By Stew Albert (published August 30-September 5, 1968)
CHICAGO (3 AM Thurs Aug. 22, by phone) – Chicago tonite reeks of teargas. It is an ugly gasping fog and it is being inhaled by the entire City.
There is rioting in the streets.
Shop windows are being shattered. Fires are being started. The major sections of midtown Chicago have been in the mobile hands of the new revolutionary people of the street.
The National Guard has been called up and Mayor Daley’s Chicago pig force are running amuck.
The Yippies have asked for UN observers to be sent to Chicago to investigate this latest trampling upon human rights.
I have spent most of my time in Lincoln Park and in the streets. The park is seven miles from the Amphitheater where the Democrats curse and tear at each others throats.
The park was supposed to be where the Yippies would hold their Festival of Life, rejoicing and making love. Now, because Mayor Daley denied us a permit to sleep in the park, Yippie nights are spent in the streets taking on the cops on a block-to-block basis.
The human composition of Lincoln Park during the day is the “what’s happening” of the revolution.
There are the usual middle-class dropouts, but they have been joined by the working class dropouts of the motorcycle gangs, by the black and Puerto Rican dropouts from the Mother country.
They have been joined by the press (who have had their asses beaten like the rest of us) and by Catholic priests (who have been teargassed like the rest of us).
They have been joined by striking black bus drivers wearing Free Huey buttons and by those soldiers at Ft. Hood who would not come to Chicago to beat and kill their brothers.
On Tuesday in the park there was a huge wooden cross, NLF flags, red flags, black flags, Yippie flags. The tear gas drove this symbolic diversity into the streets and into revolutionary brotherhood.
If Daley and the Democrats had been smart, they would have given the park to the Yipipes and allowed a march to the Ampitheater. But the triumphant mood in the backrooms of hack politics is fascism.
They denied us everything and in doing that they pulled us together. Maybe they thought we’d fold up and go home. I guess they had the same opinion of long-hairs as some of the left wing groupings in Berkeley.
Perhaps Daley had the image of the apolitical love-generation hippy who offered America a flower and sixty minutes of cuteness on a TV special.
But we’ve all been beaten on the heads a little too much. We decided to stay and fight, and when we did we were joined by the others who have been beaten on the head too much. The forces were joined, and the battle began.
The motorcycle gangs were dubious of this kind of alliance at first, dubious of the willingness of the children of the suburbs to fight cops; but when the point was proved the new brotherhood was formed. They came to fight for the park in the streets.
We were told that the Blackstone Rangers (an organization of black streetfighters – ed.) were being paid off by the Mayor to drive us out of town. But I stood next to a Ranger speaking from a microphone in the park, and he said that in this battle there were no separations and that the thing to do was to make a revolution.
The Chicago fuzz have an international reputation of sleek, brutal piggery, but what the people have seen in Chicago has blown their minds, and they are scared.
When they see motorcycle gangs doing security for Bobby Seale while he speaks, or bodyguarding Jerry Rubin day and night, they must realize that the balance of forces is undergoing changes.
When we first arrived in Chicago the pigs put 24-hour tails on the Yippie leadership and boasted to the press that everything was under control. They followed us wherever we went, into restaurants and into theatres. They saw to it that our phone service was disconnected and they blocked us from going to meetings in hotel rooms.
But when we started fighting back the […]
Seven of us spent the day in jail for bringing a 200 pound pig into the center of Chicago and calling for his nomination by the Democrat Party. If Americans have unconsciously chosen to be ruled by pigs, they should be awakened and made to see what their leaders really look like. That time the cops were positively sweet to us and insisted they were for Wallace only because he is an honest man.
[…] for us someday and that they are interested in protecting their pensions.
It’s been very rough. One kid was killed when he was stopped on the street for a curfew violation. The pigs claim he had a gun but they have not yet come up with it. My six stitches came soon after that, and then as our revolutionary gangs began to move around town the cops really began to escalate.
Hundreds of young people have been arrested and there has been a special concentration on the most radical of the leadership. Tom Hayden has been arrested three times and beaten up in the station. Rennie Davis has had his head cracked open.
Jerry Rubin has been busted twice and at this writing is still in jail. Wolf Lowenthal, a kind of all-around bodyguard and bringer together of the gang, has been arrested three times and brutally beaten.
Marvin Garson, a visiting journalist from San Francisco, had four stitches put into his head and a charge of aggravated assault laid on him.
The cops have suffered their casualties too. They have had their cars and their faces smashed by bottles and rocks. Estimates are that between 50 and 70 police cars have been put out of commission, and on several occasions the police have been caught in their own tear gas.
I have never felt the essence of American power as I have on those nights leaving Lincoln Park at midnight. Seeing the gas floating up into the sky and the distorted masked faces of the police moving through it. Following as if it was a guru in hell, an electronic monster armored car moving slowly forward with the same contempt that advanced disease has for its victims.
There has been very little rock music in the park. The Miss Yippie contest has been cancelled, as well as Paul Krassner’s Pin the Contraceptive on the Pope game. Ed Sanders of the Fugs said music somehow wasn’t appropriate, and Joe McDonald of the Fish, whose nose was broken in the hotel lobby, left town.
The Yippies have shown themselves to be a two-edged sword. They can lure children away from the mediocrity of suburban supermarkets and graveyards by showing through their own groovy actions the possibility of another and more exciting form of life. Rock music and the dadaist puton is at the center of this approach.
But Chicago has shown that there is another side to this Yippie madness. We have cultivated our courage, we can fight, we can be tough, and we can talk to workers better than any old Marxist owl I ever met on the Cal terrace.
Berkeleyans know a lot about the Yippies media games, but about their clenched fists they know very little.
In the next week’s issue of the BARB, I want to go into the significance of this for the American revolution. I have learned much from Chicago that I never heard out of the mouth of a Hal Draper or a Pete Camejo.
I have always believed as a matter of DIALECTICAL faith that there would be a revolution in America.
Here in Chicago I know there will be a revolution; because it has begun and I am in the red and black center of it.