NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 24: Occupy Wall Street protesters protest in Union Square at the end of a march from Zuccotti Park to Union Square on March 24, 2012 in New York City. The Occupy Wall Street movement has seen a resurgence in recent weeks in part due to new protests over the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Every Saturday, during the Bush Administration, as I was driving to the station to do my radio show, there were anti-war demonstrators on the courthouse lawn on Main Street.

Rain or shine they were there with their signs denouncing the president and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the Saturday following the election of Barack Obama they disappeared. I have not seen them since.

What Can We Learn From the Past?

Anyone remember the 1968 Democrat Party convention in Chicago? Here’s a reminder video for those who’ve forgotten or were too young to remember.

Who were the anti-war demonstrators at the ’68 convention?

Who Were The Demonstrators in 1968?

Since it was a Democrat National Convention the knee jerk reaction would be that the demonstrators would almost certainly have been Republican protesters. If that was the case then who were the demonstrators at the 68 Republican Convention?

The Republican Convention of 1968

The 1968 Republican Convention was held from August 5 - 8 in Miami Beach, Florida and was protested as just as much as the Chicago convention. The big difference was the fact that the demonstrators were more peaceful mostly due to the actions of the Florida police who were accustomed to spring break visitors getting a little rowdy and overzealous.

Over 3,000 demonstrators attended the 72’ Republican convention as the war was winding down.

The Democrat Party Convention of 1968

Ten thousand demonstrators clashed with 23,000 police on the streets in front of the Democrat Party Convention. Their chants of “The Whole World Is Watching,” turned out to be very true. Mayor Richard Daly’s police force was showcased for its brutality.

However, after the convention, public sentiment was on the side of the Mayor. Public opinion polls showed that the majority of American’s supported the Mayor’s tactics. Mayor Daley received 135,000 letters of support verses only 5,000 who felt the police overstepped their bounds.

The Chicago Seven

The famed Chicago Seven were actually the Chicago Eight. I guess eight was too many to remember. The Justice Department brought charges against some familiar names to those of us who were around at that time.  Abbie Hoffman, Tom Hayden, David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Jerry Rubin, Lee Weiner, and Bobby Seale were charged with conspiracy and incitement to riot charges.

They were convicted and sentenced but the verdict was overturned on appeal due to the FBI illegally wire tapping defense attorneys and the government decided that going further was not worth the effort.

Some Final Thoughts

The demonstrators at the 1968 Democrat Party Convention were neither Republican nor Democrat at the time. They were anti-war. And they did not care who was in office and that is why they demonstrated at both conventions.

In fact they were actually “anti-establishment” even more than anti-war. They resented government taking more control over education and indoctrination of students in the classroom.

Today demonstrations are only based on party partisanship. It’s a shame that people with a purpose, a cause, or passion have to feel they must be politically accepted by a political ideology before taking to the streets. I long for the demonstrators of the 60s who took up a cause because they thought it was right. Not because some party ideology told them to.