In Photos: Returning Home From the Vietnam War

Michael Cooper was most famous for shooting candid moments with the Rolling Stones and the cover of the Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But in the summer of 1968 he found himself in Chicago to witness ‘America’s crack-up’ – as a police riot filled television screens and an inter-generational conflict opened up over the Vietnam war.

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As the Democratic national convention gathered to elect a presidential candidate, thousands of police officers were reinforced by the US military to face anti-Vietnam war protesters who descended on Chicago

Esquire magazine assembled a team of world-famous writers backed by a rock photographer to cover the moment when extraordinary politics needed something out of the ordinary: left, to right, French novelist Jean Genet; beat poet Allen Ginsberg; new journalism satirist Terry Southern; and Beat Generation author William S Burroughs

Demonstrators were met by an intimidating military presence and were soon beset by teargas and police clubs during four days of violence

‘At long last America is moving, because the hippies have shaken their shoulders,’ Jean Genet wrote

‘The style was defined by its unmistakable origin in a previous tradition: it was police-state, concentration-camp style, a mode always available to the mood of tyranny,’ Elizabeth Hardwick wrote in the New York Review of Books

‘The Democratic convention is being held right next to the stockyards, and I keep asking myself whether the air is being befouled by the decomposition of Eisenhower or by the decomposition of all America,’ Jean Genet, pictured left, with Allen Ginsberg

‘The Democratic convention is about to begin in a police state, there doesn’t appear to be any other way to describe it,’ news anchorman Walter Cronkite said

Photograph: Photograph by Michael Cooper, fr

Inside the convention hall, police were accused of Gestapo tactics on the streets as anti-war delegates inside lost out and vice-president Hubert Humphrey won the nomination. Here, Allen Ginsberg and William S Burroughs look on inside the 1968 Democratic national convention

‘I think we raised very serious questions about why, for the first time since the civil war in 1864, a convention of the government in office has had to be surrounded by barbed wire and military force,’ Tom Hayden, anti-war activist organiser in post-Chicago interview

Photograph: Krause, Johansen/Photograph by Michael Cooper, fr

 

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