What Trees Do They Plant?

"What Trees Do They Plant" is a film produced by the City of Chicago as a response to criticism of the way the Chicago Police Department treated protesters during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Its claim is that the Yippies conducted a deliberate campaign to disrupt the city and harm the police.

0:07Copy video clip URL A title card announces that the program was made by the City of Chicago. 

0:21Copy video clip URL A speech referencing a “National Liberation Front” in downtown Chicago. 

0:29Copy video clip URL Crowds gather on the sidewalk of Michigan Ave. “Presented as a Public Service by the City of Chicago.” 

0:45Copy video clip URL Protesters clash with police in Grant Park. Smoke gathers. 

0:56Copy video clip URL Illinois Army National Guard forces arrive. 

01:02Copy video clip URL Protesters march down Michigan Ave.

01:30Copy video clip URL Title over footage of marches and chanting and police confrontations. “What Trees Do They Plant? A Henry Ushijima Production. Strategy of a Confrontation.” 

02:16Copy video clip URL The narrator discusses the Village Voice and other underground press’s reporting of Jerry Rubin’s calls to disrupt the Democratic National Convention and other promotion among the Left to stage “The Battle of the Century” in Chicago during the DNC.

02:58Copy video clip URL Captain Thomas J. Lyons, the Director of Intelligence for the Chicago Police Department, discusses for demonstrators to “disrupt the city” during the convention, information they learned from “newspaper articles, articles in the underground press, which is used by the hippie movement in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and other cities. There were public statements made by several leaders throughout the country of the Left wing organizations that they were going to confront the Democratic National Convention, which they termed as ‘the death party.’ The underground press repeatedly printed threats of disruption of the city itself, things such as lootings, public fornication, mass sit-downs in the Loop area, the taking over of buildings. There were reports in the underground press that LSD would be put in the water system. There was also information from other intelligence units or agencies throughout the country that there were plans to put ground glass in the food of the delegates. And we also received information of plans of a plot to firebomb Grant Park garage…” Further plans from “the hippie movement” or “the Yippie element” to carry out violent attacks. 

04:09Copy video clip URL Lyons claims that the violent groups seen earlier in the footage had planned to unleash various acts of terrorism upon the City of Chicago, its citizens, and the local, state, and national politicians that would be at the Convention. 

05:17Copy video clip URL Undercover Chicago Police Officer Robert Pierson declares that protesters “want to take over the country. They want to completely stop our democratic system of government.” 

05:32Copy video clip URL Lyons asserts that the protesters have a history of disruption. 

05:48Copy video clip URL Footage of David Dellinger, the Chairman of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, claiming that “we came to take action in the streets.” 

06:01Copy video clip URL Chicago Chairman of the National Mobilization Committee, Rennie Davis, discusses training people in electronic equipment, first aid, and “highly mobile defensive tactics. Lyons discusses Davis and Tom Hayden. 

06:35Copy video clip URL Hayden declares that tens of thousands of people will arrive in Chicago with or without permits. Lyons talks about Hayden’s role in Students for a Democratic Society. 

06:55Copy video clip URL Footage of Jerry Rubin discusses the need for revolution. Lyons discusses Rubin’s role in “problems” in Berkeley and New York, and the role of him, Hayden, Dellinger, and Davis in planning “major disruptions in organized society.” 

07:34Copy video clip URL Footage of protesters practicing “snake dancing” and other combat or defensive tactics. Lyons discusses infiltration of the protest groups by law enforcement officers and the extent of planning and preparation by the protesters. The underground press alerting protesters to locations around the convention and routes used by delegates. 

10:40Copy video clip URL Footage of The Festival of Life, August 1968 event in Lincoln Park hosted by the National Mobilization Committee, for which the city refused a permit. 

13:20Copy video clip URL Dellinger speaks with reporters about the “emergency” created by the size of the crowd and the city’s lack of accommodations. Difficulties in getting a meeting with the mayor. Davis asserts that it is “quite clear that the city is preparing for a police state and martial law” and that they think “it’s more urgent now than before” that protesters come to Chicago for the DNC but that they are not coming to Chicago to confront law enforcement. 

16:13Copy video clip URL Chicago City Attorney, Raymond Simon, discusses accommodations made to protesters and conflicts with Davis over locations. 

16:53Copy video clip URL Mayor Richard J. Daley, asserts that violence will only be caused by people from out of town coming to Chicago for the purpose of causing violence. 

17:00Copy video clip URL Footage of protesters in the park. The narrator discusses the legal decisions regarding protest permits. “As followers of the hardcore radicals poured into the city from all over the nation they had three objectives: 1) Disrupt the convention, 2) Paralyze the city, and, 3) Discredit the government by discrediting the police.” 

18:07Copy video clip URL Footage of the march on August 22 and the scene in Grant Park. The narrator declares that “Though the march was peaceful, the chants were not. In Yippie parlance, ‘Kill the pigs’ means “Kill the police. Kill the cops.’ As for peace, they demonstrate their concepts and sentiments by planting the red flag of revolution and the Viet Cong flag on the statue of Civil War general Logan.”

21:12Copy video clip URL “The police arrive and pull down the offensive flags.” The narrator asserts that the scene in Grant Park fulfills the protesters’ objective to create a confrontation with the police.

21:48Copy video clip URL Commander R.F. Rock of the Los Angeles Police Department discusses the confrontation between police and protesters. Footage of property damage and confrontations. Rock shares his opinion that there was unlawful assembly by the protesters and that the police would have been correct to arrest anyone who did not disperse. Police spray tear gas into the crowd. 

23:47Copy video clip URL Daytime footage of the crowd on Wednesday, August 28. “Day of confrontation, according plan,” the narrator says. “Their goal was to disrupt the convention. They were unwilling to accept majority vote at the convention. Their contempt for the government of the United States is shown as the American flag is lowered to half mast.”

25:25Copy video clip URL Unrest and confrontation between police and protesters. “An attempt is made to hoist the black flag of anarchy.”

26:20Copy video clip URL Discussion of the makeup of the crowd, including those wearing “Castro-type costumes” and using “language [that is] wild and revolutionary.” The police move through the crowd. 

27:20Copy video clip URL Violent confrontations between police and protesters. Further talk of the objectives of the protesters. “Again and again the charge is made that there will be a march to the amphitheater. In spite of police. In spite of the law. This too according to their design.” 

29:43Copy video clip URL The protesters lock elbows for what the narrator describes as “an illegal march to the amphitheater.” More violence and milling about. 

31:20Copy video clip URL Rock discusses the protesters’ plans to march despite not being granted permits, and the options offered to protesters who did not wish to join the march and who wished to remain “unmolested” by the police. Assertions of the “acts of restraint that were really beyond reason” on the part of the police to accommodate protesters. 

33:57Copy video clip URL Protesters on Michigan Ave. outside of the Hilton. “Stationed across Michigan Avenue are the Chicago police. Their mission: to keep the Hilton secure. And to accomplish this, they must keep the streets clear. In the middle, trapped within the turbulent crowd, is the Poor Peoples Campaign. Rev. Ralph Abernathy and his followers have to rescued by the police from the surging, menacing mob.” 

35:12Copy video clip URL The clash at 7:57pm. “Now, the moment of confrontation arrives. It cannot be avoided.” The narrator frames the Battle of Michigan Ave as necessary action by the police and points out that no guns were fired and no one was killed. 

37:06Copy video clip URL Friday, August 30. “The emergency was over and the world heard about it in different ways. A radio broadcast from Cuba, including a message from Dellinger. 

37:50Copy video clip URL Commander James J. Riordan of the Central District of the Chicago Police Department discusses weapons and other materials used by protesters during the confrontation. 

40:25Copy video clip URL Officer Gregory Kyritz of the Chicago Police Department discusses his injuries sustained during the protest when a rock hit him in the face. He doesn’t think the violence that night was that bad, and he says that the media only showed “the reaction, not the initial action” that police were responding to. 

42:04Copy video clip URL Harry Homewood, editorial writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, speaks with Prof. Richard C. Wade of the University of Chicago about a “middle ground” between polarized depictions of police and protesters. 

43:53Copy video clip URL Jerry Rubin observes that no city could have hosted the DNC without protests or disruptions “because the Democratic Party has blood on its hands.” He likens the violence during the protests to the

45:06Copy video clip URL Deputy Superintendent James M. Rochford of the Chicago Police Department describes the protests as an attempt by protesters to “take over the streets of Chicago.” 

46:06Copy video clip URL Wade discusses the radical Left and the radical Right and asserts that “the big loser is the decent center of American politics.” 

47:28Copy video clip URL Bobbe Brown, a student at Columbia University, discusses the “large popular support” against the war in Vietnam. She doesn’t believe that “agitators” could have gotten such large crowds on their own. 

48:04Copy video clip URL Robert J. Garber of the Chicago Police Department discusses fighting the protesters because he felt his life was in danger. 

49:58Copy video clip URL Reporter Robert “Bob” Hunter of the Chicago Daily Defender explains how police could have accidentally beaten journalists whose credentials were not sufficiently visible and the “unfair” criticisms of Chicago police. 

51:15Copy video clip URL Wade asserts that blame is shared across “both sides” and that those who were violent should be disciplined. 

51:30Copy video clip URL Deputy Chief of Patrol Robert J. Lynskey of the Chicago Police Department discusses the internal investigations into police violence. 

52:08Copy video clip URL Reporter Walter Cronkite speaks with Daley on the air. Daley asserts that there were plans to assassinate three presidential candidates and “many” other political leaders, including himself. He invokes the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy in asserting the necessity of his actions. Cronkite comments on the “lightness and the genuine friendliness of the Chicago Police Department.” They acknowledge their difference and Daley says that’s not a “reason why we can’t be friends” as they shake hands. 

55:27Copy video clip URL Keith Lampey talks about the protesters needing to go “very literally underground,” which he likens to underground movements against oppressive governments in Spain and Czechoslovakia. 

56:34Copy video clip URL Footage of debris and property damage. Audio of a speech declaring “We’re going back to create 200-300 Chicagos in our local communities.” The narrator asserts “The extremists will fail. Our cities were not built to become the targets of anarchy. Trees of liberty spring from the roots of our constitution, from the Bill of Rights, from justice and compassion. What trees do they plant?”

57:15Copy video clip URL End credits. 



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