Chicago 10

Protest Then and Now

There are obvious parallels between protests at the 1968 Chicago national political convention and those at the 2008 conventions: public demonstrations against an unpopular war, frustrations regarding party platform and practices, perceived imbalance of power and a demand for justice. Although the political climate has drastically shifted since the late 1960s, protesters at U.S. national conventions during the late 2000s are still agitating for change.

While many of the goals of demonstrators at the national conventions may remain similar, other factors—ranging from legal and social to financial and technological—have shifted the methods and perceptions of large-scale protest over the past four decades. A comparison of recent and past conventions illustrates that while the driving forces behind protest are as strong as ever, the playing field is a different: for better or for worse.

Photo of a young man looking down, his face and neck red with blood. An outstretched hand holds a microphone in front of him.

Media Coverage

Televised footage of violence at the 1968 convention shocked viewers across the nation. In 2008, the Internet provides an alternative forum to corporate media sources. Who controls the media affects how and what stories get reported. How has coverage of protest activity changed?

Find out in Media Coverage >>


“The time is ripe for massive numbers of people to become engaged politically… Real change happens when the people demand it…” Get activists’ points-of-view on protesting yesterday and today: planning protests at the 2008 RNC, post-convention results, and how they think political engagement has changed since the 1960s.

Find out in Activists >>
Black and white photo of a hand-drawn poster with the words No More Hiroshimas, No More Vietnams, March and Rally.


Mobile text messaging, email lists and the Internet galvanize protest movements today. How did anti-war demonstrators organize for the 1968 convention without these technologies?

Learn more in Organizing >>
Photo of people gathered inside a waiting room, behind glass doors that read Mayor’s Office.


Permit procedures are one way for law enforcement to regulate and control the presence of demonstrators at national conventions.

Find out how permit negotiations affected protests at the 1968 and 2008 conventions in Permits >>
Photo of policemen in helmets, one of them pushing a balding middle-aged man with a billy club.

Police Activity

Clashes between demonstrators and police were unprecedented at the 1968 Chicago convention.

Read about how police response to protestors has differed since then in Police Activity >>
Black and white headshot of J. Edgar Hoover


The government has played a far larger role in policing political dissenters at national conventions than many Americans realize.

Learn about the government surveillance of groups planning demonstrations in recent and past conventions in Surveillance >>

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