Shades of 1968…

Reviewing a Brief History Of Chicago’s 1968 Democratic Convention 40 years ago, brings to mind how chaotic the world must have appeared to me at 21 years of age. Having grown up in Chicago under the cloud of the “last of the big city bosses,” the Democratic Party under Daley’s rule was accepted as a powerful machine that churned out votes and could “fix” parking tickets if you had a friend. But at that time, nationally, the Dems were wracked with dissent over the war. The California and New York delegations were in revolt, forced to sit in the back of the convention hall. A huge battle took place over the inclusion of a proposed Peace Plank in the official Party platform.

Back then, Daley and the Chicago police saw the press as the enemy, for covering the rioting – 17 reporters, including Hal Bruno (then a reporter for Newsweek, now political director for ABC) were attacked. It is amazing how much has changed in 40 years.

Now, it is up to the grassroots to circulate the news. “The rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey puts it, often remains untold in the mainstream media. With that in mind, I want to share this release from the Green Party that fills in a bunch of blanks on the recent preemptive police raids that took place in St. Paul:

On Saturday police surrounded the home of Michael Whelan, a long-time Green Party supporter, whose Arise Bookstore at one time housed the party’s office. He was host to a group of independent journalists. The police broke down doors and subjected occupants to house arrest. “You figure this would be going on in South Africa, or Russia, not in St. Paul,” Whelan said. “St. Paul is nice.”

The previous night, police had invaded a meeting space in St. Paul rented by the anarchist RNC Welcoming Committee. They seized equipment and subjected some fifty people to handcuffing and search. Next day Monica Bicking, a leading member of the organization, was jailed along with three friends, and her home in Minneapolis was boarded up for alleged violation of city codes.

Meanwhile, the group’s nonviolence consultant and trainer, Betsy Raasch-Gilman, expecting arrest, took “sanctuary” at the meetinghouse of Twin Cities Friends (Quakers). As of this morning Bicking had been released, but those arrested with her and several others remain in custody. Both Bicking and Raasch-Gilman are daughters of former Green Party candidates and present spokespeople.

According to Minnesota poet and writer Richard Broderick, who is a member of the Green Party and has also been one of its candidates, “The erosion of civil liberties and constitutionally guaranteed rights in this country makes all the eloquent calls we heard from Denver for unity and restoring the American Dream little more than hollow rhetoric.”

Despite the efforts at intimidation orchestrated by federal authorities and carried out by DFL administrations in both Hennepin and Ramsey counties, Minnesota Greens have united to bring their VP candidate, Rosa Clemente, to the Twin Cities. She addressed the antiwar marchers in St. Paul today and tonight appeared with the National Truth Commission on Poverty. She will be participating in the Poor People’s march from Mears Park tomorrow.

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