Daley Heard on Newly-Released LBJ Tapes

Private tape-recorded conversations between President Lyndon B. Johnson and late mayor Richard J. Daley provide new insight into Chicago history.

One conversation, held 40 years ago Thursday, on December 4, 1968, begins with pleasantries, but Daley quickly gets to business.

In the nearly four minute conversation, Daley is heard urging the president to his then-Attorney General Ramsey Clark about the "Chicago Seven," young men who were part of the protests of the Democratic Convention that August in Chicago.

"If you could prevail upon Clark, our fellas down there today, and Clark is inclined not to want to indict for a conspiracy to riot," Daley is heard saying. "The fellas that have been plaguing you for three or four years, (David) Dellinger and (Tom) Hayden and (Rennie) Davis and (Abbie) Hoffman. I wonder if you try to bolster him up a little bit. If you don't, they'll end up... all they'll indict is Chicago Police and they'll let the people who caused the riots out here go scott free."

During the convention that year, the height of the Vietnam War, police were caught on camera beating protestors.

[MP3:Sept. 7, 1968 conversation with Richard J. Daley]
[MP3:Dec. 4, 1968 conversation with Richard J. Daley]

Johnson: "Does the district attorney feel he has the evidence he thinks needs on this?"

Daley: "He had the evidence and he has to get the OK of the attorney general, and he's down there today, and the word around is that the attorney general won't approve it."

Johnson: I think if he doesn't get it... I don't know what this attorney genearl will do. We'll talk to him, but I think if he doesn't get it, he ought to just go on anwyay."

Daley: "Well, he can't under the recent civil rights act. You have to have the permission of the attorney general. If we come out with some indictment on these men it will sort of justify us."

The Chicago Seven were eventually indicted, but with the permission of a different attorney general.

All seven were found not guilty of conspiracy in 1970. Two, John Froines and Lee Weiner, were acquitted completely, while the remaining five were convicted of crossing state lines with the intent to incite a riot.

All of the charges were reversed on appeal two years later.

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