Precursors to Today’s Police Violence

On January 13, 2017, the Department of Justice released the results of their 13-month investigation into the Chicago Police Department in a 166-page report. The report tells of dangerous patterns of unwarranted killings, civil-rights abuses, discrimination, and officers acting with impunity.

In light of these findings, we have taken a look back through our archives to pinpoint some historical roots of these complicated, longstanding conflicts.

We look at the “Shoot to Kill” order given by Mayor Richard J. Daley in April 1968 as a crucial starting point for 50 years of conflict between police and dissenting groups.

Next, we examine the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the large-scale protests demonstrating the unpopularity of “Lyndon Johnson’s” Vietnam War.

In many ways, this was a turning point for mainstream America’s attitude about the police, as images of protesters being beaten were shown on TV across the country. Michigan Avenue was filled with hundreds of people of all ages shouting and repeating, “The Whole World is Watching.” It was the first time the networks broadcasted extended live coverage of a street event like this. It was 11 months before the televised moon landing.

Finally, we show footage from the remarkable film The Murder of Fred Hampton, and the institutional deception that went into concealing that his murder occurred while he was lying in his bed sleeping.

From this retrospective viewpoint, the results of the Department of Justice investigation become visually distressing; it becomes clear that the historical problems that have plagued Chicago remain chronic issues today.


Mayor Richard J. Daley gives “shoot to kill” order, April 1968


1968 Democratic National Convention
Featuring footage from:
Daley (Tom Weinberg, 1986)
American Revolution II: Battle of Chicago (The Film Group, 1969)


The Murder of Fred Hampton

Watch the full version of The Film Group’s seminal documentary, “The Murder of Fred Hampton,”
Part 1
Part 2



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