July 17, 1966 – Chicago And The Long, Hot Summer – Riots, Murders, And Sweltering Heat
July 17, 1966 – 1966 would go down in history as a Summer of considerable discontent and violence. Chicago was just one of many cities across American coming to grips with Civil Rights and urban violence. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was in Chicago to lead African-Americans in a non-violent campaign for equality in jobs, education and opportunity. But the voices of non-violence were drowned out by mob violence as the streets of Chicago’s West Side echoed with gunfire as riots broke out days earlier when Police tried to shut off fire hydrants being used to bring relief from the scorching heat. The violence quickly spread and Chicago was engulfed in rioting as buildings were set on fire and looting was widespread amid reports of gunfire, Molotov Cocktails. Violence continued for the rest of the week, making for an impossible situation that held a city hostage for a week. In all, 2 persons were killed and some 57 were wounded before elements of the Illinois National Guard were brought in to patrol streets and restore calm. Chicago Police Commissioner Orlando Wilson explained why he asked for National Guard troops; “I felt the situation had grown beyond the capacity of Civil Authority to deal with it, and under the circumstances we needed the assistance of The National Guard to bring the situation under control”.
But Chicago was also the scene of other violence. In what was later to be called “The Crime Of The Century”, nine Student nurses were in their apartment on the city’s South Side. Only one escaped an orgy of death by hiding under a bed as a lone man killed the other 8 nurses, one by one. A shocking crime in a shocking week in the life of Chicago.
And that’s a tiny portion of what went on in the world, as reported by ABC Radio’s Voices In The Headlines, for the week ending July 17, 1966.