Chicago officials fear Democrat protesters will repeat violent history during the DNC convention this summer

It’s been said that those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it.

That prospect ought to be unnerving to those in the Windy City.

Now, Chicago officials fear the Democrat convention won’t be like 1968 because it may be worse.

Chicago was the scene of much trouble over a half-century ago.

After the death of Martin Luther King, rioters set several city blocks ablaze.

Those riots occurred in April of 1968 but what transpired then would set the tone for what would later occur during the Democrat National Convention.

The riots that happened at the convention took place even as Mayor Daley promised that there would be law and order during the event.

The word was out that over 10,000 communists and anti-war protesters would effectively be “on their own.”

But the Chicago police weren’t prepared for the civil unrest and the situation spiraled out of control.

The city police patrolled streets around the convention and harassed those with long hair. 

Bystanders and reporters were caught up in the violence.

Chicago lawyer Daniel Walker headed a team that conducted more than 1,400 witnesses and studied FBI reports and films of the confrontations.

The report was released on December 1, 1968, and characterized the convention violence as a “police riot” that was an overreaction to the threats and rhetoric coming from some fringe elements of the anti-war movement.

Current Chicago police Superintendent: “This will not be 1968”

Current Chicago police Superintendent Larry Snelling has tried to quell fears that the Democrat National Convention scheduled for this August might similarly devolve into mayhem.

Snelling said, “This will not be 1968. 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.”

But if this year’s convention doesn’t include a rerun of what happened in 1968, there’s also reason to fear it could be worse.

That’s because while the police may be better trained, the protesters are as well.

Concerns that campus protests blow into the Windy City

The Wall Street Journal reports that back in March, there was a “Resistance 101” training scheduled at Columbia with guest speakers including the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based group that celebrated the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. 

While the University’s administration twice barred the event, Columbia students attended a virtual event anyway, which prompted Columbia President Minouche Shafik to suspend several of them. 

During the online event, which lasted nearly two hours, students were encouraged “to build an international popular cradle of the resistance,” according to a recording posted on YouTube.

There is a real fear that some of these tactics may manifest themselves at the convention in August.

We’ve already seen tens of thousands of protesters on college campuses, and it’s easy to see how many could converge on Chicago where there will be a massive media presence.

Here’s to hoping these concerns are overblown, but avoiding the area around the convention this August, if possible, may not be the worst course of action.

Stay tuned to Blue State Blues for any updates to this ongoing story.

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