“Potentially, this law is the foundation for a police state in America.”. The image of a black man in shackles, rendered by courtroom artists because cameras weren’t allowed in the courtroom, was circulated by media around the world. We put the government on trial.”. The organizers were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot and what followed was one of the most notorious trials in … “It’s an honor just to be nominated.”) though they were thought to have been targeted as a warning to other academics who might engage in anti-war activities. In The Trial of the Chicago 7, Sorkin intentionally opts for broad strokes to revisit the story of the trial and the surrounding events. He also declared a mistrial in Seale’s case and removed him from the trial, turning the Chicago Eight into the Chicago Seven. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/true-story-trial-chicago-7-180976063 Even Kunstler received a four-year sentence, in part for calling Hoffman’s courtroom a “medieval torture chamber.”, “There was a lot of electricity in the air,” recalls Charles Henry, professor emeritus of African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, who attended the trial while in college. Judge Hoffman (no relation to Abbie) was so angry that he continuously cited contempt. He pored over the original transcripts, read numerous books on the trial and the politics of the ’60s and spent time with Hayden (who died in 2016) as part of his writing process. Hoffman liked to provoke the judge (Frank Langella) by calling him “Julie” and blowing kisses to the jury. “It was very intense, yet no one ever forgot that we were there for one reason only: our opposition to the war in Vietnam. In Sorkin’s script, Hayden and Hoffman start out antagonistic and eventually become comrades. You will get the essence of these real-life people and the kernel of who they are as human beings, not the historical facts.”. We didn’t think there was any chance that McCarthy would be nominated. As it turns out, the events from this past summer share many parallels to 1968. Charges against Seale were also dropped. To its credit, the movie includes, if only suggests, some of these undercurrents. Fifty years ago, the trial raised questions about the First Amendment and exposed a culture clash in America. Rather than being happy with his acquittal, Froines says, “I was very upset by that because I wanted to be with my friends, of course. The drama and histrionics in the courtroom were reflected in daily headlines. [71] The 2010 documentary Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune features interviews with a variety of Ochs' associates, including Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, and Abbie Hoffman. California Do Not Sell My Info He resides in Connecticut. Abbie Hoffman: After spending years underground, Hoffman resurfaced in 1980, lectured at colleges and worked as a comedian and community organizer, He died in 1989 at 52 from a self-inflicted overdose of barbituates due to manic depression. “We were facing ten years in jail. Organizers were planning a non-violent demonstration. Bobby Seale: At 83, Seale resides in Liberty, Texas. The others were Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party; David Dellinger, a longtime anti-war activist; Tom Hayden, cofounder of Students for a Democratic Society; Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, founders of the Youth International Party (whose members were called “yippies”); and Lee Weiner, who had volunteered as a marshal for the DNC demonstrations to help with crowd control. (The incident inspired the Graham Nash song “Chicago” released a year and a half later. Fifteen years ago, Aaron Sorkin began laying the groundwork for a film based on one of the most compelling legal showdowns of the late 1960s. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Now that "The Trial of the Chicago 7" finally has been released, the writer and director told a National Press Club Headliners Virtual Newsmaker audience, it is unsettling to note parallels between what was happening in 1968 … It was inspiring to play someone so courageous.”. Director Aaron Sorkin is hopping back on the political drama train with Netflix's The Trial of the Chicago 7. Froines and Weiner were acquitted of all charges. The author of 17 books, he was also director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Los Angeles County. “His whole face was basically covered with a pressure band-aid, but he could still be heard through it trying to talk to the jury,” recalls Rennie Davis, a co-defendant in what became known as the Chicago 8 trial (later Chicago 7 when Seale was legally severed from the group and was tried separately. [72] “One day in Grant Park somebody took down a flag and the police used that as an excuse to go through the crowd beating people with nightsticks,” recalls John Froines, who helped organize the DNC anti-war demonstrations with Rennie Davis of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. “At the time, we were very cynical about the Democrats. But when thousands, many of them college students, arrived in Chicago, they were met by the forces of Democratic Mayor Richard Daley and his law-and-order machine—a tear-gas spraying, baton-wielding army of 12,000 Chicago police officers, 5,600 members of the Illinois National Guard and 5,000 U.S. Army soldiers. Courtroom drawing of Bobby Seale bound and gagged during the trial, by Franklin McMahon. The 1968 Chicago riots, in the United States, were sparked in part by the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. ), This unforgettable scene is recreated in Netflix’ upcoming courtroom drama The Trial of the Chicago 7, which starts streaming on October 16—52 years after the real proceedings unfolded in downtown Chicago. The letter was signed by 19 people, including Noam Chomsky, Susan Sontag, Benjamin Spock, Judy Collins and Norman Mailer (Collins and Mailer would also testify at the trial). Kunstler’s defense strategy was one of disruption, and it worked. Froines argues Hoffman and Rubin’s robe incident “was basically a minor disruption,” and that “the main event in terms of disruption was Bobby Seale being chained and gagged.”. But the wheels of justice turned, and in 1972, all charges against the defendants were dropped. Everyone (including the lawyers) already had prison sentences for contempt of court; and in addition to this, Judge Hoffman sentenced the five convicted men to five years in prison and gave each a $5,000 fine. In the 2007 Brett Morgen film Chicago 10, archival footage, including Chicago in August 1968, is mixed with animated scenes based on the trial transcript. “We’re seeing the demonization of protest right now, especially in the midst of this political campaign,” says Sorkin. Advertising Notice He had spent only four hours in Chicago that weekend, having travelled there to fill in as a speaker. Among other reasons, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit cited Judge Hoffman’s “antagonistic” courtroom demeanor. The seven defendants and their attorneys also received prison sentences for the more than 170 contempt citations levelled at them by Judge Hoffman—which ranged from two-and-a-half months (for Weiner) to four years and 18 days (for Kuntsler). To Garry’s shock, the judge denied the request and assigned Seale a new lawyer. Football fans and blood balloons: how Aaron Sorkin recreated the 1968 Chicago riots The Trial of the Chicago 7 protest scenes were … “SDS saw them as clowns with a following that had to be accommodated, but they weren’t part of strategic planning for what should happen,” says Gitlin, who also wrote The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage. In one instance, they showed up to court wearing judicial robes to protest Judge Julius Hoffman’s decision to revoke Dellinger’s bail. This has to be appealed.’”. At the time, a lot of prominent writers and performers were involved with the anti-war movement, and the witness list reflected this. The scene resembled a war zone, and it was broadcast into American homes via the nightly news. He died in 1994 at 56 after he was hit by a car near his Brentwood, California, home. image of a black man in shackles, rendered by courtroom artists, Amateur Treasure Hunter Finds Trove of 1,000-Year-Old Viking Jewelry, Archaeologists Discover 12th-Century Bathhouse Hidden in Spanish Tapas Bar, The Pitfalls and Promise of America's Founding Myths, The Once-Classified Tale of Juanita Moody: The Women Who Helped Avert a Nuclear War. Hayden married three times, but his most high-profile union was to actress and fellow activist Jane Fonda for 17 years. At one point, Judge Hoffman even prevented former attorney general Ramsey Clark from testifying in front of the jury in favor of the defense, arguing that Clark had nothing useful to say. 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