Back in June of 1968, I found myself at a meeting in a public park in Chicago which had been organized to plan an attack on the Democratic National Convention that was scheduled to begin at the International Amphitheater on August 26th.
As I recall, there were somewhere around 40 people at the meeting, half of whom it later turned out, were undercover cops. The rest were mostly students who had been active in various campus anti-war events, along with members of the Viet Nam Veterans Against the War, two ladies from the Women’s Strike for Peace, all the usual suspects that you would find at any left-wing activity anywhere in the United States.
The meeting was run by Dave Dellinger, a long-time pacifist, and I remember Tom Hayden being there, along with Philip Berrigan, a Catholic priest who had been arrested back in May for taking files out of a draft board in Maryland and burning them in the street.
Everyone at the meeting agreed to contribute time, money, and energy to help build a mass demonstration at the Democratic Convention, an activity which we would refer to, then as now, as the ‘Mobe.’ Today I think of that group lovingly as the Class of ’68.
It turned out that we weren’t the only ones mobilizing for the Convention. The Mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, was also mobilizing the Chicago Police Department who showed up at the Convention and at Lincoln Park (where many of the demonstrators camped out during the event) complete with tear gas, helmets, clubs, and other equipment used to beat up the crowd.
Had the Chicago PD been as unprepared for the Mobe as the Capitol Police were for January 6th, I have no doubt that the large group of demonstrators who marched to the Amphitheater the first night of the Convention would have stormed into the building, disrupted the proceedings, and kept the Democratic Party from fulfilling its Constitutional responsibility to nominate someone for the upcoming election for President of the United States.
If you think that the Chicago Mobe was less violent than what happened on the steps of the Capitol last year, then all I can tell you is that you don’t know what happened in 1968. Granted, nobody was killed. But I spent two nights in Lincoln Park watching the Chicago cops beat the shit out of as many demonstrators as possible, and many of those demonstrators gave aa good as they got.
Know how many people have been arrested and charged since January 6th of last year? As of today, I think the number is 725. Know how many were arrested at the Chicago Mobe? Try 668. The cops arrested so many people in Chicago that they ran out of room in the city jail and made some of the demonstrators stay overnight in school buses before they were arraigned and bailed out the next day.
In the aftermath of the Convention, I took a vacation and drove across the United States. Every day I stopped in another city, bought a local newspaper, and read what was going on. Every night I checked into a motel and watched the news on TV. At no time then or afterwards up until now, did I ever hear anyone refer to me or anyone else who joined the Mobe as fascists, even though we would have busted up the Convention and denied Humphrey the nomination if we could.
Here’s today’s headline from Salon: “Republicans have dropped the mask — they openly support fascism.” The article goes on to say this: “Many of the same voices who insisted that the Republicans were not fascists and did not pose an existential threat to democracy also downplayed or outright dismissed the obvious evidence that Donald Trump and his cabal were going to attempt a coup to nullify the 2020 presidential election.”
What ‘existential threat’ is Salon talking about? Want a coup? I’ll give you a coup. Try what we did in Chile to Salvador Allende in 1973. That was a coup. Or better yet, try the coup we carried out in Iran against Mohammad Mossadegh which led to the regime of the Shah. Remember him? That was a coup.
You think those schmucks running through the Capitol waving their Confederate flags on January 6th could plan or carry out a coup? Give me a friggin’ break.