Monday, July 27, 2020

July 27th, 1970

1970:  July 27th – A riot breaks out in Grant Park here in Chicago when Sly and the Family Stone fail to show up for what was supposed to be a free concert.  (Ironically, the concert was staged in part to make up for a previous no-show by the band earlier in the year.)

When the dust settled, 162 people were injured … 

Incredibly, 126 were police officers, 30 of whom had to be hospitalized!  

Three people were reportedly shot, cars were overturned and set fire … and the crowd soon spilled over into The Loop shopping area, where more damage was done in the way of broken store windows and looting.  

In all, 160 people were arrested before it was all over, some 5 ½ hours later.

Some reports say that Sly and the Family Stone were actually there … their equipment was already set up on the stage … but Chicago Police wouldn’t allow them to take the stage for fear for their own safety and afraid that rather than calm the crowd, they might incite even more dangerous activity.  

The Chicago Tribune blamed it on too much drinking and marijuana use in the blazing hot Chicago sun … but whatever may have helped to fuel it, it was completely out of control.  (All of this coming just two years after the riots that erupted during the Chicago Democratic Convention.)

Several of the band's future shows were cancelled rather than risk similar copy-cat break-outs in other cities.  (Sly Stone insists he was there, even though it was being announced that he wasn’t, and offered to take the stage several times in an effort to calm down the out of control crowd.  He wasn’t allowed to do so in order to ensure his own safety.)

A year later, Sly and the Family Stone released their next album … aptly titled “There’s A Riot Going On.”