and the Transformation of American Politics (2017)
Meanwhile, the anti-war protest groups made it clear that they would proceed with their marches/protests in public parks without city permits. The Chicago Police Department prepared for 12 hour shifts and 7000 troops at Fort Hood were being trained for riot control. Daley, the Governor of Illinois, and the Pentagon all agreed that the Illinois National Guard should be called up, which would bring the overall total to deal with the protesters (on paper) to 40,000.
The various protest groups taunted Chicago’s municipal government (e.g. threatening to dump LSD in the city’s water system), and a few days ahead of the convention, the Yippies were already in Lincoln Park, as was the Student Democratic Society (SDS). Officials from the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (MOBE) came to the park to train protesters in self-defense and confrontational non-violent tactics. It wasn’t long before Rennie Davis, Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, and Dave Dellinger (all would be named as part of the “Chicago 8”) figured out that they wouldn’t come close to their goal of 300k - 500k protesters in Chicago. Lincoln Park was under 24 hour surveillance by the authorities, and soon there were more police than protesters in the park; the question on everyone’s mind was what would occur at 11 pm when the park closed.
The next day, Tom Hayden and MOBE led a large march of protesters to Grant Park, and the were left alone by the authorities; the result was a false sense of security/accomplishment on the part of Davis and Hayden. But later in the day in Lincoln Park, Davis and Hayden became frustrated that only 5000 showed up for a Yippie Music Festival, and that the police refused to allow flatbed trucks the deliver the concert sound system. So, Hayden and Davis thought it would be a good idea to remain in Lincoln Park after 11 pm to see what the police would do, and then quickly leave the park.
Soon after 9 pm in the dark, some protesters started throwing rocks at police, and when the rocks became an avalanche, the police (fully equipped in riot gear), moved in. For the next few hours, anyone in the way of the police was dealt with harshly, and tear gas was used when the protesters left the park and entered the streets. So, of course, in response the protesters clogged up traffic, and order wasn’t restored until 2 am.
Daley then explored the possibility of a “Draft Ted Kennedy” movement, of which Senator Edward Kennedy (MA) wanted no part, and when LBJ got wind of it, he put a stop to the idea. Conventional wisdom had it if Kennedy was running, Humphrey would not have enough delegates to win on the first ballot, and so, to the anti-war faction, Kennedy seemed to be the best strategy to eventually nominate McCarthy. Soon after the opening gavel a bitter floor fight ensued over the “Unit Rule”. When placed in front of the whole floor, the Unit Rule was abolished, which meant that there would be no winner-take-all vote totals from the individual state delegations.
Then it was the turn of the Credentials Committee, and a floor fight occurred over the seating of the Georgia delegation (Joseph Rauh had challenged the delegations of three Southern states, including Governor Connally’s Texas delegation). Some McCarthy delegates wanted the Credentials Committee to deny seating all of Humphrey’s delegates, which infuriated the party’s power brokers regardless of region. Never before, in the brief history of televised political conventions, had viewers seen this level of conflict and antagonism on the floor amongst the delegates and the party leaders. At 11 pm in Lincoln Park, the scene was worse than the previous night, and this time TV cameras were positioned to capture the mayhem; to viewers, it seemed that there was no such thing to Chicago police as an innocent bystander.
McCarthy admitted to some that he would never have stepped aside for RFK, and nobody in the Ted Kennedy camp really trusted McCarthy. But the larger problem for those that wanted to draft Kennedy was Teddy himself, in that they needed to find a way to launch the Draft Kennedy movement without Kennedy stopping it. In other words, they needed to find a way to get it started, and then after it became public, be sure that Teddy said nothing afterwards to quash it . . . it needed to be a fait accompli. Anticipation among the delegates would quickly grow if Kennedy didn’t stop the draft, and when McCarthy took the state to endorse Teddy, the lid would pop off the floor. At that point, the Draft Kennedy supporters believed, Teddy would fly to Chicago to accept the nomination, and Humphrey (and the party bosses) would be denied.
To Senator Edward Kennedy, the Draft Kennedy movement that was gaining steam on television looked like it was orchestrated by McCarthy; Teddy was afraid that it would appear that he was trying to push aside McCarthy, and that perception would damage his political standing then and for the future. So, Teddy believed that he had to immediately end the Draft Kennedy movement before any lasting damage could be done to his political career. Tuesday morning, Teddy called Humphrey and assured the Vice-President that he would not run; it would be another twelve years before Senator Edward Kennedy tried to pursue the nomination of the Democratic Party for President.