Saturday, October 11, 2008

Judge Richard Elrod Tells about the Day the Weather Underground Riots Left Him Paralysed

[Chicago attorney] Elrod [paralysed, on left] says he counseled against shutting the Saturday march down. "I told him, ‘Mr. Mayor, if you call it off they're just going to court and it will be like the Selma [Alabama civil rights] march. The federal courts will order that they be allowed to peacefully demonstrate.'" Today, Elrod acknowledges the irony of the moment. "I think I was the only one arguing for it to go forward," he says. "Maybe be­cause I convinced [Daley], or maybe because he changed his mind on his own, he said, ‘All right, let 'em march.'"---Chicago Magazine (December 2006)

Our law enforcement officers are sometimes killed or injured trying to uphold the law. Some terrorists who are now college professors call our law officers "pigs," so I thought I would tell about a young law officer who was badly injured trying to uphold the law. I think the college professor-terrorists are the pigs.

The man on the left who lies paralysed in this photo is a young Chicago city attorney named Richard Elrod. The man on the right is a Weather Underground rioter named Brian Flanagan. The picture was taken on 10-11-69 during the Weather Underground Chicago riots called the "Days of Rage." In 1969, Mr. Elrod was a young city attorney who advised Mayor Daley on the law; now he is a judge. You can see his picture when you read this article. I am glad that Judge Elrod was able to have a full life in spite of his injuries.

The Chicago Magazine (December 2006) offers divergent accounts of what happened during the Weather Underground's "Days of Rage."

The article notes:

Originally a faction of the more peaceful but increasingly splintered SDS-Students for a Democratic Society-Weatherman rose from the ashes of what was being perceived as a failed opposition to the seemingly interminable war in Vietnam. Unlike SDS, Weatherman-which took its name from the lyric in Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" ("You don't need a weatherman / To know which way the wind blows")-not only believed in violence as a way to achieve its agenda, but put those beliefs into practice by way of random, bloody attacks. The targets included anyone who did not support their cause of ending the Vietnam War, including innocent bystanders...

By the summer of 1969, they had already begun to do so, though on a small scale. To spark the revolution they sought-which they hoped would result in the overthrow of the U.S. government-they needed to make a splash. They needed a battlefield, a place they felt would both grab attention and serve as a symbol. In June of that year, they settled on what was for them the perfect spot, the city they called "pig town"-Chicago. "It is here that thousands of young people faced the blind terror of the military state" during the police crackdown on demonstrators during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, their leaders wrote. "And it was also here that those same people began to fight back-to struggle against the betrayal, the lies, the oppressiveness, and the brutality of the state."

Thus did Weatherman point the barrel of its Days of Rage at Chicago with rhetoric both brazen and ominous: "We came to Chicago to . . . tear the m----- f----r apart," the leaders boasted in a leaflet. In New Left Notes, they said, "We came to attack-because we know that the only things to defend in honkie Amerika are the privileges-the cars, the apartments, the hotels, the TVs . . . It was [to be] war-we knew it and the pigs knew it."

The protest, scheduled to take place over four days beginning October 8, 1969, was being billed as a sort of coming-out party for the group and its philosophy of achieving social justice through the use of guerrilla attacks and campus rebellions. Already, Weatherman representatives had fanned out across the country to recruit college dissidents and disaffected working-class youth. The protest's planners hoped to lure thousands to Chicago. There, the recruits would join with members of Weatherman for a bloody battle against police on a scale previously unseen. Thus ideologically armed, Flanagan, a member of Weatherman's New York chapter, packed his car in early October and left Manhattan, bound for Chicago...

Elrod again found himself in the eye of the storm. On the morning of October 11th, after determining charges that would be placed against some protesters arrested overnight, he and several other city officials attended a meeting called by Mayor Richard J. Daley.

The topic was the culmination of the week's protests-a march scheduled for around one o'clock that afternoon. Permits secured by Weatherman had determined that the demonstration was to proceed east on Randolph to LaSalle, south on LaSalle to Madison, then end at Madison and State.

Now, however, just hours before the event was to begin, the mayor was having second thoughts, Elrod recalls. "He wasn't sure it should proceed because of the violence of the previous days," Elrod says. Daley's concern was prompted by several incidents involving the Weatherman. Two days earlier, for instance, several hundred members of the group, wearing football and motorcycle helmets and steel-toed shoes and brandishing pipes and rocks, had surged into the Gold Coast, smashing windows, overturning cars, burning benches, and beating up bystanders.

The protesters, who had taken police by surprise, rampaged for nearly half an hour before officers beat them back with Mace and billy clubs. "Scores of pigs" were injured, the leaders would later brag in New Left Notes. In fact, 21 officers had suffered wounds, including an undercover policeman who was severely beaten after his cover had been blown. The melee had come on the heels of an even more spectacular attack, when Weatherman members dynamited the nine-foot statue of a policeman commemorating officers who died in the 1886 Haymarket riot.

Despite the mayor's concerns, Elrod says he counseled against shutting the Saturday march down. "I told him, ‘Mr. Mayor, if you call it off they're just going to court and it will be like the Selma [Alabama civil rights] march. The federal courts will order that they be allowed to peacefully demonstrate.'" Today, Elrod acknowledges the irony of the moment. "I think I was the only one arguing for it to go forward," he says. "Maybe be­cause I convinced [Daley], or maybe because he changed his mind on his own, he said, ‘All right, let 'em march.'"...

Elrod hoped the event would be peaceful, though nothing in the preceding days had suggested that would be the case. Meanwhile, as if the pall of tension already hanging over the city weren't enough, a police official, the head of the Chicago Police Sergeants' Association, sounded an ominous warning: "SDS has declared war on the Chicago Police," he said, according to Weatherman's New Left Notes. "From here on it's kill or be killed."...

At Madison and State, Elrod watched the mayhem unfold. Protesters charged wildly through the streets, attacking the police and then being repulsed by them. Officers beat on protesters and bystanders alike. Standing next to a reporter from WBBM radio, Elrod relayed intelligence to city officials over a walkie-talkie.

Suddenly, a flash drew Elrod's attention. From down the street, he saw Flanagan running from an undercover officer. "What's going on?" Elrod recalls the reporter asking. "And then I just remember seeing this person and the police behind him saying, ‘Stop! Stop!' So I said, ‘Excuse me,' and put down my walkie-talkie and I took off toward him." Elrod, once a linebacker for the Northwestern Wildcats, streaked through the crowd, headed toward Flanagan. [See the full text.]

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