed.
As the swinging cops moved in, the demonstrators again faded, but this time they had to run to do it. They took off down side streets, and the cops let them go (there were reinforcements in some of the side streets, and had the object been more sadistic beating, it might have been much worse; at this point, despite the clubbings, the cops were still showing some restraint by letting the demonstrators go, once their gathering had been dispersed and the park and intersections cleared).
So the opening skirmishes were fought on the civil liberties issue of the Yippies right to sleep in Lincoln Park. It looked for a time as if the park question might turn the demonstrations away from the political direction the Mobilization people wanted them to take.
But Rubin and Hoffman also intended a political result. The effect of their theatrical performances (like the pig incident), their charisma, and their ability to create a loose framework for people to function in, was to bring together the group in Lincoln Park into a form of community. The events of the rest of the week would inexorably and inevitably politicize them.
[THE BARRICADES GO UP]
TOM HAYDEN OF THE MOBILIZATION didn’t have much to do on Monday morning, having narrowly escaped arrest on Sunday night during a weird game of follow-the-follower with a couple of Chicago plainclothesmen.
Ralph Bell and Frank Liggio were assigned to follow Rennie Davis, another Mobilization leader. Since Hayden and Davis were together most of the time over the weekend, they tailed him too — if that’s the word for walking two or three feet behind, hissing insults and promising trouble. On Sunday night in dark Lincoln Park, Hayden and Davis private-eyed the two cops: they slipped out of sight in the
darkness. Davis got away, and Hayden circled around to follow-the-followers to make sure Davis’ escape was clean.
The problem was that they lost Davis and found Hayden. Bell and Liggio muscled him to their car, promising along the way to “beat the shit out of him” — and found that someone had let the air out of their tires. They decided to arrest Hayden for it. He yelled for help, and when a number of people came out of the park and surrounded the car, the two cops let him go.
The Mobilization had planned a demonstration at five p.m. on Monday at the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute, where they study chemical and biological warfare. Until then, the only thing on the agenda was some workshops the Yippie leaders were planning in Lincoln Park, so Hayden decided to go there, and meet with a number of Mobilization marshals who would work on the afternoon’s demonstration. At about two p.m., while Hayden was talking with the group of marshals, a pair of plainclothesmen turned up with a warrant for his arrest and led him away. The charges were disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstructing a police officer. The complainants were Ralph Bell and Frank Liggio.
Aided by a couple of uniformed cops, the two plainclothesmen took Hayden out of the middle of 40 of the Mob’s well-trained and much-publicized marshals with no trouble at all. Most of the people in Lincoln Park didn’t know what had happened.
Within ten minutes, however, several Mobilization people began to call for a protest march to police headquarters. About 500 people left the park. Along the way, they picked up more marchers (the eventual number was over 1000), including Rennie Davis, who had heard about the arrest while at Mobilization headquarters and rushed north. Davis became one of the march’s leaders and all along the route conducted negotiations with the police, determined to prevent any difficulty en route and to see that the demonstration at police headquarters came off.
The march arrived at the modern, computerized headquarters to find it completely surrounded by cops (“It’s wall to wall pig,” one marcher grinned). A uniformed photographer took pictures. The marchers linked arms and began a series of taunting chants: “Pig, pig, oink, oink, soo-ee. soo-ee.” The demonstrators crossed the street, varying their taunts and chants (one was “Free Huey, free Hayden, free Huey, free Hayden”) until Davis suggested to the massed demonstrators that they move the demonstration and “go over to the people really responsible for this arrest. Let’s go over to the Hilton and let the Democratic Party know how we feel.” Hayden was released on bond later that evening.
Across Michigan Avenue from the Conrad Hilton Hotel is Grant Park, and in Grant Park, on an elevation, is an equestrian statue of Major General Jonathan Logan, an Illinois Civil War officer. When the statue came in sight, it seemed, for some reason, to trigger an immediate response to the marchers, who saw it as a target to occupy. The demonstrators streamed up the hill and “liberated” the statue — hanging NLF red and black flags from it and clambering all over it. The scene was too much for the cops.
The cops in their turn made a Teddy Roosevelt charge up the hill, and the kids hanging on the statue hastily clambered down — except for a remarkably straight-looking young man from Birmingham. Alabama, named Lee Edmonson, who got stuck.
A march leader immediately approached a Chicago assistant corporation counsel named Elroy (a political commissar for Daley’s cops; some representative of his office accompanied police actions throughout the week, ostensibly to see that the cops stayed legal), and said that if he would restrain his cops from violent action. Edmonson would climb down voluntarily and submit to arrest. Elroy agreed and ordered the cops to let Edmonson climb down.
The cops ignored him. Out of control for the first — but far from the last — time during the week, they clambered up the statue and hauled the demonstrator down, breaking his arm in the process. When they put him in the police car you could see the McCarthy button he wore.
The demonstrators gathered across from the Hilton, chanting and listening to speeches. Mobilization leader Dave Dellinger told the crowd that Hayden had three goals in helping to organize the Chicago gathering:
“He wanted to take people’s eyes off the hypocrisy that was taking place inside the amphitheatre and focus attention on where the real emergency was, on the draft boards, the induction centers, and the war research institutions. Secondly, he wanted the establishment to expose themselves for what they really are — Chicago has become a concentration camp. Thirdly, Hayden had hoped to heighten the political consciousness of people. A consciousness which is really heightened is one that takes action.”
It was by then 6:30, and some delegates, ready to make their way to the amphitheatre for the opening session of the convention, had wandered over to listen to the speeches. They eventually went off to their destination, and the rallyists to theirs — Lincoln Park, where still another night of 11 p.m. confrontation was in store.
From the SDS Movement Center on Sedgewick Street, on the South Side, 250 activists marched north to join the group in Lincoln Park. During the evening, a thousand or so demonstrators undertook a march down Wells Street, shouting slogans and waving at the people on the sidewalk. who cheerfully waved back. It was another trip through home territory — and it was broken up by fewer than 20 cops, four of whom planted themselves squarely in the path of the march with no sign of flinching, and another dozen or so of whom waded into the middle of the line, which faded immediately, again, into the surrounding “jungle” of friendly territory.
The brief skirmish showed that the wraps were off the cops — they charged newsmen and cameramen wherever they could, and they were vicious with any demonstrator they caught. But even the demonstrators themselves had trouble distinguishing each other in the protective coloration of Old Town.
One reporter, searching for demonstrators, was about to decide that he had wandered up the wrong street, when a police car stopped at the corner. Immediately it was surrounded by 100 people, chanting and shouting. More police cars roared to the corner — and the demonstrators disappeared again.
The march, however, was stopped, and the demonstrators drifted back to the park to await the police invasion. That’s when the first barricades were built.
[FROM CONTAINMENT TO REPRESSION]
AS BARRICADES GO, they weren’t much. Somebody turned over a picnic table, somebody else put a park wastebasket on top of it, and pretty soon everybody was piling up whatever they could pile. An attempt to set fire to the picnic tables failed. Eleven o’clock came and went, and the bravest of the demonstrators, gathered on the western side of the park from which the police had come the night before, waited behind a 50-yard-long barricade which wouldn’t have stopped a determined pickup truck.
The police took an agonizingly long time getting ready. The front line formed long — easily long enough to swarm around either end of the barricade. A road ran through the park at the point where the barricade was built, and from the other direction — from behind the barricade — a police car suddenly appeared.
It was the first attack on police by demonstrators. Rocks and bottles pelted the police car. Its rear window and most side windows were kicked in, its roof light and siren broken (eerily, as demonstrators pounded on the car, the siren kept emitting a soft, wounded moan). Through it all the two cops inside sat pokerfaced, watching, making no move for long minutes until finally the car lurched forward toward the barricade, backed around, and retreated to the police lines.
With wet handkerchiefs over their faces in case of tear gas and a few of their faces coated with Vaseline in case of Mace, the crowd, at least 3000 strong, waited. The last two known plainclothesmen in the group crossed the lines. A few of the policemen in the line stepped forward.
And then the gas came.
There were five or six canisters and they came so suddenly that only a few people had time to throw anything at the line of cops. The demonstrators fell back slowly, a number of them shouting “Walk! Walk! Walk!” lest panic cause a rush that could become a massacre. Then, abruptly, people began to choke: the police had used, not tear gas, but a much more powerful Army anti-riot gas called CS.
And then the cops moved in.
It was impossible to retreat fast enough. The demonstrators blocked Clark Street, halting traffic, and the cops charged into the crowd, swinging not only billy clubs but in some cases shotgun butts. Once again, press representatives were singled out as targets, but other than that the attack was indiscriminate. Cops climbed porches and even went into houses to grab and beat people; one man was clubbed in his own backyard. There were constantly repeated cries of “Pig!” but they were fiercely angry cries, shouted in frustration. At the three-way intersection of Clark, LaSalle and Wells — hurling whatever missiles they could to slow the brutal charge of the cops — the demonstrators turned down Wells, where on previous marches they had found refuge. This time the cops were waiting: they had anticipated the move and came up from behind.
The police were completely out of control.
They burst into bars — some hippie bars and some the sort of swinging places where young attorneys meet airline stewardesses between trips — and indiscriminately hurled patrons into the streets, ordering the proprietors to close shop. Once in the street, the patrons were likely to be clubbed for being in the street.
From windows and from creeping or immobilized cars was came so many catcalls and “V- signs that cops actually started to club motorists in open cars; four of them surrounded two young and short-haired men in a Corvette and pounded them for 30 seconds. The squarest of citizens was as apt as not to be hurling rocks at the police in retaliation. The overwhelming police attack (after most of the action had ended, a RAMPARTS reporter toured the area by closed car and counted at least 500 police) moved all the way down to Chicago’s Gold Coast, and some of the city’s wealthiest Citizens found themselves on the wrong end of police clubs for the first time in their lives.
On Monday night, close to midnight, several hours after he had been released on bail, Tom Hayden was arrested for the second time in one day. He had been forcibly barred from entering the lobby of the Hilton Hotel by the manager even though he had arrived with McCarthy staffers who were registered guests. Walking away from the hotel, he was fingered by his plainclothes tail. A uniformed officer and the burly plainclothesman collared him from behind, wrestled him to the gutter and pummeled him with their fists in full view of a dozen witnesses. Hayden, stunned by the sudden attack from the rear, pleaded as he was being hustled to a paddy wagon, “What did I do? What did I do?” When they got him to the police station they told him what he had done — the arresting officer said Hayden spit at him and charged him with aggravated assault.
The second Hayden arrest and beating — without any provocation — was just one more sign that by Monday Daley and the police were losing their cool and moving from a policy of containing the demonstrations to actively repressing them.
[LAW AND ORDER UBER ALLES]
THERE WAS A MIST off the lake all Tuesday night. In the swirling fog, early Wednesday morning, the National Guard moved into position between a crowd of demonstrators and the Conrad Hilton, and an outsider, watching, could feel a sudden wrench of time. A Guard officer climbed atop a jeep to address the demonstrators, and held his hand outward and upward, at arm’s length, for silence. The response was immediate:
“Sieg — HEIL! Sieg — HEIL! Sieg — HEIL!”
Earlier, in the same mist, cops massed on the lake shore side of Lincoln Park as midnight neared could see another sight almost as strange. Atop a slight rise, a rough wooden cross, 12 feet high, loomed in the fog; beside it, waving gently in the light breeze, was an NLF flag — which by now was becoming, not the defiantly carried standard of the “enemy” in Vietnam, but a genuine banner for rebellion against oppression in Chicago..
200 clergymen had come to Lincoln Park on Tuesday night, many of them local, to lead a peaceful sit-in in advocacy of an “open park” 24 hours a day. Hundreds more had come to join them, most of them Old Town residents; by midnight the total crowd in the park was 2000.
2000 had been there for a rally that evening, at which Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers told everybody to “pick up a crowbar or a piece.” Another 3,500 had gone to an “LBJ UnBirthday Party” at the Coliseum, sponsored by the Mobilization, and listened to speeches by William Burroughs, Jean Genet, Terry Southern and Allen Ginsberg and to the singing of Phil Ochs. The party group, in general, went from the Coliseum to Grant Park; the Lincoln Park people, in general, stayed there. Someone likened the two groups, with their still somewhat different perceptions of the week’s meaning despite their shared experiences, to students in Paris (Lincoln Park) and Japan (Grant Park).
As midnight approached in Lincoln Park the question was whether the police would gas 200 ministers. The answer was yes: they would have gassed 200 archbishops in full regalia. The rest of the scene, after the cops drove the demonstrators once again out of the park, was a repeat of the stories of the nights before, with one notable exception: it was even worse. Cops charged into houses, dragged out the occupants and beat them. Several drew guns in the course of chasing demonstrators or while under the now constant, angry rock-and-bottle attacks, but there were no reports of shooting.
The non-violent crowd which had sat-in became militant. They lost; the police action was so vicious that virtually the entire population of the area now saw the cops as the enemy, and driving a patrol car through Old Town became for the rest of the week one of the most courageous actions a cop could perform.
Tuesday night was the night that turned the tide of opinion toward the fighters in the streets. It was the night that delegates from at least seven states went out of their way to visit Grant Park and to offer support to the demonstrators. It was the night that proved, beyond qualification, that except for the order against shooting, all restraints were off the cops.
Tuesday night was the night that proved that the demonstrators knew what they were doing when they pounded the air with the angry and derisive “Sieg Heil!” It was obvious by then that Humphrey and Daley — anticipating the “law and order” stance of Wallace and Nixon in the coming election — had decided to stake out a claim to the same territory. On Tuesday night, Chicago was militarized.
And on Tuesday night, Lincoln Park and Grant Park came together. From now on, in occupied Chicago, there was one Resistance.
II. To The Spoilers Belong The Victor
PROTESTED ALEX ROSENBERG, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from the Sovereign state of New York, after being frisked for the seventh time and having his credentials checked for the sixteenth time, upon which he refused because all of this madness had obtained by the second day of a scheduled five-day convention:
“I wasn’t convicted and sent here! I was elected!”
Daley ran the convention as tightly as he runs his city, which has few air leaks. For instance delegate Shirley McLaine may have been a little surprised at having her hand-bag searched by a cop, but then imagine the surprise of the Negro couple who had moved into an apartment in Mayor Daley’s own white neighborhood of Bridgeport and came home from a movie to find that all their furniture and personal belongings had been removed and stored in the Bridgeport police station.
Daley’s formula is that force follows policy. The policy was to have a smooth, controlled convention insulated from both Yippies and Republicans by the barbed wire guarding the stockyards amphitheatre. Thus any delegate who showed early distant warning signs of independence either had his microphone cut off or was maneuvered, or shoved, or on occasion slugged, into a position where waves or tiny ripples could not be made.
(Despite hysterical security precautions, the convention actually was inefficiently guarded. Two members of the RAMPARTS reporting team, for instance, saw Roy Cohn, the registered Democrat, sitting in Senator McCarthy’s private box (that’s Senator Eugene McCarthy) and were able to sit there, too, within spitting distance of Hubert Humphrey as he gave his acceptance speech. And two New York movement boys who were being sought by Chicago police as “troublemakers” were spirited into the convention hall by members of the New Mexico delegation Thursday night. Dressed in workshirts and blue jeans, the boys sat in full view in the galleries during Humphrey’s speech.)
Just as it is easier to bemoan the police brutality and forget about the corrupt men at the convention endorsing the obscene war policies of an already publicly discredited president, one should not make the mistake of assuming that Daley’s control of the proceedings in the Amphitheatre was only fist deep.
To summarize, the convention was an elaborate shuck, controlled in large part from the banks of the Pedernales. But there was no reason for President Johnson to do anything as transparent as call his men to Texas to reason together. He had the convention wired between Postmaster General Marvin Watson’s secret LBJ command post on the 21st floor of the Hilton (which was staffed by such Johnson operatives as Jack Valenti and Joseph Califano, and Bill McSweeney, former publicity director of the national committee and now chief press officer for the post office). and Mayor Daley’s fifth floor office in Chicago’s City Hall with its special Irish-green telephone.
Should anyone doubt Daley’s pivotal position in the party, it should be recalled that the Chicago Mayor both handed John Kennedy the nomination in 1960 and — by all recent studies — stole the election for him by juggling the vote in Chicago precincts to give Kennedy his hair-breadth win in Illinois and the electoral edge over Nixon. A very large percentage of the money going each year to the coffers of
the Democratic National Committee comes out of Chicago, and Mayor Daley is very important to Chicago big businessmen. (See RAMPARTS, September 7, 1968)
The circle of control was completed in John B. Criswell, treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, who was the convention’s executive director, and who is Johnson’s man. (Bills for the 21st floor operation went directly to Criswell.) When Criswell had a question about what to do next. he called Marvin Watson who, if a higher decision was necessary, called Johnson in Texas. Unlike the Cabots, presumably the Johnson chain of command stops there.
With the exception of maverick California, the big state machines — spearheaded by Daley’s Illinois — were safely in Establishment control, and the only other unknown was the South, which was following the lead of Texas Governor John Connally.
Thus there was hardly any need for the delegates to convene. Humphrey was slated to get the nomination as long as Johnson got what he wanted out of the convention — which was, above all, a platform endorsement of his war and a candidate so hog-tied to it that if he wins Johnson can take it as a vindication of his policies.
So the only real question was whether Humphrey would stay in line, although the expectation could hardly have been otherwise. The vice president hasn’t been his own man since the first time LBJ made him go swimming nude in the White House pool.
The Johnson forces, however, took no chances. LBJ even had a fail-safe scenario, embodied in a secret memorandum circulated to six key Democratic Party officials in June, which outlined a late ballot strategy for the renomination of Johnson if Humphrey should fall by the wayside, or stop taking orders.
Nothing that drastic was required, however. When Humphrey showed signs of a dovish switch on the Vietnam plan, Governor Connally put on the pressure by announcing that he was considering placing President Johnson’s name in nomination again — with the clear implication that most of the South’s 330 votes would pull away from Humphrey. Just two days later, Humphrey changed his position and assumed a very hard line on Vietnam.
Johnson’s men kept a close watch on Humphrey right to the end. At 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night, before the scheduled voting on the Vietnam plank the next afternoon, Marvin Watson took the slow Hilton elevator from the 21st floor up to Humphrey’s suite on the 25th floor to give the vice president a minor scolding. Watson said he had heard “disturbing rumors” that some Humphrey supporters were visiting delegates and arguing that their man needed a moderate Vietnam plank to hold the party together and have a chance of winning. Watson said that he hoped that news wasn’t true, because it would make the president “very upset,” and would also effect how much money the campaign would get from the AFL-CIO.
The only other “independent” move Humphrey made at the convention was to publicly support the attack on the unit rule, a reform which the South, of course, opposed. This was the very least he could do to boost his evaporating liberal image, although it is doubtful at this point if his liberal credentials would gain him passage into the ADA men’s room.
But RAMPARTS Washington editor, Lee Webb, who covered the rules committee, learned that the vice president was double dealing even on that issue. Despite his public position, Humphrey dispatched several supporters — including Congressman James C. Wright of Texas — to privately tell delegates that Humphrey’s position was really against the rules change. Wright sent a telegram to 15 Humphrey sympathizers on the Rules Committee asking them to a morning meeting in Private Dining Room №1 of the Hilton (coffee and rolls were provided). Wright passed out an unsigned four-page memorandum to those attending which argued that McCarthy’s proposed reforms were too “radical” and that the unit rule should be saved.
Humphrey is particularly vulnerable to the pressures of powerful men such as Daley and Johnson because he is without sufficient resources or a competent staff to run a campaign or even manage an independent effort to gain the nomination.
Unlike Johnson and Kennedy, Humphrey is not a millionaire, and his salary does not allow him the large political staffs that men of more independent means can maintain. He has been forced to take pot luck on staffers through the years, and has had more than an average degree of scandal related to the ambitious young men he hires to staff his office and run the agencies over which he has had control.
The political judgement of Humphrey’s staff has been particularly inept. His advisors sent him into the West Virginia primary in 1960 confident of victory, only to be smashed by the Kennedy machine. The vice president was encouraged to push a Marshall plan for the cities, and Johnson publicly attacked his judgement. At the Chicago convention, his staff made a real botch of the unit rule maneuvering — so bad, in fact, that some Southern governors are now furious at Humphrey because they feel he told the liberals one thing — that he was for ending the unit rule, then privately told members of the Rules Committee he wouldn’t push the reform, and then sent at least two representatives — former head of the Small Business Administration Eugene Foley and New York investment banker J. Schwamm — to privately lobby with delegates in support of the rules challenge.
THAT ACCOUNTS FOR JUST about everybody but Teddy Kennedy, who was up to his own thing at Chicago. Like many young men, Teddy was looking toward the future — especially 1972. The entire Kennedy strategy at the convention — including the brief-lived Teddy for President boomlet — was to build up points for the ’72 nomination, and for the take-over of the party machinery after November 7 if Humphrey loses — as both Steve Smith and Ted Sorensen are convinced he will.
The Kennedys had to be sure, however, that McCarthy would not get the nomination by some freak. That was the motivation behind the stalking horse candidacy of Senator George McGovern, to whom the Kennedy command post had assigned Arthur Schlesinger, Pierre Salinger and Frank Mankiewicz.
The Kennedy people further hindered McCarthy’s maneuverability by creating an alliance for the minority peace plank — a move which cut into McCarthy’s delegate-gaining momentum by joining his single strongest issue in a popular front. The speakers’ roster for the minority plank was heavily weighted with Kennedy men, a point which greatly irritated Senator McCarthy. When McCarthy called Richard Goodwin to ask why more of their people weren’t speaking, Goodwin replied that the issue should be kept “non-partisan.”
But the most effective kill-McCarthy gambit of all was the rumor factory that manufactured the Teddy for President thing. The word that Teddy might be draftable was all that was needed to end whatever torturous progress McCarthy was making in garnering delegates. The underlying psychological assumption behind the excitement over a late blooming Kennedy candidacy was that Teddy would be a winner — when he said, finally, no in public, it was all over.
By now McCarthy saw the situation, too, and sometime late Monday night or early the next morning he talked on the telephone to Senator Kennedy in Massachusetts. McCarthy told Kennedy that — if Kennedy would become a formal candidate — he would drop out of the race and release his delegates with a suggestion that they vote for Kennedy. Kennedy said he would not be a candidate under any circumstances. The conversation was short and to the point, and although some men inside the Kennedy winners’ circle now claim that McCarthy made the phone call in desperation and asked Teddy to take him on as Secretary of State in his administration, there was no such discussion between the two Senators.
The precise origin of the Teddy boom is unclear, but it is a chicken-or-egg question. Both the Kennedy and Daley forces wanted it for their own manipulative reasons. Steve Smith, running the show for Teddy out of the Standard Club, an exclusive Chicago Jewish men’s club, wanted it secondarily as overkill insurance against McCarthy.
Daley, who three weeks before the convention had the nomination sewed up for Humphrey — (as long as the vice president didn’t blow it by playing at independence) — wanted to get Ted Kennedy on the ticket as vice president because he was worried over Humphrey’s poor pulling power in Illinois. (Daley’s second choice was Muskie. because of the large Polish bloc vote in Chicago.) So Daley played a waiting game — sucking California’s Jesse Unruh in on a draft Teddy movement — in the hopes that Teddy would blunder into formally announcing for president — and thus be unable to refuse the veep position. Daley lost on that one, but by waiting until the last minute to throw Illinois support to Humphrey he maintained the illusion that the convention might be open. after all, and created enough confusion to obscure Humphrey’s sell-out strategy of accommodation with the Southern delegations.
Of course, kissing the collective ass of the Southern delegates was not a phenomenon exclusive to the unprincipled Humphrey. McCarthy aide Richard Goodwin, trained in manipulation under the Kennedys’ visited Texas Governor John Connally and tried to talk him into accepting second spot on the ticket with McCarthy. Goodwin was still hustling after McCarthy lost, too. He visited Humphrey in the vice-president’s 25th floor headquarters in the Hilton on Thursday and assured Humphrey that if,
after a while. he began to move away from the platform position on Vietnam he could virtually count on McCarthv’s support later in the campaign. Goodwin also assured Humphrey that McCarthy would have nothing to do with any fourth party movement.
Another disturbing incident which ocurred in the closing days of the McCarthy campaign was the instruction given folk singer Phil Ochs — who had been singing at McCarthy rallies for months — by middle-echelon McCarthy aides that he should stay away from the campaign because he would hurt the Senator’s chances of nomination. When Ochs asked what he had done, he was told that he had called both Mayor Daley and Vice President Humphrey -assholes” at a public meeting and that word of the remark had gotten back to Daley, whom McCarthy still hoped to swing to his side.
But the Daley-Johnson control of the convention was absolute. They even had it literally wired for sound. Before the convention opened Daley, according to a ranking Democrat with access to the convention’s paper work, received a memorandum from convention director John Criswell informing him that the Illinois State Police intelligence division had completed arrangements for bugging every state delegation — and all the major news media.
(Before RAMPARTS learned of the existence of this memorandum and of the extensive bugging of the convention facilities by Daley, a two-man team of intelligence operatives was dicovered by RAMPARTS staff writer Steve Chain operating electronic eavesdropping equipment in the room next to Editorial Director Warren Hinckle’s suite in the Ambassador West Hotel.)
The final equation in the story of this outrageously rigged convention is the naivety of many professional political writers who, in “interpreting” the convention, opined that Humphrey was operating free and clear of Johnson and had been dealing independently with the South, and argued that Daley was irrelevent since Humphrey had the votes, anyway.
This is clearly nonsense since, for one thing, if the vice president were home free he would never have risked splitting the party by going for a hard line Vietnam plan. Humphrey, in fact, had no more than a minimal number of votes that were not owned outright by Johnson and Daley, and he had no choice — since his style is to dance to the tune of more powerful men — but to go along with what they wanted. This of course explains Humphrey’s almost banal support of Major Daley’s goon squad tactics at the convention and in the streets of Chicago. This last proved the breaking point for many delegates on Wednesday night who were asked to carry out the program of nominating Humphrey on the first ballot as the television carried pictures of the Chicago cops brutalizing young demonstrators in front of the Hilton Hotel at the same time Daley’s strong-arm tactics were being employed right there on the convention floor. But moves to delay the presidential voting — or adjourn the convention — were simply ignored and Humphrey’s nomination went according to plan.
So Hubert Humphrey is the victor — only in this case. the victor belongs to the spoilers of the Democratic Party.
[CAUCUSES: NEW YORK]
ON WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 28, in Caucus Room #2 at the Amphitheatre in Chicago, the New York State delegation met in closed caucus to count heads for presidential preferences. Such a caucus is generally one of the most closely guarded secrets of the inner workings of our American electoral political system, but fortunately, a member of the RAMPARTS task force at Chicago, Sydney Schanberg, in real life the Albany bureau chief of the New York Times, was able to secrete himself in the back of the room. One most fortunate aspect of Mr. Schanberg’s presence in that room is that it allows the general reader and perhaps some better-known television newscasters to realize that the current decision-making process — which civics classes and the press take so seriously — is in reality atavistic, chaotic, eccentric and intellectually and politically irresponsible, principally because of the hacks and occasional downright know-nothings who constitute the bulk of the typical state delegation. That is a general statement, but in the case of New York it is also specific. Mr. Schanberg’s report follows:
The convention’s afternoon session had just ended, during which the anti-war minority plank on Vietnam had been buried. The convention’s evening session was to begin in about 90 minutes, at about 6:30 p.m., when the roll call for presidential voting would be the order of business. Most of the New York delegates had trooped dutifully back into the second floor caucus room, but a small group of delegates were still on the convention floor singing, in concert with other anti-war delegates, We Shall Overcome,” in protest against the pro-administration plank.
But then in walked the chairman, John J. Burns, a large. friendly, bear-sized man who was in a difficult political position. Burns is a protege of the late Robert Kennedy who had exerted — by the awesomeness of his reputation for ruthlessness — some measure of authority over the normally out-of-hand feifdoms and duchies of New York’s big county leaders: Stanley Steingut of Brooklyn, Frank Rossetti of Manhattan (who rules the corpse that was once the powerful Tammany machine), Henry McDonough of the Bronx (successor to Boss [Charles] Buckley, a friend of the Kennedys), Moses Weinstein of Queens. Joseph F. Crangle of Erie County (Buffalo), William Luddy of Westchester, and John F. English of Nassau.
But by virtue of the assassination, Burns is almost powerless in the party now and must do essentially what he is told by the county bosses. For instance, last Saturday, under extreme pressure from the bosses and key members of the Humphrey camp who made it clear that Burns’ $30,000 a year party job was at stake, the former Kennedy confidant endorsed Humphrey for President.
When Burns came into the room, Stanley Lowell, an alternate delegate and former chairman of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, was passing out eight-inch-wide “I am a Humphrey delegate” buttons from a Humphrey shopping bag.
Burns ruled out any speech-making on behalf of the presidential candidates and said the purpose of the caucus evening when New York was polled.
But for the next 20 minutes, the delegates entertained themselves with the following questions:
(1) If a delegate is not present. can his alternate vote for him?
(2) If the alternate casts the vote, can the delegate change it before the floor vote is taken?
(3) Can a delegate vote one way at the caucus and another way on the floor? and
(4) How can you take a caucus vote when you don’t know who the candidates will be, since the formal nominations will not be made until the night session?
All these questions were resolved the way any group of fifth-graders would have resolved them, except that it took the delegates longer. When the roll was finally called, it produced no surprises — the old names of the party: Steingut, Weinstein, Beame. O’Connor, Crangle, Krim, Shea and Corning were for Humphrey.
But the peace bloc had as many votes. Some Robert Kennedy men — Ted Sorensen, Bill Vanden Heuvel — voted for McGovern, and a few supported Ted Kennedy, but the hulk of the anti-war vote was with McCarthy.
Roll call had been in progress for about ten minutes when a ruckus broke out at the door. The peace delegates who had been singing on the convention floor were trying to get in and vote, and a plainclothes security guard blocked their entry.
“Hey, he’s pushing them around,” said a pro-peace delegate.
“They should have had the courtesy to he here on time,” complained a pro-war delegate.
Burns, fearful of a full-blown fight in the delegation which had been tensed by the demonstrations and the police show of force in the streets, tried to calm the war-peace waters.
“Please, please, we’ve had a good meeting, let’s keep it that way. I’m sure we won’t have any more trouble.”
The stranded delegates were let in and the roll call concluded. Then, Representative James Scheuer, a reform Democrat from the Bronx, stood up and stirred up a lot more trouble:
“This place has all the trappings of a police state,” he said. “Members of the press and members of the public have been subjected to unprovoked physical attack. There is an all-pervasive anonymous police presence in this city with police agents removing their identification and refusing to say who they are.”
As Scheuer went on denouncing Daley’s police state, the “regulars” in the delegation were growing visibly incensed. When Scheuer finished with his denunciation of the police state, he then suggested that a committee l formed to head off any similar police abuses at the 1972 convention, wherever that might he. Choruses of “Sit down, sit down,” thundered at him from the floor. Then a Brooklyn regular, one Monroe Cohen, who had been demanding the floor, got it, but only with the help of Steineut, who demanded that Burns “let the gentleman from Brooklyn speak.”
Literally shrieking, Cohen said, “Congressman Scheuer did not here document one single instance of police abuse. The only reason he made his motion is that this morning as we were getting on the bus in front of the Sheraton Chicago (headquarters of the New York delegation) to come to the convention, he was asked by a very polite detective in the presence of Erastus Corning (the Albany mayor) and others to show his identification.
“I don’t know how you feel about it, but before I left for Chicago, my family was genuinely concerned over my well-being. (Cheers of agreement erupted from the regulars.) I have no complaint with the respect and courtesy we’ve been accorded.
At that point Burns broke in to call for a voice vote on the move Cohen of Brooklyn had made to table the Scheuer motion. Burns decided by the decibel count that the ayes had won and the regulars stood and cheered. In fact, the nays sounded to the untrained observer as loud as the ayes, but it was very clear what votes the regulars wanted to hear, and Burns went along.
Burns then announced the results of the roll call vote — Humphrey 911/2 , McCarthy 89, McGovern 2, Teddy Kennedy 21/2 , with five delegates missing.
OF ALL THE COBWEBBY and Gothic figures dimly glimpsed on flickering screens across the country, the most truly representative of his state’s Democratic Party (always excepting the barely post-Jurassic Mayor Daley) was sepulchral-voiced Mayor Joseph Barr of Pittsburgh, the national committeeman from Pennsylvania and chairman of the Keystone State’s delegation at Chicago.
His was the voice that solemnly intoned a two-and-a-half-to-one pro-Establishment vote on every roll call, no-table only for its occasional injection of a quarter-vote (on the peace plank, 921/4 against, 351/2 for), so that it was no surprise on Wednesday night when Humphrey came up with 1033/4 of the state’s 130 votes.
What nobody explained on the telly was how this could come to pass when on April 23, in the state’s primary, the combined Johnson-Humphrey vote was 72,263 against 65,430 for Robert Kennedy . . . and an overwhelming 428,259 for Eugene McCarthy.
Given the existence of a willful minority of Democratic bison fighting to preserve themselves from summary extinction at the hands of the Democratic masses, Pennsylvania provides a sterling example of how politicians control a delegation, no matter whom the people may want.
First of all, 130 votes doesn’t mean 130 delegates. The number of votes each state gets is set by the rules and depends on congressional representation, but the maximum number of delegates is determined by the Democratic National Committee according to a highly complex formula, and assigned early in January. In Pennsylvania’s case, no more than 160 voting delegates would get to cast the 130 votes (they got to bring 130 alternates, which makes as much sense as the rest of this procedure).
It’s up to the state, however, to decide how to choose its delegates and how to apportion its votes among them. In Pennsylvania, the law says that before any candidate can circulate nominating petitions, the state committee shall appoint a proportion of convention “delegates at large.” This year, on January 22, the state committee appointed 52 such delegates before anybody was a legal candidate.
The charmingly archaic idea behind this provision is that the delegates will be uncommitted, because nobody knows who’s going to run. In practice, of course, that’s nonsense. On January 22 everybody knew it would be Lyndon Johnson, and everybody in Pennsylvania knew that the party leaders would pick delegates accordingly.
Along with Barr, the Pennsylvania bosses are Mayor James Tate of Philadelphia; former Gov. George Leader; State Treasurer and Party Chairman Thomas Minehart; and Philadelphia Congressman William Green, whose father used to run the town and help run the state.
All of these were of course themselves appointed (except for Barr, who as national committeeman gets in free as a delegate). The other 48 included Steelworkers’ president I. W. Abel, a Johnson stalwart, and a long list of federal and state hacks including onetime national fundraising chairman Matthew McCloskey. Among the few relatively good guys were Milton Shapp, whose first political move was to swipe the nomination for governor a few years ago (he was defeated by incumbent Republican Raymond Shafer) and Senator Joseph Clark, a caustic, anachronistic dove in the Pennsylvania eyrie.
That’s 52 delegates, which leaves 108 to be elected at the April primary — four from each of the state’s 27 congressional districts. This is the same election in which McCarthy got three times as many votes as everybody else put together.
BUT THAT DOESN’T mean that he got three out of four of the remaining delegates. The presidential primary — although a lot of Pennsylvanians don’t realize it, since the bisons carefully don’t explain it to them — has no legal force whatsoever. It’s supposed to tell those 52 at-large delegates something, but you can guess how much of the message they got.
The delegates to be elected are listed separately on the ballot — and there’s no way to tell from the ballot which candidate any of them supports. Consequently, there’s no way for the ordinary voter to know whether he’s voting for McCarthy with one hand and for a slate of reactionary delegates with the other. Obviously nobody understands: despite the large size of the vote, the total vote for delegates was about one-third lower than the total vote for presidential candidates.
So, on April 23, in came another 108 delegates, and a clear message to all 130. According to Pennsylvania newsman James Higgins, writing in The Nation (August 19), “Only one of the fifty-two … has announced that the primary vote for McCarthy, and for McCarthy’s program, will lead him to cast his vote for McCarthy at the convention.” The one was Milton Shapp.
Of the 108 electees, only 24 ran as supporters of McCarthy (there were 69 other candidates for delegation seats who supported McCarthy, and the fight was waged in 21 of the 27 congressional districts, so the disparity — and the obvious ignorance of the voters — is even more apparent).
But the bisons weren’t through. Not content with having 52 delegates already, and with having conned the voters out of 84 of the other 108 seats, the Tate-Barr operation then announced how the 130 votes would be split 160 ways.
Of the 52 appointees who date from the time when Lyndon Johnson was still politically alive, 42 got full votes, the other ten got half votes. That leaves 83. The national committeeman and committeewoman got a full vote each. That leaves 81 votes to distribute among 108 delegates. The rest of the formula calls for a computer, but now you know where those quarter-votes were coming from.
Even that didn’t satisfy the dying bulls of the herd. On the challenge to the Texas delegation, for example, Barr gave the Pennsylvania vote as 98 no, 28 yes. Quick action by the state’s McCarthy chairman, Michael Malin, forced a poll, and under the watchful eyes of Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell, it turned out to be 803/4 to 4214 . Congressman Green deserted the leadership to vote for the challengers, along with Senator Clark and some of the state’s legislative leaders. Green was hoping for a Kennedy draft and was maneuvering for position just in case.
The events in the streets — despite the tight control of the delegation by Tate and Barr in the amphitheatre — reached the Pennsylvania delegation too. As the convention ended, former Governor Leader was moved to propose a collection for bail for the arrested demonstrators; he was joined by Clark, and although many of Leader’s associates set up an uproar, $2400 was collected.
Feelings ran high within the delegation, but nobody went home happy; privately, concession of the state to Nixon in November was unanimous. Leader and Green are looking forward to edging out Tate and Barr for control of the party, but they’ll be just about as democratic — small “d” — in their turn. After all, they were in on the numbers game this time.
[MISSOURI: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HAWKS CAUCUS]
MISSOURI’S GOVERNOR Warren E. Hearnes once looked as if he might be applying for credentials as a dove.
A native of the southeast Missouri “boot heel” and a West Point graduate, Hearnes moved up from the State Senate four years ago on an anti-Establishment platform. Early this year, he surprised a lot of people at the National Governors’ Conference by attacking the Johnson administration. And as the Missouri state convention approached, it looked like favorite son Hearnes — as a play for a spot on a Kennedy-Hearnes ticket.
But Hearnes didn’t pass the dove test after all. He didn’t like Robert Kennedy, and has never liked McCarthy or the type of Missouri Democrat likely to be a McCarthy supporter. By the time the state convention arrived, Hearnes had not only come down for Humphrey, but was ready to move for a unit rule to make sure that the vice president got all 60 votes. Kennedy and McCarthy supporters beat that movement down, but they couldn’t do anything about the makeup of the delegation — mostly political bankers or political lawyers or political restaurant owners who could buck Hearnes only at the risk of facing some cold Missouri winters.
The vote on the presidential nomination, which could have been counted weeks before, was Humphrey 56, McCarthy 31/2, and a (black) half vote for Channing Phillips.
Hearnes and his state chairman, Delton Houtchins, had a tougher time over Vietnam. In the closed Missouri caucus, Teamsters Union Vice President Harold Gibbons — one of Hearnes’ solid Humphrey delegates — announced that he was for the peace plank.
Gibbons — who had previously agreed with UAW President Walter Reuther on the idea — said that he had offered himself as a peace plank speaker if they wanted him, against “the destroying of the freedom that America is supposed to stand for.”
Hearnes frowned a little and countered with former aide Eugene Walsh, who gave a bland defense of the platform committee’s plank. Then, suddenly, Senator Stuart Symington decided to melt the delegation’s solid flesh.
As former secretary of the Air Force, Symington can hardly be called anti-military, and he has supported the administration after several trips to Vietnam. He pointed that out — and then went on to say that he had talked to bomber pilots agonizing over having bombed targets with-out military value. He talked about corruption in the South Vietnamese government, and its autocracy.
There was some more argument — Hearnes saved himself for last. saying cops and troops are needed to maintain law and order, and added that we had beaten the Germans and ought to be able to beat the Vietnamese — and then the vote. Hearnes insisted on a roll call, admitting that on the credentials fight he had invented the figure 40 and 12 because he couldn’t get an accurate count.
St. Louis County Chairman Dr. Martin S. Greenberg voted for the majority, although he had argued in discussion for the peace plank. St. Louis attorney Morris Shenker, a longtime Establishment politician, fooled some people by voting for the peace plank. Shenker was more typical; the vote came out to a surprising 36 for the administration, 17 for the peace plank, with seven absent.
But they took their time “tallying,” while Sid Salomon and Doc Lawler went to work. Sidney Salomon Jr. owns the St. Louis Blues, a hockey team, and was finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee under Harry Truman; an old pro, he’s the new national committeeman. John J. Lawler isn’t a doctor despite his nickname; he’s an official of the Steamfitters’ Union who dispenses a lot of political spending money.
They were still “tallying” when Burleigh Arnold, a bank official, asked for the floor. His Central Missouri State Bank used to get most of the state funds for deposit in the “Establishment” that Hearnes beat in 1964. Now, Arnold said that he had been late, that he had voted for the peace plank without reading the two planks side by side. He changed his vote. Immediately, Morris Shenker said, he too, had re-read the planks. Hearnes announced the count as 38–15 with seven absent.
“It would be a mistake,” he added smoothly, “ to tell the press that this is the count, because delegates have all the rest of the day and tonight . . .”
Mary Epstein, a gentle blonde from Columbia, Mo., entered politics because McCarthy did. She got on the McCarthy state committee, was elected an alternate delegate from her congressional district, and in the August primary beat out the regulars to become committeewoman. “Jesus Christ,” she was saying after the caucus, “you mean this is how the system actually operates? I can’t stand it.” She was very near tears. When the vote was announced that night, it was 50–10.
THE CONVERSATION was between two union leaders, so one could expect it to be earthy and frank. But it was hardly between two equals, and the other men in the Chicago hotel room were surprised to hear it socked to Walter Reuther just that way:
“Don’t give us that bullshit about a possible compromise. Humphrey will be a hawk all the way.” That was Paul Schrade, west coast director of the United Auto Workers, talking to his boss, Walter Reuther, who had just told his people that he was attempting to work out a compromise, more dovish Vietnam plank with his candidate, Hubert Horatio Humphrey.
Reuther’s instructions to some 60 UAW delegates to the Democratic Convention had been equivocal, if not contradictory: “Talk only about a compromise, and don’t make waves.”
Schrade, the first major west coast union leader to speak out strongly against the war, was clearly impatient withsuch temporizing. “Labor has done its worst here at the convention,” Schrade told Reuther, “and I’m referring to George Meany, specifically.”
To call George Meany, the sour-puss head of the AFL-CIO, a cold warrior is to call Max Rafferty a conservative. Meany’s leadership, together with other rightists, America firsters, and embittered Social Democrats high in the leadership ranks of the American labor movement, has sufficed to drag labor’s position on international affairs two steps back for every half step forward, which makes its foreign policy as sophisticated as that of the 1918 anti-Bolshevism of Woodrow Wilson.
Meany, friends say, dreams at night about kicking his man Hubert upstairs to the Oval Room and drools about it in the daytime. He has even appointed his own special hawk, Al Barkan, to attend policy planning sessions in Humphrey’s inner circle of advisors. But that was about all the evil memories of Reuther that Schrade had time for on that convention Tuesday. He was off to chair a Labor For McCarthy luncheon, organized to counter-attack a Humphrey luncheon which Meany had made a command performance for some 350 labor leaders the day before. And when combined rumors of a possible peace plank and a boomlet for Teddy Kennedy set some labor men to thinking independently, Meany reinforced his position with a hastily arranged “panic button” meeting Tuesday morning at which United Steel Workers’ I. W. Abel drilled the union leaders in Meany’s hard line. Joseph Keenan, secretary-treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, confused some of the unionists that morning by charging that “the enemy is getting neo-fascist money.” Nobody knew whether he was referring to Nixon or McCarthy, or whomever. He never explained.
Schrade had personal reasons for chairing a lunch supporting a candidate who opposed the war. He was walking with Robert Kennedy through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles when the assassin’s bullets struck the senator. Schrade himself was seriously injured in the attack.
Schrade’s chairing of the McCarthy luncheon in the Essex Motor Inn was his first public appearance since getting out of the hospital. At those tables a good cross-section of labor’s liberal wing was lined up, and a tiny, though somewhat mighty, liberal wing it is. The split in the UAW’s own ranks — its executive committee recently refused to endorse Mr. Humphrey, despite pressure from Walter Reuther — was demonstrated by the fact that both Schrade and Walter’s brother, Victor Reuther, and former Reuther aide Jack Conway were also there. So was Amalgamated Clothing Workers’ Association (ACWA) head, Frank Rosenbaum; the teamsters’ Harold Gibbons; and Dave Livingston, head of the big New York District # 65 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is spelled for convenience RWDSU. This assembly of liberal union leaders was an outgrowth of the National Labor Leadership Assembly for peace which was convened in Chicago last year, but which has had trouble mobilizing any effective strength in the face of the rightist AFL-CIO.
In its stampede to boost Humphrey, the AFL-CIO has, as it has done in other ideological situations in the past, hurt its friends and rewarded its enemies, and incidentally, weakened the position of the workers whose interests it is supposed to represent. The most recent and one of the most outrageous examples of such conduct came during Meany’s big push for Humphrey when the AFL-CIO forces at the credentials challenges backed the hand-picked delegation of antideluvian Texas Governor John Connally against the claim of liberal Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough. The senator, who has done many favors for labor as chairman of the Senate Labor Subcommittee — was asking 48 per cent representation for his rank and file group of whites, blacks and Mexican-Americans. Yarborough’s challenge lost by about 400 votes, with the AFL-CIO lobbying the difference.
“I don’t like the way labor stomped on me last night,” Yarborough told unionists at the McCarthy luncheon. “The only way I got into the convention hall is because I’m a senator. The rest of our delegation had to watch it [the convention] on television.”
Another labor leader who, like Schrade, was with Senator Kennedy the night he was shot was perky Dolores Huerta of California’s Farm Workers’ Organizing Committee. She gauged the effect of a sluggish and right-of-center labor leadership on her struggle: “We have been on strike two years,” she said, “and we could have been killed as a union if it weren’t for the support from people like you in this room. But two years . . . we could have won it by now if only all of labor really got behind us.
“We have had some high hopes. for the farm workers. But then I came into Chicago, and I ask myself, how can we expect anything for the brown people of America when we find ourselves in an armed camp in the city of Chicago?”
She began to cry before she could finish, and sat down in tears.
Meanwhile, the band played on. Lumpy George Meany batonned the labor delegates through their convention two-steps with finesse, but the whole tawdry affair between Meany and Humphrey was conducted with all the awkward display of cool exhibited by a couple who have been having an affair for ten years but still think nobody-knows.
To maintain the fiction that labor was not improperly manipulating and blackjacking the convention in favor of Meany’s number one Man, COPE’s Alexander Barkan ran the Humphrey drive in seclusion from an unmarked suite on the 22nd floor of the Hilton. Barkan, who was once described by an associate as a former right-wing Social Democrat,” which to many is just about as right as one can go, also cracked labor’s whip from a front-line command post on the convention floor.
The Democratic National Committee gave the AFL-CIO five floor passes (each presidential candidate received 20), thus providing the vice-president with extra arm-twisters on the convention turf. Barkan had a half-dozen labor officials operating on the floor at all times, communicating through walkie-talkies and mobile telephones carried in handbags. Defections in the ranks of labor and labor-influenced (meaning owing favors) delegates were quickly spotted and corrected, since the federation’s 221 delegates and alternates were spread throughout 44 state delegations — affording the ever-watchful Meany a. hand in every major state caucus.
As if its treacherous role in the Texas challenge was not sufficiently insidious, the AFL-CIO leadership — which apparently would have voted Republican to help Hubert Humphrey — had the nerve to assign its civil rights director, Don Slaiman, to assist in the fight to seat “loyalist” Alabama.
In another damn-the-torpedoes for Humphrey move. the AFL-CIO’s southern civil rights director told the Credentials Committee that the challenge to the racist Georgia delegation, led by Julian Bond, was the work of “outside agitators.”
At one time in our history, that phrase was employed against the laboring man seeking to redress his grievances, but it is now the favorite catch-all of people so fat and happy that their nerve endings no longer register when they sit on others. If that isn’t a fair description of the state of the Democratic labor hierarchy, then let it go up for arbitration.
[CAUCUSES : THE BLACKS]
FAR FROM THE DOWNTOWN HOTELS in the heart of the Loop and the floor of the Amphitheatre, in the midst of Chicago’s South Side ghetto, in a YMCA meeting room, a dance ballroom, and a church, the fight over black America’s political direction was being waged by the Democratic Conventions “black caucus.”
The front page news in Chicago hit only on two major struggles: between the kids and pigs for control of the streets and the parks on the one hand; and between the Humphrey regulars and the McCarthy insurgents for control over the Democratic Party on the other. Few reporters noticed that a fight of equal consequence was waging, the fight over the political direction of black America.
The major partisans in this fight left Chicago satisfied with a few victories. Although repudiated by his former friends, Bayard Rustin, the one-time organizer of the March on Washington and now a close ally of Hubert Humphrey and the Democratic National Committee, was happy that a black repudiation of the Democratic Party and an endorsement of McCarthy were prevented. He knew that HHH could count on most black delegates, however reluctant they were to support Humphrey (and liberalism) against Nixon in November.
Another group, the “movement oriented” blacks (Bond, Belafonte, Coretta King, Young, Abernathy. etc.) knew they had won some victories, too. The blacks may not be free of the Democratic Party, but, at least, their support is no longer a preordained conclusion. Moreover, the movement blacks helped to prevent an endorsement of Humphrey, aided in repudiating Rustin’s moderate pro-Democratic Party leadership, and forced black politicians like Representative John Conyers and Richard Hatcher of Gary, into more militant positions.
However, the real victors in Chicago were the “new breed” of black politicians who successfully rode a tiger — black resentment of the Democratic Party, McCarthy and Humphrey — into a position which they hope will guarantee them power and influence inside the Democratic Party. To do that they blocked Bayard Rustin, a major competitor for the role of “broker,” by attacking him for being a “mouthpiece” for the party, and yet they prevented “movement-oriented” blacks from organizing a walkout from the party.
How long men like John Conyers, a black congressman from Detroit; Willie Brown, a black assemblyman from San Francisco; or Richard Hatcher, the black mayor of Gary can ride this tiger is an open question, but at least in Chicago they made definite progress towards advancing an independent black lobby inside the Democratic Party and their own ambitious careers as well.
For the black politicians the victory was only temporary. An increasingly “law and order” conscious Democratic Party will see more and more votes to be won in ruthless suppression of the black community. What the “new breed” sees as their newfound powerful role of “broker” may be a fatal trap.
The appeal for “black unity,” an item of faith for all black leaders, will be endorsed in rhetoric but not in substance.
THE BLACK CAUCUS at the convention was born out of the Chicago meetings of the National Committee of Inquiry. It was organized in mid-June in the wake of the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. John Conyers was the initial organizer and he became one of the co-chairmen along with Coretta King, Martin Luther King’s widow. Other prominent black leaders on the Steering Committee were Julian Bond, Richard Hatcher and Harry Belafonte.
The purpose of the committee, Conyers announced in June, was to investigate the reality of black participation in the Democratic Party and to make recommendations to the black community on the presidential candidates. To that end. the committee would interview all presidential candidates.
By long distance telephone and special delivery letters, Conyers and other committee leaders enrolled hundreds of black office holders, entertainers, and movement leaders in the committee. In some cities, like Chicago and Los Angeles, local affiliates of the National Committee of Inquiry were organized. By the time of the Democratic Convention, the committee had become the most powerful political voice of the national scene of black America.
Conyers called a meeting of the National Committee of Inquiry Steering Committee for Gary, Indiana, just 20 minutes from downtown Chicago. It met on Wednesday, August 21, in the office of Richard Hatcher. The purpose of the meeting was to prepare for the meeting called for Saturday, the 24th, of the hundreds of committee members from across the country.
Soon after the meeting began, Conyers realized that the role of the National Committee of Inquiry at the convention would have to be rethought. Although all presidential candidates had been interviewed, the splits in the black community over who should be supported were unreconcilable.
The Steering Committee members knew, for instance, that Louis Martin, the head of the Division of Minorities of the Democratic National Committee, was putting the heat on black office holders to support Humphrey (or at least to hold off an endorsement of McCarthy). Both Martin and his former deputy, George Booker, now head of Minorities for Humphrey, had a powerful clout. Most black office holders depended heavily on DNC money and the aid of its staff for their campaigns. Any “treason” would be dealt with ruthlessly by Martin and Booker. Martin’s floor agent was Bayard Rustin.
The McCarthy people could count on Harry Belafonte, Julian Bond, and Coretta King to push their candidate. Although all were angry with McCarthy for his high-handed manner and seeming lack of interest in the plight of the city and the black man, his stand on the war and foreign policy made McCarthy quite superior to Humphrey. McGovern’s name was scarcely mentioned, since everyone realized he was only a front for Teddy Kennedy.
The Steering Committee adjourned on Wednesday, having realized that a presidential endorsement was impossible; but it decided to postpone a final decision until the Friday night before the National Committee meeting. In the meantime, the Steering Committee members would keep a close ear to the ground.
The Friday night meeting confirmed, to the satisfaction of the Steering Committee members present, that the splits between McCarthy and Humphrey forces were widening. An endorsement either way was clearly out of the question. In addition, a new sentiment was growing, particularly among movement-oriented blacks, for a complete repudiation of the Democratic Party. A proposal to run Richard Hatcher as an independent black candidate for President was gaining support, as was another to organize a “black out” or black boycott of the presidential election in November.
The Steering Committee agreed to recommend to the larger meeting the next day that no presidential endorsement be made and in its place a report be issued the following Monday — the first day of the Convention — criticizing all the candidates.
The National Committee of Inquiry opened its meeting the next morning in the South Side YMCA. Over 300 black people attended, including a sizeable number of black delegates who arrived early to the convention. Whites and the press were excluded from the meeting.
From the beginning, the meeting was chaotic. The Steering Committee miscalculated. The central issue among the 300 attending was not the presidential endorsement, but whether or not blacks should split from the Democratic Party.
No one spoke on the floor for either McCarthy or Humphry. Belafonte accepted the Steering Committee’s decision and did not ask for the endorsement of McCarthy. Fear might have kept some silent. “If someone spoke for Humphrey, he would have been thrown out of the hall,” one delegate said.
The overwhelming mood of the meeting was, as one attendee said, “To hell with all the candidates.” The strength of this sentiment can be gauged by the loud applause that the candidacy of Eldridge Cleaver received when his name was mentioned in the debate.
Halfway through the meeting, Conyers reported that he had learned that Bayard Rustin was organizing a “black caucus” of convention delegates on the following night.
A. Phillip Randolph, a close associate of Rustin’s, had sent out telegrams to most delegates and alternates urging them to attend a meeting at the Pick Congress Hotel, just two blocks from the Hilton, at eight o’clock Sunday evening. Everyone knew what he was up to. Rustin, one black delegate said, “wanted an endorsement of Humphrey, that’s his story.”
The National Committee of Inquiry successfully nipped Rustin’s effort in the bud by agreeing to call its own “black caucus” meeting for the following Monday. However, some Steering Committee members attended the Rustin meeting to keep an eye on things.
Rustin’s effort was sabotaged because he was considered a threat by both the black office holders and the “movement-oriented.” The black politcians thought Rustin too moderate and cautious for their taste. Rustin did not have any friends in the ranks of the “movement-oriented” blacks either. Since the March on Washington in 1967 and his increasing accommodations to the AFL-CIO and the Democratic Party leadership, suspicions have grown about his real loyalties. His attempt to channel the power of the black movement into the Democratic Party is seen as a move to “coopt and dissipate the strength of the black people in a compromise with a racist Democratic Party.”
The Sunday night meeting of the Rustin group was not a success. One black delegate described the group as the “older, more established black Democratic types.” No further attempt was made by Rustin to organize a black caucus on his terms. He was content to plan pro-Humphrey strategy with his close allies.
Not only was a black caucus organized for Monday, but, since no further meetings of the National Committee of Inquiry were called, it became the only voice of blacks at the Democratic Convention. This sophisticated move extricated the black politicians from a frightening (to them) situation. If further meetings of the Committee of Inquiry were held, the anti-Democratic Party mood would certainly have been intensified and would have made the strategy of working from inside the party increasingly difficult to defend under attack from the black radicals. A walkout from the Democratic Convention or Party, or an independent black candidate, would have been possible (in retrospect, such decisions would have been quite possible, given the police brutality and Humphrey manipulation of the convention.)
The discussions at the black caucus meetings on Monday proved that the black politicians had made the right decisions. The debate concentrated on floor strategy. A suggestion to boycott the 1968 election got a chilling response from the now overwhelming majority of black convention delegates, most of whom hoped to be re-elected or elected in November (there were 176 black delegates and 125 black alternates at the convention).
The black caucus filled a definite need, moreover, for those black delegates who believed it was useful to fight on the convention floor for the interests of black America. “I need direction. I need direction on credentials. I need direction on the platform . . pleaded a black delegate to the committee on Monday.
Members of all the challenging delegations appeared before the caucus and appealed for help on the Credentials Committee and on the floor. The caucus agreed to support all challenges.
In addition, the caucus asked selected members to prepare reports and recommendations for the meeting on Tuesday — the next day — on the Platform Rules, as well as on the Credentials Committee. Another group was asked to investigate the possibility of preparing a minority report on the platform to force the convention to discuss the plight of black Americans.
The Tuesday caucus meeting heard reports on the Platform, Credentials, and Rules Committees. The report from the Credentials Committee, which urged a unified floor strategy in support of the Southern challenges, got far more attention than those from the other committees. One observer attributed this to a reluctance of the top black politicians to be known by the white leaders of the party as “troublemakers.” Another observer attributed it to “apathy,” since everyone realized how futile resistance to the Humphrey machine was.
The black politicians were worried about having to vote on the presidential nomination. Few wanted to vote for Humphrey, but few could afford voting against him. One suggestion — to boycott the nomination — had a number of the militant black politicians behind it.
Interest, however, at the Tuesday meeting began to focus on running Channing Phillips as a favorite son. Phillips, a not very radical black minister from Washington, D.C., was the leader of the D.C. delegation, a mixture of Kennedy supporters, McCarthy supporters and black and white radicals. As a gesture of protest (and because the delegation could not agree to support McCarthy), they decided, in fact to run Channing Phillips as a favorite son.
With Phillips already assured a floor nomination and substantial votes, the black politicians embraced him as an alternative to voting for or against Humphrey.
With Rustin out of the picture (“Rustin’s day is past,” said one committee member), an evaluation of Chicago indicates that the coming battle in the black community will be between the “new breed” of militant black politicians who want to advance black Americans with the Democratic Party and the movement-oriented blacks who see the Democratic Party as racist.
III. The Fourth Party Is In The Streets
CHICAGO’S CONRAD HILTON HOTEL IS not one of those aluminum-and-glass slabs that seem to go with the name, but a massive and unfriendly dark hulk that might, except for its hyped-up street-level facade, be expected to contain the offices of third-rate attorneys and one-man import-export operators. Inside ifs something else.
The ground-floor lobby, carpeted in a rich red, the color of peach bloom, is divided by banks of shops into a bewildering maze. Just inside the Michigan Avenue entrance, twin wide staircases sweep up to the right and left, inviting the visitor to the mezzanine and ultimately to the Grand Ballroom.
It was in this ballroom that the important press conferences were held, for the Hilton was convention headquarters. The very important had the Michigan Avenue rooms, from which they could look out across the avenue to the lake shoreline that is the pride of Chicago planners: Grant Park, then Lakeshore Drive partly hidden by trees (and, from the street level. a rise of ground), then more grass and then the lake.
In the thousands of rooms were housed the Humphrey and McCarthy command posts (and those two candidates themselves), the staff of the Democratic National Committee, the press credentials committees, the Texas delegation, and hundreds of reporters. The entire 21st floor was commandeered by Postmaster General Marvin Watson for a possible last-minute re-entry by Lyndon Johnson.
The telephones didn’t work, the air conditioning didn’t work, the hotel’s valet services were cut off and the elevator was so slow and crowded as to be almost useless. So of course that’s where everybody wanted to be.
There was, as there should be in a convention headquarters hotel, an air of excitement, almost exhilaration, at the beginning. Much of it came from the bustling air of the young McCarthy workers, who seemed to number in the thousands and who constantly moved through the complex lobby on the multitudinous errands of campaigning, cheering their candidate whenever he entered or left, seeming still to carry the enthusiasm, the hope, the private belief in a miracle that had brought them there from New Hampshire.
Their command post was on the 15th floor. Up on 23. one floor from the top, was McCarthy’s personal staff: Richard Goodwin, Blair Clark, Stephen Mitchell, the other important strategists. On the 15th, the kids were crammed, sometimes five or six to a room, sleeping on the floor, most of them not even registered in the hotel (at a political convention, having a hotel room necessarily means unpaid guests at least some of the time). Until Wednesday evening, the kids moved, as convention workers inevitably must, in a bubble of isolation, hearing from others what they themselves had not had time to see or to watch on television.
On Wednesday night, of course, the convention at the amphitheatre was inevitably to come to the McCarthy kids: it was win or lose. But on Wednesday night something else happened: the convention in the streets, too, came to the McCarthy kids.
They looked out the window, and there, across the avenue in front of Grant Park where a legal rally had taken place earlier, several thousand people had regrouped to march on the amphitheatre. They had broken through the police lines around the bandshell at Grant Park and come streaming by the thousands over the bridges and down Michigan Avenue. From sidewalk to sidewalk they massed, laughing and shouting, “The streets belong to the people. The streets belong to the people.” Their morale was at an all time high — they had outfoxed and outflanked the police.
They might not get to the amphitheatre but they had made it back to the Hilton which ranked only second as a symbol of the convention’s power and corruption. Massed in the intersection of Michigan and Balbo, fronting on the east wing of the Hilton, their shouts got louder and louder. In the fast enveloping dusk, a draft card flared and burned.
As T.V. trucks moved out from the Hilton parking lot to catch the action and turned huge spotlights on the crowd the kids cheered and flashed the “V for Victory.” The politics of death was about to be crowned in the amphitheatre but the politics of life was shouting for birth in front of the Hilton.
The Chicago police, thrown off guard by the sudden thrust over the bridge, began to huddle and regroup to attempt to reassert their control of the streets.
At 7:30 p.m. they charged. They cut a swathe right through the middle of the crowd, flailing away with their clubs at anyone in sight. Anyone was fair game — women, reporters, innocent bystanders pinned up against the side of the Hilton. Though hundreds were injured in the battle there was no panic. The kids fought back with symbolic gestures and their quickness of foot. They kept trying to regroup, but this only made the cops go berserk and they charged again and again. Finally they were able to break up the crowd into small knots and viciously clubbed anyone who couldn’t get away.
Some fled into the lobby of the Hilton to avoid the beatings; some escaped into the lobby too late, blood streaming from their heads. Others who entered were even less fortunate; they came, hurled by police, through the glass front of the Haymarket Bar, and then made their way out into the lobby through the bar’s inner entrance.
But there was no escape in the lobby. About 30 cops swept in from the avenue as a captain shouted, “Clear the lobby,” and without waiting for a response, began to club anyone who might possibly be a demonstrator: in practice, anyone young, anyone with a moustache or long hair or sideburns, any male who wasn’t wearing a suit. They made no arrests, but left seven people lying on the floor, their blood staining the carpet a darker red.
By eight o’clock the first skirmish was over, and Michigan Avenue had been cleared for a half block in either direction from the Conrad Hilton. The demonstrators, ingeniously slippingthrough police lines, regrouped again and once more faced a police line. In the hotel doorways, in windows, in the lobby, people stared in mute, head-shaking disbelief. Dan Moore, an ABC-TV reporter, was saying into someone else’s tape recorder, “I’ve covered riots in Saigon and Jakarta and I have never seen brutality and sadism like this.”
Among the disgusted was Fred Dutton, long a close Kennedy aide (he was special assistant to President Kennedy, later an assistant secretary of State and is now a Regent of the University of California). He came in from the avenue with blood all over the back of his suit — not his, but that of a demonstrator Dutton had pulled out of the chaos and into the lobby. “Maybe,” Dutton said later, it would be good if the Democrats lost and Nixon won — then they would learn that they were wrong.”
ON THE 15TH FLOOR, the McCarthy kids, like everyone else, had watched in disbelief and horror. But within minutes they had rallied to turn the floor into a battle hospital, because, one of them said, they were afraid that if the wounded demonstrators went to a Chicago hospital they might be beaten again. One group ferried the wounded to the 15th floor in the elevators, while young girls raced from one room to another, tearing sheets off the beds and ripping them to make bandages. There were continued cries for more doctors — while one group organized a series of lookouts, placing the wounded as far from the elevators as possible and providing a warning system in case the cops came.
They came, but only three of them — to tell the McCarthy kids that the hotel management demanded that they stop doing damage to the sheets.
By nine o’clock most of the wounds had been treated, and the McCarthy volunteers returned to the windows. A mass of demonstrators — fewer now, but still 2000 strong — stood solidly across the width of Michigan Avenue. Fifty feet away, 200 cops faced them. Behind the cops were three police vans; behind them, more cops waiting in reserve.
A demonstrator started to sing, and the crowd picked it up: America, America, God shed His grace on thee … From somewhere in the group, what sounded like a cracked bugle picked up the melody for a few bars, then trailed off. The crowd began an eerie shrieking, in imitation of the Arab women in “The Battle of Algiers.” It was this kind of harassment, not the shouted obscenities, that was obviously bugging the cops; there are no obscenities that Chicago cops are not long since accustomed to hearing.
Finally, at the front of the crowd of demonstrators, five or six young people knelt and clasped their hands in an attitude of prayer. Immediately police moved in to drag them away to the paddy wagons; but as each one was arrested, someone else stepped out from the crowd to kneel on the spot. After a few moments of this the police conferred briefly, and shortly after that National Guardsmen began to arrive, to clear Michigan Avenue again.
On the 15th floor there was a stir as the elevator doors opened and Eugene McCarthy stepped out. With him, besides Secret Service agents and a couple of staff members, were Mary McGrory of the Washington Star, poet Robert Lowell and Martin Peretz, who had contributed substantial funds to McCarthy’s campaign. McCarthy walked unsmiling to the back rooms of the floor to visit the wounded.
In the first room he found his friend and personal physician, Dr. William Davidson. On a bed was Geoffrey Rake, a McCarthy volunteer who is a medical student at the University of Chicago; the white bandage that swathed his head was clean, but his white medical jacket, which he had been wearing when he was clubbed, was still bloodstained.
In the next room McCarthy found 24-year-old Leslie Sussman, also of Chicago, who was writing for the Chicago area Lerner newspapers but who had a moustache; he had been in the lobby, and he waited now until it would be safe to go to a hospital for the stitches he needed. On the bed beside him in the same room was a boy with his leg torn open from knee to ankle; he had been thrown through a hotel lobby window by a cop.
As McCarthy left to go back to the elevator, he said to no one in particular, “This is what’s going to be happening from now on,” and, a few seconds later, “Six months on the road for nothing.”
THINGS HAD NOT GONE WELL all week for Eugene McCarthy, and the final ironic blow was that the kids, the only element in the campaign that had consistently done its job, were bleeding all over the Hilton floor, a reward meted out by Richard Daley, the very man whom the McCarthy pros were trying, up until the last minute, to court.
Ever since the California primary and the death of Bobby Kennedy, the McCarthy strategists were faced with a fundamental political choice. Up against the wall with less than 600 votes in a convention controlled by power brokers like Daley, by the outgoing Democratic National Committee and Johnson. they could either mount a massive frontal attack on the process by which delegates were selected, or they had the option of being more conservative, muting the mass protests, and trying to convince the delegates through the power brokers such as Daley, Unruh, Governor Rhodes of Ohio, and Governor Connally of Texas. The point they had to sell was that only with McCarthy at the head of the ticket would there be a chance of beating the Republicans and, more importantly, carrying in local candidates in the big industrial states.
The more conservative strategy won out. McCarthy canceled his European trip (his advisors repeated that it would be seen by many as talking to the “enemies of the republic”), told his followers not to come to Chicago to demonstrate, and most importantly, it was decided not to make a militant fight over challenging delegations chosen by northern bosses.
It was easy for the McCarthy forces to support the challenges to the racist delegations of Mississippi and Georgia: there was nothing to lose since the delegations there were disloyal Wallace supporters and had not much standing in the convention. It was a little more difficult to challenge Governor Connally’s Texas delegation, a challenge McCarthy supported verbally but did not fight for very strongly. The real tough ones were in the North — in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Minnesota, Washington and New York where through manipulation by party hacks and bosses the delegations came nowhere near reflecting the results of primary elections and district caucuses held in those states. To have made vigorous fights over these challenges would have gone a long way toward highlighting the undemocratic nature of the party and created a significant issue to rally party progressives and grass roots people for the next four years. But it would have also meant antagonizing powerful northern party figures such as Daley, and Rhodes from whom the McCarthy strategists still hoped for last minute support.
Joseph Rauh of the ADA, who managed the McCarthy credentials challenges this year (and who was responsible for the compromise on the Mississippi challenge in 1964) had this explanation for the credentials challenge strategy when asked about it by a Maryland delegate: “None of these Northern challenges are important — the South is where we need help.”
But the close-to-the-vest strategy moved the bosses not one whit. Mayor Daley toyed with the McCarthy people. He held out a tantalizing noncommitment until the last moment to keep up the image of an open convention and to keep the insurgent McCarthy forces from launching too vigorous an attack on the physical control and security precautions of the convention. Daley’s ploy worked. McCarthy people made no criticism of the police or Daley until Wednesday.
[“YOU LOST, DIDN’T YOU?”]
AT THE AMPHITHEATRE it ended. Some of the McCarthy kids were already crying; the networks switched to coverage of the demonstration on videotape, and the cries turned to shouts and screams as they watched the viciousness. There was a gasp when the group recognized the Rev. John Boyle, in clerical collar, being hustled into a paddy wagon.
Boyle — a student chaplain at Yale and assistant to the Rev. William Sloane Coffin — had been a McCarthy advance man since the early days of New Hampshire, and was now serving as chairman of Clergy for McCarthy. He had gone out in the street during the beatings to see whether he could be of any help.
“I saw kids being beaten and dragged by their feet,” Boyle said later, “and I went to the police and said, ‘You don’t have to do that’ and they pushed me away. Then I saw a McCarthy girl I knew named Betsy Bingsten being clubbed on the shoulder. I ran over and said ‘Betsy are you all right?’ They had thrown her into the paddy wagon and as I leaned in to ask if she were okay, two cops started beating me with their fists and then threw me into the wagon.”
It took several hours to bail out the Rev. Boyle — the police were allowing only attorneys who were members of the Chicago bar to handle the arrests.
Slowly — and spontaneously — the McCarthy kids went downstairs. On the sweeping twin stairways of the Conrad Hilton lobby they gathered, a thousand of them, watching the doors of the Grand Ballroom, in which McCarthy had called a press conference. “The Democratic in which Party is dead,” they began to chant, and then, more simply, “Peace now, peace now!” A middle-aged lady wearing a Humphrey button pushed her way past the edge of the crowd, snorting, “You lost, didn’t you?”
As McCarthy arrived, he could hear the new chant of his supporters — “Fourth party, fourth party!” But they weren’t allowed into the press conference.
He was his usual diffident self: the police had “overreacted”; he had lost because “the political procedures don’t respond to the judgment of the people.” He was asked whether his kids would go into the streets now, out of frustration, and he replied, “They will make out all right and they will serve the country well.” Outside on the stairs, they sang “We Shall Overcome.”
In the doorway of the hotel, John Kenneth Galbraith was in a shouting argument with a policeman who had told him to “move along” when he stopped to answer a reporter’s question. A police captain recognized Galbraith and rushed up to apologize.
On the 23rd floor, Richard Goodwin’s door was open, and on his intercom system — intended for communication with the floor and elsewhere in the city — voices were coming over the speaker. One of the walkie-talkies was at the scene of another confrontation and describing the scene. Another was at the amphitheatre, describing the beginning of a candlelight march of 400 to join the demonstrators in the park. Goodwin and Allard Lowenstein had bought the candles at a Chicago synagogue before the beginning of the evening session. Someone wanted to know whether McCarthy could go down to the park; someone in the hotel said that it wouldn’t be a good idea to ask McCarthy to do that now. The marchers, said the amphitheatre walkie-talkie, were “not hippies — just delegates and people.”
On the 15th floor, they were tearing up old press releases and throwing them out the window. Every movement group had come to Chicago with the idea of capturing the McCarthy kids. Now, in the lobby, a lot of those kids were leaving to go across the street.
[THE GESTAPO RAID]
ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT McCarthy headquarters had been a battlefield hospital. By early Friday morning, in the escalating, massive retaliation of the Chicago police the 15th floor of the Hilton became a war zone. For most of the police there was never any difference between the demonstrators in the street and the McCarthy kids — and by the end of the week there was in fact very little.
At 5:30 a.m., eight or ten police and hotel guards came pouring out of the elevators and charged down the corridors. They found a suite with about 15 young McCarthy staff members still up, sitting around singing songs and exchanging postmortems on the week’s events. The police charged into the room claiming that objects had been thrown out of .the room down onto some of the National Guardsmen still surrounding the hotel. The police rousted everyone and forced them toward the elevators. In the meantime, other policemen were going up and down the corridors, dragging people out of their bedrooms. Wendy Wayne, a McCarthy worker who had fallen asleep on a couch in one of the room, awakened to find herself being dragged off the couch by a police officer. Her head hit the floor. Finally allowed to stand up, she asked the officer if she could go back to the room for her purse and sweater — the officer refused and called her a “bitch.” She was pushed toward the elevator where other McCarthy aides were being dragged. One of the workers there was George Yudich, a 31-year-old press aide from Boston who had left a job as a language editor for a textbook publishing house to work for McCarthy. A four-year Air Force veteran, Yudich began asking the cops on what authority they were forcing everyone off the floor, at which point one policeman hit Yudich across the neck with his stick and three others beat him over the head before 20 witnesses.
Yudich was finally helped out of the way by Mary Beth McCarthy, the Senator’s niece. She was going to take him to the 23rd floor, to the Senator’s suite, and while they were waiting for the elevator a police officer of rank walked over to Yudich and threw a glass of whiskey over his suit, all the while smiling and saying he was sorry. When John Warren, a 24-year-old lawyer from California witnessed this melee and raised an outcry, he was sprayed in the face with Mace and had a police night stick broken over his head. Mary Beth McCarthy, weeping hysterically, finally got Yudich up to the 23rd floor and into her uncle’s suite. Senator McCarthy was awakened and went downstairs to lodge a protest with the police, but by this time it was too late. The other 20 or so McCarthy workers were herded down into the lobby and forced out of the hotel.
On the afternoon after the police raid, George Yudich sat glumly on a couch on the 15th floor as the last remnants of the six-month crusade were being dismantled. Surveying the wreckage around him, looking at the bloodstained carpet near the elevator, he said, “I guess I grew up fast at 31. I was tear-gassed twice and beaten by the police — all without provocation.” Yudich, for whom this was his first political effort (he had only voted twice before in his life and one of those votes was cast for Lyndon Johnson), found that the experience had changed his political thinking. “I now find myself a liberal bordering on being a radical,” he said. Then, looking up angrily, his head swathed in bandages, he said, “I don’t like someone pissing on my head and calling it rain.”
The lesson had been tough, and the “Clean for Gene” crew had few remaining illusions about the political process they had hoped to reform from within. One girl who had been with it from New Hampshire said, “Well, from now on it’s the Battle of Algiers — there’s no room anymore for the good loser Stevenson thing.”
[A PARTY OR THE STREETS?]
THE HUMPHREY-DALEY rneatgrinder left the insurgents at the convention with four options: to remain in the Democratic Party at the local grassroots level, refusing to support Humphrey but working for a Goldwater-type takeover of the party in 1972; to help organize a new fourth party and convince McCarthy or some other prominent figure to run; to work for the Peace and Freedom Party, which is running Eldridge Cleaver in New York and California; or simply to go into the streets for the next three months, creating two, three, many Chicagos and disrupting this years presidential elections.
For the first 72 hours following Humphrey’s nomination, most attention seemed to focus on something tentatively called the New Party. A brainchild of Marcus Raskin, co-director of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington (and the only defendant acquitted in the Spock trial), the New Party is the result of meetings held in June among a few Kennedy and McCarthy types, offshoots of Allard Lowenstein’s Coalition for an Open Convention meeting in Chicago, who began planning the steps necessary to get the party on the ballots in as many states as possible by November. Raskin expected a Humphrey victory and arrived in Chicago with about 20 full-time cadres at the beginning of the convention. He set up shop at the University of Chicago and sent his people out to talk up the fourth party among dissident Deomcrats.
Raskin hopes that the fourth party will get on the ballot in 25 states with approximately 290 electoral votes as of September 21st. With some seemingly fantastic juggling of figures, the New Party’s brochure projects McCarthy at the head of its ticket and shows him getting 150 electoral votes in November, thus throwing the election into the House of Representatives. Apart from this chancey numbers game, however, there is the rub that McCarthy has repeatedly said that he will not consider running on a fourth party ticket — indeed, only what he ambiguously called a “substantive effort” would even win his support.
The meetings of the new group in Chicago seemed to be plagued by the same wrangling and confusion that characterized most left-wing organizational efforts. At the last of five meetings, which included some dissident delegates, held at the University of Chicago on the Friday after Humphrey’s nomination, the New Party people talked of running McCarthy as a “passive candidate,” even if he disavowed the effort. An interim national committee was elected which includes Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary), Herbert Hoover (a Republican peace candidate from Iowa, the grandson of the original), Cornelius Givens, a black militant, and Warren Nielson, an ex-Peace and Freedom Party organizer from San Diego. Delegates at the meeting perked up when it was announced that Paul Newman and Gore Vidal were going to support the New Party.
Raskin realizes that without McCarthy the prospects for the New Party are very limited this year, but he said, “No matter how far we can go this year, we intend to set up a new party for the future.”
In the meantime, peripatetic Allard Lowenstein, with a stake in the Democratic Party now that he is running for Congress in Long Island, is organizing still another of his quickly-fashioned “coalitions” to keep some of the McCarthy dissidents, particularly from New York, within the party. Lowenstein’s new group has been dubbed “the New Democratic Coalition” and Lowenstein says it “represents the majority of the Democratic Party and the present leadership of the party does not reflect the majority.” “We will not take a position on the presidential election,” he continued. “We intend to try and elect as many congressmen and other candidates as we can who reflect our point of view.”
Without McCarthy or a comparable national figure leading it, the fourth party remains a vacant shell — a vacuum where middle-class white peace activists can begin thinking about and planning new strategies of electoral politics, and a respectable means of voting no for many Democrats in November.
But for many of the McCarthy kids, such a prospect is too tentative and inappropriate a response to the outrage of Chicago. By Friday afternoon, many of them were drifting away from the fourth party meeting at the University of Chicago, after six months of politicking, tired of more organizational meetings. “Fuck it,” one of them said to no one in particular, “the fourth party is in the streets.”
Jack Newfield reports that just after he won the California primary last June 4, and several minutes before he was assasinated, Robert Kennedy said, “I’m going to chase Hubert Humphrey’s ass all over the country. Now, in a different sense, the white radicals and even the young McCarthy idealists — the veterans of Chicago’s street battles — have taken up the chant.
“I think it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen this Fall,” says Rennie Davis. “There’ll be Chicagos everywhere the candidates go. People will be out to challenge and confront them. I think we should work to make the presidency illegitimate. This year there will be more of a focus on the elections than radicals usually take. There will be a lot of organizing around the ballot box by both the radicals and church people. I think there may be as many as 10,000 arrests on election day.”
Jerry Rubin and the Yippies are talking about another Chicago-style demonstration to try to disrupt the inauguration of the president in Washington next January. Dave Dellinger the middle-aged, soft-spoken pacifist leader of the Mobilization, assents: “The movement’s alternative to electoral politics is in the streets. Nobody is fooling around trying to be respectable anymore.”
There is even qualified endorsement from Marcus Raskin, who feels that electoral politics must go hand and hand with demonstrations and pressure from outside the system. “When people are closed out of the electoral process,” says Raskin, “they vote with their feet.”
The prospect is for a lot of running this fall — but not the kind that Hubert Humphrey is so good at.
[POWER IN THE STREETS ]
THE ULTIMATE COMMENT On Chicago may have been uttered to Hubert Humphrey by his long time friend admirer, advisor, physician and confidante, Dr. Edgar Berman as both settled back into the comfort of a jet-ride to homey Minnesota after the debacle at the stockyards. Humphrey, who had become increasingly upset over what, until Thursday, he had jokingly referred to as “the other convention” asked Berman for his opinion of what impact, if any, the street demonstrators would have on the November elections.
Berman, always the reassuring physician to Hubert, muttered some soothing inanities and closed with the observation that, “I remember how wild and radical you once were Hubert. Give these kids time and a few baths, some of the comforts, a stake in the establishment. They’ll come around. Radicalism is a glandular condition. We all outgrow it sooner or later.”
Our source for the above story is a person close to the Humphrey inner sanctum. It may sound apocryphal, but it carries the measure of the man and those around him. For the fact is that Hubert Humphrey left Chicago dumber than when he arrived. In the streets below his 25th floor Hilton suite one era was ending and another was announcing itself, and Hubert Humphrey, once a university political science professor, responded to it like a crusty old school-master whose classroom has been invaded by the neighborhood gang.
The battle on the streets of Chicago is perhaps best looked at, as a credentials fight. The demonstrators believed that they carried a mandate as legitimate as any credentials from the Democratic Party — to represent the poor, the black, the young and those otherwise disenfranchised in our society. Since such redress is not available within the structure of the Democratic Party it must be taken outside of it. The Democratic Party had its time of testing in Chicago — in the convention and on the streets — and everywhere it failed miserably.
If Humphrey hasn’t yet learned that lesson it will shortly pound its way uncomfortably into his consciousness, as he travels around the country. In Chicago the radicals and the McCarthy students found power in the streets, a power denied to them in the caucuses of the majority party controlled for Humphrey by Johnson and Daley.
Now they will perfect their ingenious street tactics in the next few months to make good their promise to “Dump the Hump.” Humphrey’s “politics of joy” is definitely in danger. In the streets of Chicago the kids, though they paid a bloody price, showed that there are limits to the repressive power that even a Daley can wield against those people who are prepared to defend their independence.
[A RAMPARTS SPECIAL REPORT] STAFF: Lawrence Bensky, Steve Chain, Steve Diamond, Jon Frappier, Art Goldberg, Marianne Hinckle, Warren Hinckle, Mary Kaplan, Sandra Levinson, Mark Libarle, Gene Marine, Jake McCarthy, Mary Morhoff, Joseph Nalven, Sydney Schanberg, Robert Scheer, Dugald S’termer, Sol Stern, Peter Stone, Leslie Timan, Lee Webb, Nancy Weber, Sydney Zion. PHOTOGRAPHERS : Jeffrey Blankfort, Eve Crane, Mary Ellen Mark.