Abbie Hoffman is dead. So is Jerry Rubin. Tom Hayden, too. Their fellow protesters who disrupted the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in the last days of August 1968 are either gone or have become the very thing they once viewed with contempt: old.
But Abraham Yippie is very much alive at 73.
“It’s a long strange trip, from Daley/Nixon to Donald Trump,” said Abe Peck, now a professor emeritus at Northwestern’s Medill School, surveying the 50 years from today’s roiling political scene to when he was editor of the Chicago Seed underground newspaper, his pronouncements signed “Abraham Yippie.”
Mayor Richard J. Daley is dead. So are police Supt. James B. Conlisk and his deputy, James M. Rochford. The public officials and police officers who thought they were protecting their city from an onslaught by hippies, communists and radicals are gone or scattered.
But Officer Robert Angone is very much alive at 78.
“It was a big joke,” said Angone, then a tactical cop assigned to the Gresham District, now retired to Florida. “The SDS, Jerry Rubin’s group, Abbie Hoffman’s group — they were in a competition to get the attention they wanted. They wanted to get arrested the most, yell the loudest. We had all these goofy factions going on.
The generation that didn’t trust anybody over 30 is now in their 70s and 80s. Their crew-cut contemporaries who didn’t trust those with long hair are the same. The divide they both gazed across with mutual incomprehension and disgust is very much with us, as the earthquake events of their era reach their golden anniversaries — traditionally the moment when human memory begins a steep decline and dry history picks up the story to carry it forward into eternity.
But before that happens, stand on Michigan Avenue, in front of what was then the Conrad Hilton Hotel, and feel your eyes sting from the tear gas. Cock your head and listen, hard, for the chant, faint at first, but returning to the roar it was in Chicago that final week of August 1968.
“The whole world is watching. The whole world is watching…”
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