Chicago Seven

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CHICAGO SEVEN (also called the Chicago Eight or Chicago Ten), radical activists arrested for conspiring to incite riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, 21–29 August 1968. Ignoring Mayor Richard Daley's warnings to stay away, thousands of antiwar demonstrators descended on Chicago to oppose the Democratic administration's Vietnam policy. On 28 August, skirmishes between protesters and police culminated in a bloody melee on the streets outside the convention center. Eight protesters were charged with conspiracy: Abbie Hoffman, Rennie Davis, John Froines, Tom Hayden, Lee Weiner, David Dellinger, Jerry Rubin, and Bobby Seale. The trial (1969–1970) quickly degenerated into a stage for high drama and political posturing. Prosecutors stressed the defendants' ties with "subversive" groups like Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Youth International Party (YIP), and the Black Panthers. Defense attorney William M. Kunstler countered by calling a series of celebrity witnesses. Judge Julius J. Hoffman's obvious hostility to the defendants provoked low comedy, poetry reading, Hare Krishna chanting, and other forms of defiant behavior from the defendants' table. Bobby Seale, defending himself without counsel, spent three days in court bound and gagged for his frequent outbursts. His case was later declared a mistrial. The jury found five of the other seven defendants guilty of crossing state lines to riot, but these convictions were reversed on appeal. The defendants and their attorneys also faced four-to five-year prison sentences for contempt of court. In 1972, citing Judge Hoffman's procedural errors and bias, the Court of Appeals (Seventh Circuit) overturned most of the contempt findings.


Danelski, David. "The Chicago Conspiracy Trial." In Political Trials. Edited by Theodore L. Becker. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs-Merrill, 1971.

Dellinger, David T. The Conspiracy Trial. Edited by Judy Clavir and John Spitzer. Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs-Merrill, 1970.

Sloman, Larry. Steal This Dream: Abbie Hoffman and the Counter cultural Revolution in America. New York: Doubleday, 1998.

SamuelKrislov/a. r.

See alsoDemocratic Party ; Peace Movements ; Vietnam War ; Youth Movements .

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Chicago Seven

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