From the Vault of Art Shay: Witness To The Persecution
(Legendary Chicago-based photographer Art Shay has taken photos of kings, queens, celebrities and the common man in a 60-year career. In this week's look at his archives, Art reflects on the last time tensions between police and protesters exploded, as Chicago prepares for the NATO summit.)
With the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago, there is a flurry of revived interest in my pictures of the 1968 Democratic Convention. President Obama moved the G-8 summit to Camp David, halving the new photo opportunities. But still the calls from agencies and magazines come in
history repeating itself?
I don't have to pull down the well-researched committee indictment against the rioting police. I'm in the report, but all I have to do is look down at the three center fingers on my right hand, clubbed into insensitive, bent digits by the baton of a cop whose number I was copying down in the battle zone park across from the Hilton. He was wielding his baton mercilessly at a young, elusive college woman, aiming to draw blood from her suburban head protected only by an already red-dyed high school babushka. I was merely a target of opportunity for daring to point my Leica at this uniformed asshole as he swung, grunted and danced with the unbalanced effort of malfeasance.
The first Hippie I met was none other than Abbie Hoffman at the then-Y on Wabash near the Hilton. I pointed my camera at his wounded face, still puffy from six hours in police custody. "They grabbed me because of this." He pointed to his forehead on which the large word "FUCK" had been self-mercurochromed.
Interrogated while being alternately beaten by three bullyaks, Abbie said he at first denied planning to poison the lake. "Then these guys got so preposterous I confessed to wanting merely to piss in the lake and poison everyone in Chicago." That's when they started punctuating their blows with grunts of "fag," "Hippie Commie," and worse.
He wouldn't let me shoot his picture for Time Magazine, "because no matter what you say, they'll take the police point of view... Republicans."
He did let me buy him the eggplant special for supper, a pre-Avatar sick shade of blue-green.
If you can't wait until this time every Wednesday to get your Art Shay fix, please check out the photographer's blog, which is updated regularly. Art Shay's book, Chicago’s Nelson Algren, is also available at Amazon.