1968’s Chicago ‘Police Riot’
The major thesis of “ ‘Even the Pigs Have Something to Say’ ” (July 3) is that the Chicago Police Department is laboring to recover its “lost honor” caused by the “ignominious tag of ‘police riot’ that tarnished their handling of the bloody weeklong clashes” in the streets and parks of Chicago in 1968. The “tag” of “police riot” is attributed to me and the “Walker Report, a federal panel.” The thesis is badly flawed. It is apparent that your reporter did not read the published report, “Rights in Conflict,” which is available in all major libraries.
What I wrote in my personal summary of the over-300 page fact-filled documentation of the tragic events is this: “A majority of Chicago police acted responsibly; a minority engaged in violence that can only be termed a ‘police riot.’ ”
No one who reads objectively the facts detailed in “Rights in Conflict” could reach any other conclusion regarding a minority of the police on duty; those facts were taken from many hours of movies, thousands of still pictures and thousands of eyewitness accounts, including those contained in over 1,000 FBI statements taken from participants.
The article refers to a “federal panel” and the “Walker Commission” as being behind the report. I was asked by Milton Eisenhower, chair of President Lyndon Johnson’s National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, to prepare a personal report on the convention events; I assembled a staff recruited from law and accounting firms and major corporations and personally supervised the preparation of the report, for which the Eisenhower Commission took no responsibility.
Finally, I do wish that your reporter had paid me the courtesy of calling me, as many other reporters have done since 1968.