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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, No. 25. October 8, 1968

Watts in the States

page 2

Watts in the States

Photo of Barrie Watts, New Zealand journalist.

"All America saw at the Democratic Convention that Hubert Humphrey is not the Democratic Party candidate at all," said Mr Barrie Watts (left), a New Zealand journalist who attended both party conventions in the U.S.A. this vear.

"It was a railroad job."

"Humphrey will go down down screaming and he will take all the reactionaries in the party with him, leaving the liberals in a very strong position to ask for managerial control in 1972."

Mr Watts was speaking at the University at the invitation of the Labour Club.

"It was a hell of a scrap," he said. "A real ripper."

"What I really wanted to tell you about was the night of the nomination," he said.

"Then was the worst outbreak of violence.

"They were not riots, nobody was rioting; it was plain police brutality.

"A fact not mentioned in much of the Republican and Democratic Press was that the demonstrators who were outside the hotels had been granted a license by the Chicago police to be there."

Mr Watts said he was at the convention hall when he heard through the television outside broadcasts that the police, followed by the National Guard, were approaching the demonstrators.

He said he went down to the scene and sheltered on the roof of a C.B.S. van.

"The young people were packed in the street and the police were walking towards them.

"Thev looked like 21st century Buck Rogers stormtroopers in their baby-blue shirts, tailored at the waist; tight black pants and great big, black boots.

"They were a terrible, anonymous force coming along the street, and then they came in, splintering off in all directions and swinging their clubs.

"They laid about them with terrible effect." he said.

"I was pleased to see the National Guard behind them removing their bayonets and sticking them in their webbing; they must have thought it would be a push-over job.

"The injured were helped by guests from the hotels, those who weren't pursued through the hotel by the police."

Mr Watts said the National Guard cleaned up the bodies on the street.

"They worked three to a body, slipping their rifles underneath and making a a sort of a pallet to throw it in the great truck behind them.

"There were 10,000 Federal troops ringing the town with tanks, planes and helicopters.

"All in all it was a little bit one-sided.

"When it became too much, and I couldn't watch it any more I went back to my hotel to watch the nomination on T.V.

Mr Watts said the liberals were staging a "terrific rally", and were attempting to move that the Convention be reconvened two weeks hence.

But the chairman was refusing to accept the motion every time it was attempted.

"The Convention never actually voted on the issue." said Mr Watts.

"There was a surge of fighting on the floor as reactionaries somersaulted over seats to attack liberals.

"Then the chairman would disallow the motion, it would be proposed again, and the fighting would resume.

Mr Watts said the Convention "really went wild" when the New York delegation attempted a motion of censure of police, administrators and Mayor Daley.

"The camera zeroed in on Daley's great, fat face which was mouthing terrible things which I couldn't hear because there was no sound boom near.

"He picked up a white telephone and spoke into it for about 10 seconds.

"Then, in came the police and out went the liberal delegations.

"Then Humphrey was elected and it was alt over; nobody else really had a chance.

"I found it hard to believe the scenes shown before the fascinated gaze of millions of people."

The playwright, Arthur Miller, had said the next day, "It was all for the best", Mr Watts said.

"If you can look at things in that cynical light I think I agree with him, for the reactionaries made the liberals a unified force which will achieve a large measure of success in the next three years."

Referring to the Convention generally. Mr Watts said that the "stage-managing of the Convention" was "disgusting".

He said at the Republican Convention 300 youths dressed in white took up one hour and a half every mornine raising the American flag and reciting an oath of allegiance and half an hour in the evening taking is down again.

"The Democrats used a hollow, stainless steel pole with a flag at the top, and every morning gas would set it fluttering."

"It took only about 15 minutes," he said.

Mr Watts said the victory of the liberals on the first day was the challenge to racially-based delegations.

"Two delegations from each state which sent a racially-based delegation tried to enter; and they were both accepted."

Mr Watts said a terrific floor fight greeted the attempt of the alternative delegations to seat themselves.

"Why they didn't throw out the all-white delegations I'm damned if I know," said Mr Walls.

"Public announcements had already been made by these delegations that they would vole for Wallace anyway."