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Strategy of Confrontation - Chicago and the Democratic National Convention, 1968

NCJ Number
Date Published
78 pages
This report chronicles events, injuries, arrests, and problems occasioned by the so-called strategy of confrontation that produced the clashes between police and 'radicals' at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.
The report concludes that the 1968 Democratic National Convention was the focus of confrontation for many dissident groups in the United States, with the most intense efforts being those by the National Mobilization Committee and the Youth International Party. Objectives were to disrupt the convention and paralyze the city. These objectives were announced publicly; training for the encounter was conducted publicly; and the disruption efforts were openly launched. Appropriate city agencies noted the plans for disruption and adopted plans designed to deal with the expected tactics of the 'radicals.' All police officers were placed on 12-hour duty, the Illinois National Guard was activated and readied in case of emergency, and Federal troops were located in readiness at O'Hare and Glenview air stations. Psychological warfare was waged by the dissidents in the city for weeks, and several outbreaks of violence occurred during the week of the convention, with the most serious incident being in front of the Hilton Hotel on August 28. Although unfavorable publicity by the media was enormous, arrest and injuries were moderate. The convention was not disrupted; the city was not paralyzed; not one shot was fired; and not one life was lost. The appendixes contain information on (1) primary targets proposed for disruptive demonstrations, (2) record of purchases of caustic materials and attempted purchase of narcotics in 'Old Town' during convention week, (3) a list of weapons used by dissidents, (4) a memorandum of the court decision bearing upon city permits for the demonstrations, (5) a list of the names of injured police officers and the injuries suffered by each, (6) the number of persons receiving emergency care during the riot and the injuries treated, (7) a report to the corporation counsel by the superintendent of police, (8) the names of newspersons alleging assaults on their persons by police, and (9) a statement by Mayor Richard Daley to the convention delegates. A breakdown is also provided of the persons arrested by age and sex. (Author summary modified)