Steal This Dream (Larry Sloman)

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  Abbie Hoffman (from his speech in Lincoln Park)

Theater can be used as an offensive and defensive weapon, like blood. We had a demonstration in New York. We had seven gallons of blood in little plastic bags. You know, if you convince 'em you're crazy enough, they won't hurt ya. Cop goes to hit you, right, you have a bag of blood in your hand. He lifts his stick up, you take your bag of blood and go whack over your own head. All this blood pours out, see. Fuckin' cop standin'. Now, that says a whole lot more than a picket sign that says end the war...

John Zitek

Hoffman and Rubin didn't lead 'em. What they did was instigate, rile 'em up, aggravate the situation, holler over the loudspeakers. We had informants among those people, let's face it. The informants were not planned on, these were kids that were given a break after they were arrested.

They had boxes of old ceramic tile stashed behind trees in Lincoln Park to throw at the police that night. Helmet or no helmet, you got hit in the balls with that damn thing. They were fakers, with their bullshit blood, and they run out to the street where the stupid reporters were, and I'll say it into this damn thing, and tell them that they were hit over the head and they had bullshit cow's blood and they banged themselves up.

Jeff Kamen (broadcasting for WCFL)

Late last night and early this morning, the Chicago Police Department sent 700 men, lobbed tear-gas grenades into a mob of some 1,500 Yippies and their sympathizers in the southeastern end of Lincoln Park. And there were confrontations on the street. More than 2,500 young people ran wild in the streets. They didn't break up any property. Some youths did try to turn over cars and were unsuccessful in that. Some heads were cracked by police, some newsmen were injured by policemen. It may be another rough day and an even rougher night between the Yippies and the police and some of the people put in between--the newsmen.

Paul Sills, founder of Second City

On Tuesday night we stood and watched the ministers go in.

Carol Sills

We went with them in the morning to the cop station in the park. We protested about the nonsense that had gone on before and on Sunday night. The ministers announced that they were going to go into the park that night with a cross at curfew time. Commander Braasch said, "Why, that would be an act of civil disobedience."

Allen Ginsberg

In order to provide the kids refuge and protection, a group of priests went to the park and held a religious ceremony and set up a cross. The police actually teargassed the floodlit cross and drove the priests and the kids out of the park that night.

Sal Gianetta

Hayden was running around in four hundred different disguises. Abbie said to Hayden, "I'm gonna get a disguise too, I'm gonna disguise myself as a manic-depressive." It's one of those thoughts that runs through your head but a year and a half later all of a sudden you say, "Holy shit!"

Ab worked real, real, real hard to organize this, real hard! He was noticeably depressed in Chicago. Maybe 20 percent of his depression was his responsibility for those kids getting banged. It was brutal. Those fucking pig national guards were going after fourteen-year-old kids, whapping them on the fucking head. It was killing him. It was only sometime in the seventies that I started to realize that Abbie's mood swings were obvious in Chicago. But it was clouded because there was an obvious reason for his depression: the beatings.

Tom Hayden

I don't know whether Abbie was on drugs a lot in Chicago. But he seemed to me really, really explosive, paranoid, fatalistic, almost to a point of being immobilized. At this point he had become so symbolic to the police that he couldn't lead anything, he couldn't go to a restaurant, he couldn't do anything. He was shut down.

Anita Hoffman

We were sitting in this luncheonette having breakfast, and in walked the cops. Abbie had put "FUCK" on his forehead in preparation for the day's activities, the rationale being that with that on his forehead the press will not photograph him and he'll be anonymous and he can do whatever he wants.

Paul Krassner

That was an idea that he had gotten from Lenny Bruce. Lenny had done it with toilet paper spelling out the words and Abbie did it with lipstick. I think he made the mistake of tipping his hat to the cops. I remember Abbie saying, "It's the duty of a revolutionist to finish his breakfast." I have the feeling that they somehow let him finish eating breakfast.

John Zitek

I saw him get busted, yeah. I wasn't surprised. No, I think it was time for him to get busted, get him out of the picture. He wanted to get busted. How fast did the word go out? Call it being a martyr, my leader was busted, I'm gonna do worse.

Rennie Davis

After the wipeout with the cross at ten o'clock on Tuesday night, that was the end of Lincoln Park for me. I wanted to move our determined presence in front of the convention delegates. So the decision was made to empty out the park and reassemble in front of the Hilton Hotel.

The city granted a permit. It was their public relations strategy to say "Yes, we did grant a permit" and it was clear it had been part of their strategy all along, but it was done at the eleventh hour so we couldn't have out-of-town people come in. And so on Wednesday afternoon, at the band shell, which was in Grant Park many miles from the convention, a rally occurred. We had our marshals out in force because there were mothers there with babies.

Paul Krassner

Pierson helped pull the flag down on Wednesday in Grant Park. That set off the riot. It was as if it were a signal to his fellow cops. I'm under the impression that he was throwing rocks at his fellow officers too.

John Sack

To take the flag down was a very pro-American and patriotic act, it doesn't show disrespect for the flag, it shows great respect to the flag to say that the city of Chicago does not deserve to have the American flag flown over it.

Rennie Davis

When the kid pulled down the flag at half mast and the police came in and pulled him out for arrest, we instantaneously threw up a marshal line and locked arms. I was standing in front of the line with a bullhorn, trying to communicate to the police we have the situation totally secured and the best thing would be for them to withdraw. And then the command was given to charge us with blue helmets and swinging batons. There were policemen literally chanting "Kill Davis" as I was being attacked. I was the first one to be hit. The first strike brought me to the ground, opening my skull. That was where I got my thirteen stitches. But it was the battering of my back on the ground that was really the killing experience. I felt like they wanted to kill me. Fortunately, I was able to crawl under a chain fence and escape.

John Sack

We were teargassed and there was a girl crying to her boyfriend, "They can't do this, this is my world."

Wolfe Lowenthal

I got hit at the big thing at Grant Park. It was a fucking killer of a shot. I was just not right for the next couple of years. I was waking up every night in cold sweats. I think it made me a little bit punchy. Then I and so many other people started going in the direction of the ultra Left and the violence. We were, in a sense, indulging how hurt we'd been by Chicago.

Rennie Davis

I crawled under the chain fence and had two seconds to stand up and fall into the crowd before going unconscious. I was then taken by our medics to one of the county hospitals. There was an all-points alert in the city to find me and arrest me. So while I was at the hospital, the police conducted a room-by-room search. I was on a table with a sheet over me, being moved from room to room. To this day I'm amazed that no one in the hospital administration turned me in.

Tom Hayden

The crowd responded according to our plans. One-half got in line with Dave to get arrested and everybody else scattered. They were told get to the Hilton by any way you can. It involved running along Lakeshore Drive endlessly, just running, trying to see if there was a way to cross one of those bridges. The only way into the hotel area and into the city is across narrow bridges that are spaced out by hundreds of yards. At each bridge there's a tank and a jeep and barbed wire and machine guns. So you keep running and you keep thinking the next bridge we'll beat 'em, and you get to the next bridge and same thing, they're there. And you're gonna run out of bridges soon and then you think you're gonna be encircled and arrested in Lake Michigan. Finally, we got to a bridge that was not yet sealed off. About a thousand people ran over this bridge. On the other side of the bridge we're finally on Michigan Avenue.

Allen Ginsberg

Burroughs said, "I see no good can come of this." But he was willing to march with Dellinger. Genet, Burroughs, Terry Southern and myself were set up on the front line of the big march and got caught in the tear gas all together.

David Lewis Stein (from his book Living the Revolution)

We got into the park safely. Much cheering. We were like reinforcements arriving on a battlefield. We stopped by a bench to join a crowd listening to a transistor radio. The roll call was still being taken. Pennsylvania put Humphrey over the top. We surged toward the front of the park. For a moment, it felt as if we were all going together in one last, suicidal assault on the Hilton. But the National Guard had already marched onto Michigan Avenue and taken positions facing us. From inside the park it looked like they had bayonets out. Someone on the bullhorn said, "Sit down, sit down, please sit down." The crowdspread out and began to sprawl on the grass. Keith and I found Abbie. He had just gotten out of jail and had come straight to Grant Park.

"They took me to four different stations. They worked me over in a couple of them," Abbie said. "This cop says to me, 'You see this gold bullet? I'm saving it for you, kid.' I told him, 'I'm not scared. I got a silver bullet. I'm the Lone Ranger.'"

Rennie Davis

Later I was back out on a trash can in front of the Hilton with my pressure Band-Aid wrapped around my head, looking like a returning war veteran denouncing the war. That picture of defiance in injury became a photograph sent around the world. In fact, when I went to Vietnam to bring prisoners of war out of Hanoi in '69 I arrived on one of the major anniversaries of the Geneva convention and all the ambassadors were gathered in this great hall, and Pham Van Dong, the prime minister of Vietnam, walked off the stage, down into the audience right up to me and said, "How's your head?"

John Schultz

Rennie was shocked by all the wounded people in the Mobe center. He had to go up and speak to the reporters and he said to Don Rose, the press coordinator for the Mobe, "What can I say?" And Rose, fishing back somewhere from a civil rights experience in the South, said, "Tell them they can't get away with it, tell them the whole world is watching." And that's exactly what he did.

Robin Palmer

Every Vietcong flag you see in any pictures of Chicago were personally made by me and Sharon Krebs. That's why I was on the indictment. They knew that, mostly because of George Demmerle, the informant who spent some time with me in Chicago. There was a lot of planned trashing in Chicago. We were making a revolution. Chicagoans were good Germans. I remember going out trashing with George; we took a big chunk of cement and put it in the back window of a Cadillac. I got busted for throwing rocks at police cars. Two or three o'clock in the morning they took me to prison and there was Jerry. They had just picked him up. They dismissed my charges because I asked Demmerle to testify.

Jerry Rubin

Wednesday was the greatest. Everybody marched down to the Hilton and that was the night that the cops started chasing me through the streets. They put me in jail and Pierson showed up in a nice blue suit, short hair slicked down. At first I didn't recognize him. He said, "You're in trouble. You're gonna be arrested for treason." I was just stunned. His great success was when I was in that park and the kids and police started fighting. I threw my sweater and screamed something from the back of the crowd and he was able to say that I had caused a riot. For throwing a sweater I got sixty days in jail.

Tom Hayden

I could see the Hilton Hotel up ahead, all lit up. You're running along this dark street, like a moth to a flame. And so the final confrontation, where they're on the street being beaten up and chanting, "The whole world is watching," was entirely spontaneous.

Bob Zmuda

That's when they did the old police wedge. They pushed the crowd from the back, to make it look as if the crowd was attacking the police. A guy went right through the plate glass. They crushed everybody against it.

Jeff Nightbyrd

The Hilton bar was right there. A guy had combat boots on, kicked the window, broke it, and everybody went storming through the plate-glass window into the bar. Here came the cops chasing them through the bar, so people tried to sit down at tables, acting like they were customers.

Tom Hayden

Everybody's hands and face were cut, their hair was full of glass and there was no place to hide. So you got beat up and then dragged through revolving doors. I don't know if you've done that but the human body is not designed to be pulled through a revolving door.

Joe LoGuidice, Chicago gallery owner

I went through the window, backwards, and the people in the bar started beating the shit out of me. I wasn't hurt, but I was bleeding. I was part of the McGovern group on the seventeenth floor. They had gotten a couple of doctors up there and they were treating head wounds so I was trying to get upstairs. I finally got off the elevator and there was this guy pushing this fucking ice machine down the hallway. It was Abbie! He says, "Give me a hand with this." So we pushed it to this window in the front, and we looked out and the whole scene's going on down there. Abbie's fucking bagging ice cubes and dropping ice cubes on the cops. You couldn't miss them, there was this rectangle of blue helmets, all packed in. The ice cubes were lethal, you could hear it when they hit one of the helmets. I saw one cop get hit and just go down. It was like getting hit with a coconut. When they figured out where it was coming from, they came up and tore the fucking place to pieces.

Robin Palmer

Chicago was when I decided to become what I thought was a communist because this was Pig America. The citadel of democracy was now behaving like Nazi Germany. In those days I thought communism was good. I oversimplified it. An enemy of your enemy is your friend.

From the New York Times Magazine, 9/15/68
The Battle of Chicago: From the Yippies' Side
By Tom Buckley

...Other Yippies say that Hoffman, to a greater extent than they, has "integrated acid into his daily life." People who have known him for a long time say that it has permanently affected his mind. One called him a "dangerous paranoid-schizophrenic." Hoffman acknowledges that he may indeed be crazy by the unimaginative and outdated standards of present-day medicine. It doesn't worry him, for he regards schizophrenics--like acidheads, users of LSD--as daring, inadequately understood voyagers into the veiled regions of their own minds.

He is unquestionably eloquent and, within the context of his unorthodox but by no means absurd system of thought, generally rational. Yet even a well-disposed listener senses a certain lack of balance.

On the last day of the convention, for example, several thousand demonstrators, turned back by the police and the National Guard (supported by an armored personnel carrier), withdrew to the equestrian statue of Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, a Civil War commander, which stands on a small rise at the south end of Grant Park.

Deputy Superintendent John Rochford of the Chicago Police attempted to reason with the of David Dellinger's assistants was counseling caution to the crowd. "I don't see any point in any more bloodshed," he said, and then handed over the microphone to Rochford.

"Sometimes the law is not what I'd like," he began. "When you move in concert and without proper permission..." His voice was drowned out by boos. "Let him have his words," someone in the crowd shouted. "Oh, hell," said another voice, "we've heard that song." But the protesters remained quiet...Then Abbie Hoffman had the microphone. "We've got one of the head cops with us," he said insinuatingly. "They won't touch us as long as we've got the head cop..."

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Excerpted from Steal This Dream by Larry Sloman. Copyright © 1998 by Larry Sloman. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.