Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October 11, 1969 -- A Day of Rage

October 11, 1969 – A march through the Loop by 300 members of the Students for a Democratic Society breaks bad as police face off against “demonstrators, using tire chains, clubs, railroad flares, and their fists smashed windows and fought a running battle … in the three-block area from La Salle street to State street.” [Chicago Tribune, October 12, 1969] When things finally wind down 105 demonstrators are under arrest, 27 police officers have been injured and two corporation counsels are hurt with one of them, Richard Elrod, suffering permanent paralysis when he attempts to tackle a demonstrator fleeing police. The march is supposed to proceed down LaSalle Street to Jackson Boulevard, but it breaks apart a half-mile north at Madison Street and marchers head east, smashing windows in 15 buildings as they run.  After the Loop is cleared, Governor Richard Ogilvie calls 300 Illinois national guardsmen into the area, but by 7:00 p.m., concluding that the trouble is at an end, he releases all 2,600 guardsmen on alert in the city since they had been summoned earlier in the week.

October 11, 1918 – A city commission passes a resolution that all public dancing must be stopped in order to check the influenza-pneumonia epidemic.  Dr. C. St. Clair Drake, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, says, “The order will take effect at once.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, October 12, 1913]  The commission also adopts a resolution that “attendance at all funerals, contagious disease or otherwise, shall be restricted to the immediate relatives, close friends and necessary attendants.”  In the 24 hours before the commission adopts its resolutions 124 people in the city have died of influenza and 89 from pneumonia.   The commission orders the cancelling of all dances as a necessary step “because of the close contact of the dancers, the exercise of the dance and the frequent chilling of the body that is apt to follow.”  The 1918 pandemic, believed to have begun in a French hospital processing soldiers wounded in the war, led to the deaths of between 50 and 100 million worldwide.  According to the digital encyclopedia at  “Between the start of Chicago’s epidemic on September 21 and the removal of restrictions on November 16, the Windy City experienced a staggering 38,000 cases of influenza and 13,000 cases of pneumonia . . . Yet, despite these numbers, Chicago actually did fairly well for a city of its size.  In fact, with a population of 2.7 million, Chicago’s epidemic death rate for the period was only 373 out of 100,000, not much worse than much touted its long-time rival St. Louis.”

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