Chicago Seven

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Chicago Seven,

group of political activists, originally eight in number, who led protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968 and were charged with criminal conspiracy and incitement to riot. The seven defendants were Abbie Hoffman (1936–89), Jerry Rubin (1938–94), David Dellinger (1915–2004), Tom Hayden (1939–2016), Rennie Davis (1941–), John Froines (1939–), and Lee Weiner (1939–). The eighth defendant, Bobby Seale (1936–) of the Black PanthersBlack Panthers,
U.S. African-American militant party, founded (1966) in Oakland, Calif., by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. Originally aimed at armed self-defense against the local police, the party grew to espouse violent revolution as the only means of achieving black
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, was bound and gagged during the proceedings to stifle his strident protests against the judge's refusal to have his preferred counsel present or to let him mount his own defense. Seale was sentenced to four years in prison for contempt of court (reversed in 1972) and had his trial severed from that of the other seven in Nov., 1969. During the trial, which lasted from Sept. 24, 1969, to Feb. 18, 1970, Rubin and Hoffman, members of the Youth International party (Yippies), especially antagonized Judge Julius Hoffman with frequent disruptions, but all the defendants made anti–Vietnam War, political, countercultural, procedural and other protests repeatedly during the trial. Judge Hoffman was seen by many to be antagonistic toward and biased against the defendants from the beginning. The seven were acquitted of conspiracy charges, but all except Froines and Weiner were convicted of crossing state lines to incite a riot and sentenced to five years in prison and fined. All seven defendants and their attorneys (one of whom was William KunstlerKunstler, William Moses,
1919–95, American lawyer, b. New York City, grad. Yale (1941), Columbia law school (1948). Flamboyant and often brilliant, Kunstler defended the unpopular and unfailingly supported left-wing causes and clients.
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) were given prison terms for contempt of court. In 1972 the contempt convictions were overturned, but several defendants were convicted without sentence in a 1973 retrial. All criminal convictions in the case were reversed in 1972, and the defendants were not retried.