Patrick Murfin: Summer of `68 Part XI

November 13th, 2011

We surged out of the Coliseum and headed south.

The vanguard of the 2,000 or so people got no more than a couple of blocks before it was turned back by police.  Reversing course, our cry was now: “Grant Park! Grant Park.!”

As we headed north, I found myself near the rear of the crowd.

At some point we cut over from Wabash to Michigan Ave

I was still on the east side of Michigan in front of the Conrad Hilton.  The majority of the crowd before me had surged across the street and made a bee line to the raised equestrian statue of Union General John Logan.

This had been the site of scuffle between demonstrators and police a day earlier.  This time the crowd occupied the hill and several climbed the statue where two or three waved Vietcong flags against the gray sky.

It was my experience that week that nothing set Chicago cops off like the sight of those Vietcong flags.

I watched as massed police attacked the hill.  This time there was no tear gas, but batons were swinging with zeal.

It didn’t take them long to take the hill and chase most of the crowd across the Balboa Bridge into Grant Park.

If you look really close, you can see Mr. Murfin in the crowd….


A couple of hundred of us were stranded across the street on Michigan.  Some tried to cross to join the main group but were turned away.

A smaller knot of cops seemed to be making a move to get us away from the Hilton, which was convention headquarters and where many delegates stayed, including most of the McCarthy delegation.

We started moving north eventually scattering in small groups.

I cut over to State Street and began walking north from there.  Pretty soon I was alone.

Across the river somewhere I moved over to Clark St. It is a very long hike from the south end of Downtown to the North side.

By the time I got to Division I was tired and thirsty.  I ducked into the bar of the old Mark Twain Hotel for a beer.

Unknown to me, it was a hangout for the remnant of the old Bug House Square radicals, several of whom had gathered from the cheap rooming houses nearby to watch coverage of the convention on the saloon TV.

When they saw me, it was not hard to for them to tell I was a demonstrator.

Three or four of them, yammering in various European accents, surrounded and peppered me with eager questions.

They gagged Bobby Seale….


They were also glad to stand me for a round or three or four.  They offered beer, brandy, even Malort — once described as “incredibly bitter, with notes of earwax, fire, poison, and decaying flesh” — out of respect for my supposedly manly willingness to face “the damn bulls.”

I gagged down the Malort, although I think I would rather have been tear gassed.  After an hour or so I stumbled out of the saloon and resumed my journey,

I must have passed through Lincoln Park that night, although I have not a shred of memory of it.

That was the evening Bobby Seale, the Black Panther leader, showed up just long enough to give a little speech about “resisting the pigs by any means necessary.”

That little episode, the only thing he did all week in conjunction with the convention, was enough to get him indicted, and eventually tied and gagged in Julius Hoffman’s courtroom.

It was also the evening that 200 clergymen raised a giant cross and prayed, for which the police were more than happy to crack their skulls.

But if I saw any of that, I was oblivious.  Damn that Malort.

Editor’s Note: Patrick‘s last post for The Third City was Summer of `68 Part X….

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