‘This Will Not Be 1968,’ Says Chicago PD. It May Be Worse

Chicago police and other city officials have been saying for months that the Democratic National Convention in August will not be anything like the riots of 1968. 

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“This will not be 1968,” said Chicago police Superintendent Larry Snelling. “Our response as a Chicago Police Department will be a lot more deliberate … a lot more controlled because our officers are being trained in the best way possible to respond to any level of civil unrest.”

Snelling is not wrong. Chicago in 1968 was a seething mass of anger, rage, and unrest. Riots in April following the death of Martin Luther King had torched several city blocks. Often a forgotten footnote to the convention riots of that year, the unrest in April set the stage for what happened during the Democratic National Convention.

Mayor Daley promised that there would be law and order during the event. Unlike today when demonstrators are assisted by the city to find the best location from which to disrupt the proceedings, the 10,000 yippies, hippies, Communists, and other anti-war protesters who traveled to Chicago were on their own.

It could have been a lot worse. Several civil rights groups decided not to come to the convention fearing violence. What the Walker Report on the convention riots called a “police riot” was an overreaction to the blood-curdling threats and rhetoric coming from some fringe elements of the anti-war movement.

The threats to the City were varied. Provocative and inflammatory statements, made in connection with activities planned for convention week, were published and widely disseminated. There were also intelligence reports from informants.

Some of this information was absurd, like the reported plan to contaminate the city’s water supply with LSD. But some were serious: and both were strengthened by the authorities’ lack of any mechanism for distinguishing one from the other.

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The “LSD in the drinking water” threat was from Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman. A member of the notorious “Chicago Seven,” Hoffman was a clown looking for attention. He got it.

The stage was set for trouble, and the Chicago police, poorly trained and poorly led, allowed the situation to get out of control. It wasn’t just the violence near the convention center. Police actively patrolled some of the side streets around the convention and rousted anyone with long hair. It was a nightmare as many innocent bystanders (including a dozen reporters) were caught up in the violence.

Superintendent Snelling is right. The 2024 Democratic National Convention in Chicago is not going to be anything like 1968.

It may be worse.

The police may be better trained but so are the protesters. And therein lie the seeds of trouble. The people behind these protests are not concerned about “civil liberties.” They want blood in the streets of Chicago and will do anything to make that happen.

Who is behind these anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian protests? Many veterans from the streets of 1968 Chicago are involved in training the campus protesters who took part in the recent unrest. 

Wall Street Journal:

In March, there was a “Resistance 101” training scheduled at Columbia with guest speakers including longtime activists with Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based group that celebrated the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. The administration twice barred the event, citing some of the organizers’ known support of terrorism and promotion of violence. Columbia students hosted the event virtually nonetheless, which prompted Columbia President Minouche Shafik to suspend several of them. 

During the session, which lasted nearly two hours, Samidoun coordinator Charlotte Kates encouraged students “to build an international popular cradle of the resistance,” according to a recording posted on YouTube.

“There is nothing wrong with being a member of Hamas, being a leader of Hamas, being a fighter in Hamas,” Kates said. “These are the people that are on the front lines defending Palestine.”

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The funding comes from many small-dollar donations but also from big donors like George Soros’s Tides Foundation and the shadowy Wespac Foundation, which funds numerous radical causes.

Provoking the police is going to be a challenge. The Chicago police have been undergoing months of “First Amendment Training,” according to Snelling.

“When our officers are out there dealing with volatile situations, they’re going to be decisions that those officers are going to have to make, and we want to make sure that they’re trained properly to make the most effective decision,” said Snelling.

Can a few hours of training overcome the natural reflexes to strike back when provoked?

ABC 7:

The officers at the training session were among 2,500 officers who will be on the front lines during the DNC. They are getting priority training that will eventually be given to all officers. It includes preparations for how to clear crowds to get medical personnel in to places where someone may have been injured.

Part of the preparations included how to properly use their shields to protect themselves and fellow officers and how to keep back any demonstrators who might step over the line.

“But when the threat level rises, when we know that attacks, physical attacks, violence is imminent, then the supervisors at that moment we’ll make a decision on what has to be done each each situation is different,” Snelling said.

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In essence, we have tens of thousands of protesters trained for weeks and months to provoke a violent response and police with a few hours of training to deter it.

Who do you think will prevail?

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