1968 April 18

Attorney General Ramsey Clark Criticizes Chicago Mayor Daley’s “Shoot to Kill” Order


Riots occurred in many cities following the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968. In Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley issued a “shoot to kill” order to the police. Attorney General Ramsey Clark criticized the order on this day — and was criticized by law-and-order conservatives for doing so. The legality of a “shoot to kill” order to the police in 1968 is unclear. Nor is it clear that a mayor has or had legal authority to issue such an order..

In his later years, Ramsey Clark became a radical critic of American foreign policy and human rights violations. As a lawyer he defended a number of critics of U.S. policies.

Read the Kerner Commission report on the riots of the 1960s (but not the April 1968 riots): National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders [The Kerner Commission] Report (1968)

Read Ramsey Clark’s official Justice Department biography (with links to his speeches): http://www.justice.gov/ag/aghistpage.php?id=65

Learn more about Ramsey Clark and his father Tom Clark, also an Attorney General: Alexander WohlFather, Son, and Constitution: How Justice Tom Clark and Attorney General Ramsey Clark Shaped American Democracy (2013)

Learn more about Clark’s later career: Ramsey Clark, The Fire This Time: War Crimes in the Gulf (1992)

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