TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Remembering Martin Luther King

Re: Remembering Martin Luther King
17 Jan 2006 10:45:16 -0800

TELECOM Digest Editor wrote:

> We can discuss Ms. Rand another time

We should. She has a heck of a lot of good ideas, but she, like other
famous political/social commentators/writers, forget about some
critical aspects of human nature that will prevent their theories from
working. This applies to both liberals and conservatives. (The
"Kennedy wing" of the Democrats is just as clueless as the "DeLay
wing" of the Republicans).

> In 1963-67, Dr. King frequently came around Chicago. I recall his
> visits _always_ included meetings with Civil Rights activists in the
> town and he would always speak to civic and religious groups.

Chicago turned out to be a very tough nut crack. The problems and
challenges were different than the South and not as easily dealt with.

> Prior to that, they only had white
> people employed there (librarians, clerks, custodians, etc).

In northern cities, African Americans usually got service jobs, such
as janitors, housekeepers, cooks, laborers, etc., though there were
black teachers, police officers and firemen, at least in Phila. In WW
II, in response to a labor shortage, the Philadelphia Transportation
Company wanted to promote blacks from cleaners to streetcar motormen.
The rest of the motormen vehemently objected and went out on strike
shutting down the city and vital war production plants, causing a big
mess that required Federal troops to clean up.

In the 1950s blacks very slowly were permitted into better jobs, such
as a judge, school principal, TV newscaster, etc. This accelerated in
the 1960s.

> Between all that unrest in 1968, the riots in April regards King and
> again in August, when the Democrats had their riot -- err, convention
> in Chicago -- I do think the Chicago Police were in their glory,
> cracking open heads, spying on peaceful citizen groups, etc. How
> fortuitous it is that the discussion on 'domestic spying' is in the
> Digest right now

FWIW, according to Peter Jennings book, the aggressive actions of the
Chicago Police were supported by the majority of the citizenry. It is
also known now that the "demonstration" planners specifically trained
their people to provoke the cops. Up to that time, liberal use of the
nightstick was accepted by most of the public as legitimate police

In the 1950s, the criminal justice system was much smaller because a
lot of petty activity was dealt with directly by the local cops on the
beat. It is popular to demonize the cops of those days, but records
show that in their own way they were trying to make their neighborhoods
safe and teach kids proper behavior. Yes, if some kid was out of hand
he was in for a beating; today he'd be another statistic in the juve
system where he'll get beaten in the juve hall. (Great improvement,
huh?) For instance, there were some highly controversial vice squads
raids on coffeehouses. Parents and civic groups demanded those raids
because they feared youth were being corrupted by gays. The cops did
NOT go in and beat heads as is popularly suggested. Rather, the kids
present were taken to the police station and given a serious and candid
lecture about morality and how what they were doing was dangerous.
Again, this isn't what today's standards call for at all, but this is
what people felt back in those years.

As to the spying on "peaceful citizen groups", again police efforts
were supported, indeed, demanded by parents and civic leaders. We know
today that many such groups were in reality not "peaceful" but planning
disruptive activities for the sole purpose of disruptiing commerce or
education. Some former radicals of the past have written memoirs
admitting this. Parents did not appreciate the college education of
their kids being disrupted. Small business people didn't appreciate
their little stores being targeted as "part of the man" and disrupted.
A great many college students of those days participating in their
"civil disobediance" were blissfully unaware of the collateral damge
they did to innocent people caught in the middle.

I know a lot of people proudly defend "civil disobediance" and the
1960s. But they forget that that sort of thing works both ways. Today
we have "civil disobediance" in the blockades of abortion clinics, for
example, and aggressive actions to block to stop marijuanna for
legitimate medical purposes.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: I remember all the commotion downtown
the day of the 1968 Democratic convention riots and the next day as
well. Almost all the offices downtown closed early that day, urging
people to go home _and stay home the next day_ unless things got
different. On the Sunday before (the start of the convention week)
police went through the south end of Lincoln Park gassing everyone who
dared to sit in the park. In a couple cases, they went into a
restaurant at North Avenue and Clark Street and smashed up the whole
restaurant as they dragged some of what they percieved to be 'war
protestors' out of the place. It was like that mess in New York last
summer during the convention at Madison Square Garden. Thousands of
people just swept up off the street and put in jail. But in Chicago,
in 1968, the main event was the Battle of Michigan Avenue on the
Wednesday of convention week. Two friends and I were having a meal in
the dining room at the Conrad Hilton Hotel when that large plate glass
window got broken out and police swarmed through the place. It was
like one of those 'throw a pie at someone' as we would see in those
old Three Stooges movies. People there in the Hilton Hotel were
getting attacked, assaulted with plates of food, etc. My friend had
a plate of mashed potatoes and gravy hit him, gravy and potatoes
running down his shirt and trousers, etc. Other patrons settled for
cream pies, etc.

About two years ago I received a letter here from someone who said
he had been "a long time supporter here but because of the way I had
been talking in print about police, he was withdrawing his support."
I asked him if he was aware that even the Illinois governor had
declared police behavior that week to be a 'police riot'. Police
objected to that characterization, of course. PAT]

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