Photojournalist remembers the 1968 Democratic National Convention

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Chicago Police beat a protester in front of the Conrad Hilton during the contentious 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Duane Hall~Sun-Times files

As the 2012 Democratic National Convention ticks off the final moments before swinging into action, The New York Times takes a moment to look back and remind us that these conventions were not always scripted and, certainly, not always tame.

I didn’t know they were arresting media. So I just went in the middle of the street thinking that I had a press card and I had my cameras and they’d let me take pictures. I didn’t want to get arrested. I just happened to see these demonstrators being dragged — they were dragging them by their collars and their feet. What was I supposed to do? I’m just about to snap the picture of a hippie being arrested and all of a sudden seven cops jump on me. And they drag me into the wagon.

That’s how New York Times photographer Barton Silverman recounts his experience at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago in this Lens post for the New York Times.

Silverman was among a number of journalists arrested as the Chicago Police worked to “preserve disorder,” as Mayor Richard J. Daley famously misspoke. The Lens post features a number of images Silverman made through the violent days leading up to Hubert Humphrey’s inauguration.

Silverman even managed to keep his cameras as he was loaded into the wagon, taking photos all the way. When he eventually had to hand his cameras off to another photojournalist, they got shots of him being hauled off. Silverman was even sued by a Chicago Police sergeant after taking photos of the cop wading into a group of media and protesters with a flailing club – an image that played not only in the Times, but also on the cover of Life Magazine as the chaos of Chicago’s convention became a national story.

The policeman is there to preserve this order

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