Occupy Chicago protesters are writing another chapter in a long history of dissent in this city. Here are 10 demonstrated facts:
1 Chicago has never landed an Olympics, but in 1932 it hosted a "counter-Olympics." The event was organized by American communists as a protest against racism and nationalism, which they found on display at that year's real Olympics in Los Angeles. The alternative event, held at the University of Chicago and officially called the International Workers Athletic Meet, featured competitors wearing signs such as "Free Tom Mooney," in support of a labor activist convicted in a fatal bombing.
2 When the Chicago Board Options Exchange instituted a dress code in 1977 that banned blue jeans, T-shirts and halter tops, some traders protested by wearing tuxedos. CBOE officials decided not to levy fines for the stunt, but some colleagues grumbled about the traders' "childish behavior."
3 In August 1966, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led about 350 protesters on a march through the Southwest Side to advocate for open housing. They were met by a mob of more than 4,000 who threw rocks, bottles, firecrackers and curses. King himself was knocked to the ground when a rock hit him in the back of the head. "I have seen many demonstrations in the South, but I have never seen anything so hostile and so hateful as I've seen here today." (This national news story somehow didn't lead the next day's Tribune. The paper's editors opted for the College All-Star Game at Soldier Field.)
4 Remember the famous clashes between police and demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic National Convention? Didn't happen. At least they didn't happen anywhere near the convention. The Democrats met at the old International Amphitheatre at 42nd and Halsted while the major confrontations were around Grant Park (about four miles away) and Lincoln Park (more than seven miles away).
5 Chicago officials, who were determined that the 1996 Democratic Convention not be a repeat of 1968, set up "designated protest areas" and required activists to participate in a lottery for protest times. The Lesbian Avengers of Chicago were turned down when they sought permission to eat fire as part of their protest. City officials deemed it unsafe.
6 When Southwest Side residents protested in 1910 about the vile condition of Bubbly Creek and other nearby garbage dumps and demanded the city clean it up, the health commissioner blamed them for living in such conditions. And while he conceded the local dumps were a problem, he insisted: "A typhoid germ could not live in Bubbly Creek. That unspeakable filth would strangle a typhoid germ."
7 For most of the last century, one group of people could be counted on to attend many Chicago protests: police spies. By one count in 1960, the Chicago Police Department's Red Squad had gathered information on about 117,000 Chicagoans and 141,000 people from out of town. Its illegal surveillance of dissidents was put to an end by a court ruling in 1985.
8 The aggrieved class of citizens known as North Shore teenagers staged a protest in July 1988 at the Lake Forest Mini-Mart, complaining that they were not permitted to hang out there or use the bathroom. One sign read: "Open the laboratory."
9 Chicago fluoridated its water in 1956. A small but voluble group of protesters argued it was mass medication and illegal. They picketed City Hall with signs that asked: "Is Mayor Daley our Pied Piper?" and "Why drink rat poison?"
10 When Elvis Presley was inducted into the Army in 1958, schoolgirls wore dog tags bearing Elvis's name, serial number and blood type. But Jones Commercial High School in downtown Chicago banned the practice, setting off a protest by schoolgirls, who held a large banner declaring that the school was "Unfair to Elvis Presley."
Mark Jacob is a deputy metro editor for the Tribune; Stephan Benzkofer is the Tribune's weekend editor.
Sources: "Red Chicago: American Communism at Its Grassroots, 1928-35" by Randi Storch; "A People's History of Sports in the United States" by Dave Zirin; Encyclopedia of Chicago; Tribune archives.