Jewish Groups Denounce Chicago Convention Police, Ask U.S. Probe

Police actions against newsmen and peace demonstrators in Chicago last night during the Democratic national convention were strongly denounced today in separate statements by the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the (Reform) Union of American Hebrew Congregations. The ADL and the UAHC called for a Federal investigation of the police actions.

Arthur J. Goldberg, the AJCommittee’s new president, said his organization “unconditionally condemns last night’s brutality, and any brutality in dealing with peaceful demonstrators,” as well as “arbitrary attempts by public officials to gag news coverage and curb expressions of opinion.” The statement called on Presidential nominees Hubert H. Humphrey and Richard M. Nixon, “as well as on all other candidates for office, to pledge that they will not be parties to such methods.” Mr. Goldberg noted that Vice President Humphrey, in referring to the events last night, “has voiced his strongest disapproval of what he called storm trooper tactics, whether on the part of dissidents or police.” In assailing the attacks on “unarmed peace demonstrators” and newsmen, Mr. Goldberg urged the Presidential nominees to frame “fair-campaign guidelines” which would safeguard the rights of all citizens to engage in “free and open debate” on the streets to voice peaceful dissent.

Mr. Goldberg declared that the Chicago “tragedy” had underlined the need for the nation to “immediate redouble its efforts and funds to modernize law enforcement methods” and that it had shown that there would be no peace on the streets “until those responsible for public order substitute understanding and respect for clubs and fists in dealing with persons peaceably assembled to air their grievances – and until our society as a whole is ready to deal fairly with these grievances.”

Both Dore Schary, ADL chairman, and Earl Morse, board chairman of the UAHC, called on U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark to take action. Mr. Schary said “the incredible scenes” last night were a “dreadful public exhibition, seen by millions on television,” which “besmirched the democratic process.” Adding that while undoubtedly there was “provocation” by some anti-war demonstrators, he said there was also “clear evidence of excessive and brutal police response,” which he called a reflection “on a city administration which became a victim of its own overkill protection policy.” He noted that Mr. Clark had already ordered an investigation “in the cases of over 20 newsmen beaten by panicky security men.” He asked Mr. Clark to order a Federal grand Jury probe in Illinois of the police actions and of any violations of the civil rights of demonstrators because “the American people are entitled to know what is to be done in the cases of perhaps hundreds of young people and bystanders” injured last night.

Mr. Morse, in asking immediate Justice Department investigation of the “brutal repression of the right of young people peaceably to assemble, petition and protest,” as well as of the right of newsmen to perform their tasks, called the violence in Chicago “a symptom of a profound national illness”which can be “cured neither by the nightstick nor by anarchy” but only by “the building of a decent society which respects law and demands Justice.” Warning that “pious cliches about law and order will not prevent” such events, he asserted that “the savagery in Chicago must shock the nation, and especially its religious bodies, into an urgent and immediate effort to knit the fabric of American life,”

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