Books for the News, History

Counterprotesting a reunion of the protest police

jacket imageThis Friday evening, the Chicago officers who policed the 1968 Democratic Convention will reunite for the first time in 41 years. The gathering, billed by organizers as an occasion for the “Chicago Police [to] be honored and recognized for their contributions to maintaining law and order—and for taking a stand against Anarchy,” has rankled veterans of the anti-war demonstrations. As the Chicago Tribune reports

Don Rose, a former spokesman for the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, condemned the reunion at a City Hall press conference held by Chicago Copwatch, a community group that is organizing a march to the Fraternal Order of Police hall—where the event is being held—on the night of the reunion.
Rose took issue with the “provocative language” used by reunion organizers. . .
“They seem to be seeking to rewrite history,” Rose said. “These were unprovoked assaults by the police.”

A counterprotest is planned.
John Schultz, a former professor and chair of the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College, was in the middle of the action on those tumultuous August days. While other writers contemplated the events of the 1968 Chicago riots from the safety of their hotel rooms, Schultz was in the city streets, being threatened by police, choking on tear gas, and listening to all the rage, fear, and confusion around him. We recently reissued the book that resulted from his experience of the protests, No One Was Killed: The Democratic National Convention, August 1968. The book is Schultz’s account of the contradictions and chaos of convention week, the adrenalin, the sense of drama and history, and how the mainstream press was getting it all wrong. Read an excerpt.
Also relevant to any discussion of the role of the police in the 1968 DNC protests is Frank Kusch’s book Battleground Chicago: The Police and the 1968 Democratic National Convention the only book on Chicago ’68 that gives voice to the officers on the street. You can also read an excerpt from that one.