Did Barack Obama yank the G-8 summit from Chicago to avoid becoming Hubert Hussein Humphrey?
Throughout the runup to the summit, both protestors and city officials had raised the specter of 1968, when anti-war riots and police brutality outside the Democratic National Convention helped ruin Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s presidential campaign against Richard Nixon. Humphrey was in Chicago to accept the nomination, and did nothing to condemn the violence.
Adbusters, the magazine that spawned the Occupy movement, and was organizing protests against the G-8 summit, produced a placard with a photo of police beating protesters in Grant Park, and inviting activists to come to Chicago “in the tradition of the Chicago 8.”
Ald. Ricardo Munoz is sponsoring an ordinance that would have prevented police from shutting down wireless communication during demonstrations.
“Chicago has a really storied history of violating 1st Amendment rights, of police brutality” going back to 1968, Munoz told Ward Room. “What I’m going to do is send a signal that in Chicago, we will not tolerate police officers trampling on protestors’ rights.”
The White House said it moved the meeting to Camp David “to facilitate a free-flowing discussion with our close G-8 partners,” but others saw political motivations. According to the Tribune:
“I think he’s heard from some of his friends (asking), ‘What’s this going to do to our town?’” said David Yepsen, a veteran of presidential politics who heads the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. “And the calculation was that people were coming to town to do violence, disrupt things and he doesn't want to get that stain on him.”
Memories of violent clashes in Chicago between police and protestors during the 1968 Democratic convention still linger, and security experts said moving G-8 out of the city reduces chances for a repeat.
“The G-8 has always been the more antagonistic event with respect to protesters,” said Jeffrey Cramer, head of the Chicago office of Kroll Inc., a security consulting firm. “You’ve lessened the chance for that kind of craziness by moving it to the most secure compound in the world.”
Chicago is Obama’s hometown, and he’s bringing the NATO summit here, so if there’s any violence, Republicans will try to pin it to him. But he’ll be in Camp David, where he hopes to insulate himself from both protests and politics.
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