1968 Democratic National Convention

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Police and protesters at the Convention

The 1968 Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago by the United States Democratic Party, for the purposes of choosing the Democratic nominee for the 1968 U.S. Presidential Election.

The decision was particularly difficult for the Democrats that year, due to the split in the party over the Vietnam War. On one side, Eugene McCarthy put forward a decidedly anti-war campaign, calling for the immediate withdrawal from the region. On the other side, Hubert H. Humphrey called for a policy more in line with President Lyndon Johnson's policy, which focused on making any reduction of force contigent on concessions extracted in the Paris Peace Talks.

Anti-war demonstrators protested throughout the convention, clashing with police all around the convention center (in the streets and at Grant Park). Mayor Richard J. Daley took a particularly hard line against the protesters, refusing permits for rallies and marches, and calling for whatever use of force necessary to subdue the crowds. When Abraham Ribicoff delivered a speech nominating George McGovern for President, he infuriated Daley by saying, "with George McGovern as President of the United States, we wouldn't have Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago." Some of the more famous protesters, including Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, and Dave Dellinger, were collectively known as the "Chicago Eight" (later "Chicago Seven") as they were charged with conspiracy in connection with the violence. On February 18, 1970 they were found guilty of conspiring to incite riots, but the charges were eventually dismissed by an appeals court. The Walker Report to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence pinned the blame for the violence in the streets on the police, calling it a "police riot."

The Democrats eventually settled on Hubert H. Humphrey, but would lose the election to Richard M. Nixon. A significant number of Democrats were so enraged by the War in Vietnam that they failed to see differences between Humphrey and Nixon.

One person that did not attend the convention was President Lyndon Johnson. On August 27, the second day of the convention, he turned 60. Delegates at the convention were hoping to see Johnson so that they could celebrate his 60th birthday with him. Instead, he celebrated it privately with his family at his ranch in Texas, possibly to avoid the violence at the convention.

The 1969 film Medium Cool, although centered on a fictional story and employing actors in the principal roles, includes a substantial amount of footage of the riots, filmed during the convention.

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See also

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