Riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention

The Democratic Convention held in 1968 served as a significant event in the cultural and political history of the United States. The Vietnam War had caused contentious politics at the convention (McGowen 6). In fact, the violence between those who were against the Vietnam War and the Police destroyed the image of Chicago and created a bad name, which has not been recovered to date.

The main cause of the demonstrations and the riots at the 1968 Chicago Convention was the opposition to the War in Vietnam. Anti-War activists had met in Illinois, where they planned the protests, marched to the convention, and clashed with the police, where consequently, the riots arose (McGowen 8). In fact, the announcement made by President Johnson that he would not be seeking re-election created uncertainty among the anti-war group. Most of the activists who were against the war in Vietnam were now involved in the presidential campaigns of those who opposed the war, including Senators Kennedy Robert, George McGovern, and McCarthy.

In early April, there was pressure to have Hubert Humphrey, the Vice President, run for the presidency. Humphrey joined the race on 27 April, and since he had a close association with President Johnson, the plans for demonstrations in Chicago continued. Another major event that preceded the 1968 Democratic Convention was the assassination of Martin Luther King, the rights activists’ leader. Riots broke throughout the United States, including Chicago, where Mayor Daley gave the order to shoot. Thus, several people were killed, including the artistic icon Andy Warhol (Kush and Frank 28). Moreover, on 5 June, Kennedy Robert, a presidential candidate, was shot after winning the California primaries. Although he died the next day, his death intensified the protests.

It is worth noting that various protests were launched against the war in Vietnam, which led to the closure of some universities, the death of activists, and police brutality. In essence, the police were mobilized to ensure that no one accessed the amphitheater where the convention was being held without accreditation.


Works Cited

Kusch, Frank. Battleground Chicago: The Police and the 1968 Democratic National Convention. University of Chicago Press, 2008.

McGowen, Tom. The 1968 Democratic Convention. Children’s Press, 2003.            

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