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Timeline: The events of the 1968 Democratic National Convention

Photo Credit: AP

The Democratic National Convention of 1968 began on August 26 in Chicago, IL. The year leading up to it, was filled with violence, political and civil unrest culminated into the perfect storm headed to the Windy City. Law enforcement, protesters, and journalists all have different views of how it all occured. Check out 'Decades Presents 1968: The DNC,' to hear the perspectives of players from all three sides.

'Decades Presents 1968: The DNC' premieres Monday, August 6, 2018 at 9pm ET.

Also airing Friday, August 17 at 10pm ET, Saturday, August 25 at 9am ET, & Wednesday, August 28 at 12am ET


October 8, 1967

The Democratic Party announces that Chicago will be the site for the 1968 Democratic National Convention, beating out Miami and Houston for the honor. The event will be held at the International Amphitheatre, a 10,000 seat stadium seven miles south of the city’s downtown, near the Union Stockyards.

Photo Credit: AP - Chicago's Mayor Richard J. Daley peeks around corner of an open-topped model of International Amphitheater as it will look for Democratic convention


October 21-22, 1967

Up to 100,000 protesters stage an anti-war march and rally in Washington, D.C., which ends up at the Pentagon. The National Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam (the “MOBE”) organizes the protests, where around 600 people were arrested. After the Pentagon demonstrations, anti-war activists began planning demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, where President Lyndon B. Johnson is expected to be nominated for a second term.


November 30, 1967

Sen. Eugene McCarthy announces that he will challenge President Lyndon Johnson in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. McCarthy, an anti-war candidate, listed the president’s Vietnam policy as the major difference he has with Johnson.

Photo Credit: AP


December 31, 1967

New York City–based activists Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman and Paul Krassner form the Youth International Party (better known as the “Yippies”) and say they will hold a “Festival of Life” during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Photo Credit: AP - Political activists Abbie Hoffman, left, and Jerry Rubin set five-dollar bills on fire at the Financial Center in New York, Aug. 24, 1967


January 30, 1968

The Tet Offensive begins, as Vietcong and North Vietnamese troops launch a successful attack on more than 100 cities and towns in South Vietnam. The attacks surprised Americans, who thought the U.S. was winning the war. It marked a turning point for American support for military involvement in Vietnam.

Photo Credit: AP


March 16, 1968

Sen. Robert Kennedy (D – New York) announces his candidacy for the Democratic nomination, while criticizing Johnson’s escalation of the Vietnam War.

Photo Credit: AP


March 22-23, 1968

Activists from MOBE, the Yippies and the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) hold a conference in Lake Villa, Illinois, where they begin planning demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Photo Credit: AP - MOBE organizer David Dellinger speaks during a press conference Nov. 22, 1966.


March 31, 1968

President Lyndon Johnson announces that he will not run for re-election.

Photo Credit: AP


April 4, 1968

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis. Riots break out in numerous U.S. cities, including Chicago, where Mayor Richard J. Daley orders police to "shoot to kill… or maim" any arsonists or looters.

Photo Credit: AP


April 27, 1968

Vice President Hubert Humphrey announces that he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination. But unlike his opponents, he will not enter any primaries.


June 5, 1968

Sen. Robert Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles, after declaring victory in the California primaries.

Photo Credit: AP


July 1968

The MOBE and the Yippies apply for permits to camp in Lincoln Park and rally in various locations in Chicago. All requests are denied, except for one rally in downtown Grant Park.

Photo Credit: AP - Outside the International Amphitheatre in Chicago in August 1968 works nears completion for the 1968 Democratic National Convention.


August 8, 1968

Richard M. Nixon is nominated as the GOP candidate for president at the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach. In the nearby Liberty City neighborhood, riots result in four deaths.

Photo Credit: AP


August 10, 1968

Sen. George McGovern (D – South Dakota) announces his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

Photo Credit: AP


August 23, 1968

Activists begin streaming into Chicago for the convention. At the Civic Center (now Daley Center) in Chicago, the Yippies nominate their choice for president — a pig named Pigasus. Seven Yippies and Pigasus are arrested.

Photo Credit: AP - Their faces painted like clowns, Yippies march in front of the Conrad Hilton, Democratic convention headquarters hotel, in Chicago on August 25, 1968.


August 24, 1968

Delegates and politicians begin arriving in Chicago. Activists begin crowd protection drills in Lincoln Park. Demonstrators begin congregating in Lincoln Park, but leave at the 11pm curfew.


August 25, 1968

The Yippies “Festival of Life” opens in Lincoln Park, with Detroit proto-punk band the MC-5 featured as performers for about 2,000 people. Police sweep the park at the 11pm curfew, beating many in the park and forcing them into the nearby Old Town neighborhood. It’s the first night of violence during the convention. MOBE and SDS leader Tom Hayden is arrested.


August 26, 1968

Mayor Richard J. Daley formally opens the 1968 Democratic National Convention, while police engage in clashes with protesters at the main police station in the city’s South Loop neighborhood and in Grant Park. Perhaps the worst violence of the week occurs in Lincoln Park, when police use tear gas and billy clubs in an attempt to clear the area after the 11pm curfew. A number of reporters are also beaten.

Photo Credit: AP


August 27, 1968

Tempers flare at the Amphitheatre, where CBS reporter Dan Rather is roughed up by convention security. Around 2,000 anti-war advocates hold “An Unbirthday Party for LBJ” at the Chicago Coliseum, then march to Grant Park, where there are numerous speeches and performances by Peter, Paul and Mary. Grant Park is peaceful, but there are clashes again in Lincoln Park after police enforce the 11pm curfew.

Photo Credit: AP


August 28, 1968

As many as 15,000 people gather in Grant Park for the one rally that was allowed a permit by the city. Meanwhile, at the convention, a peace resolution for the Democratic party platform is voted down. After hearing the news, a young man in Grant Park attempts to lower the American flag. Police then charge the crowd, arresting the young man and beating other activists, including MOBE organizer Rennie Davis. Police form a cordon to keep activists from marching to the Amphitheatre, and the demonstrators end up on Michigan Avenue in front of the Hilton Hotel, where they are clubbed and beaten. Although an IBEW strike prohibits the violence from being aired live on TV, camera crews film the scene and shuttle it to the Amphitheatre, where the networks air it during convention coverage, which shocks millions of viewers throughout the world. Sen. Abraham Ribicoff, while nominating McGovern, denounces the “Gestapo tactics on the streets of Chicago.” Mayor Daley (pictured left with his son Richard M. Daley) responds with angry epithets. Hubert Humphrey wins the party’s nomination on the first ballot.


August 29, 1968

Delegates and protesters again attempt to march to the Amphitheatre and again are met with resistance (and tear gas) from police. Hubert Humphrey (left) accepts his party’s nomination, where he says, “America tonight... resolve that never, never again shall we see what we have seen.” The convention is adjourned at midnight. More than 660 arrests are reported by police, with medics treating more than 1,000 demonstrators, according to the Medical Committee for Human Rights.

Photo Credit: AP


August 30, 1968

Police enter rooms of McCarthy campaign workers at the Hilton Hotel, beating many with billy clubs, after they were accused of dropping objects on officers from a 15th-floor window.

Photo Credit: AP - Sen. Eugene McCarthy,left, gives a word of comfort to a young man whose head was bloodied in a clash between police and 3,000 demonstrators outside the Democratic convention headquarters hotel, the Conrad Hilton, in Chicago August 28, 1968.


November 5, 1968

Richard Nixon defeats Hubert Humphrey in the general election, winning 32 states in the electoral college and narrowly beating the Democrat by about 500,000 in the popular vote.

Photo Credit: AP


December 1, 1968

The National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, chaired by future Illinois Gov. Dan Walker, releases its investigation on the convention week violence. In the “Walker Report,” the violence is labeled a “police riot.”


March 20, 1969

The so-called “Chicago 8” — Rennie Davis, David Dellinger, John Froines, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, and Lee Weiner — are indicted on federal charges of conspiring to cross state lines with the intent of rioting. Their trial begins in November 1969. A mistrial is declared in Seale’s case, after he was bound and gagged in the courtroom. Seale is ultimately convicted for contempt of court, but his sentence is reversed. The other seven are acquitted on conspiracy charges.

Photo Credit: AP

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