The 1960s Lifestyles and Social Trends: Topics in the News
The 1960s Lifestyles and Social Trends: Topics in the NewsASSASSINATION, PROTEST, AND VIOLENCE
THE WARREN COMMISSION AND ITS CRITICS
THE ASSASSINATION OF MALCOLM X
BLACK AMERICA ON SCREEN
GOVERNMENT FUNDING OF THE ARTS
TRYING THE CHICAGO SEVEN
ASSASSINATION, PROTEST, AND VIOLENCE
Of all the domestic upheaval that captured headlines during the 1960s, none was more shocking than the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (1917–1963). After the grandfatherly presence in the White House of Republican Dwight Eisenhower (1890–1969), Kennedy, a Democrat, brought youth and spirit to national politics. He was a young man, in his early forties, when he won election in 1960. His wife Jacqueline (1929–1994) was stylish and attractive. Kennedy was also the father of young children. His daughter Caroline (1957–), was three years old when he was elected. His son John Jr. (1960–1999), popularly known as John-John, was just a couple of days short of his third birthday when Kennedy was murdered while parading in a motorcade past the Texas School Book Depository in downtown Dallas. The date, November 22, 1963, instantly became a landmark in American history.
People around the world reacted with a special horror at the news of Kennedy's death. Not only was he youthful and vital, but Americans in particular had come to believe that such acts only occurred elsewhere, in less-civilized countries. Kennedy's assailant was Lee Harvey Oswald (1939–1963), a Depository employee and former U.S. Marine sharpshooter. Oswald had a murky past. He had defected to the Soviet Union, where he lived between 1959 and 1962. Then he returned to the United States, where he became involved in pro-Cuba activities.
In the hours and days following the assassination, life in the United States came to a standstill. Americans watched their television sets in dis-belief as a caisson, a horse-drawn wheeled vehicle containing the slain president's casket, rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Following the caisson was a riderless horse. In an image etched in the memories of those who witnessed it, Kennedy's little son John saluted as the caisson passed by.
Kennedy was not the only national leader to be cut down by assassination during the decade. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968), the civil rights leader who advocated nonviolence as a means of protesting racism, was felled by a bullet in April 1968. Two months later, Robert Kennedy (1925–1968) was also murdered. Kennedy was the slain president's younger brother and a leading contender that year for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
Assassinations of public figures covered a wide political spectrum. In 1965, controversial Black Muslim leader Malcolm X (1925–1965) was
shot to death. Two years later, George Lincoln Rockwell (1918–1967), head of the American Nazi Party, was murdered.
Throughout the decade, the then-burgeoning Civil Rights movement was met with a violent response by white supremacists. Civil rights activist Medgar Evers (1925–1963) was killed in June 1963. Evers had, in 1954, become the first Mississippi field secretary of the National Organization for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The accused killer, Byron De La Beckwith (1920–2001), stood trial twice during the 1960s, but all-white juries failed to reach verdicts. In 1994, De La Beckwith, a decorated World War II veteran and retired fertilizer salesman, was retried and convicted. He was sentenced to life in prison.
There were many other victims of racist violence. Bostonian James Reeb (1927–1965), a Unitarian minister, died following a beating while in Selma, Alabama, where he went to assist in a voting rights drive. Three civil rights workers affiliated with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)—Michael Schwerner (1939–1964), James Chaney (1943–1964), and Andrew Goodman (1943–1964)—were murdered in Mississippi. Viola Liuzzo (1925–1965), a Detroit housewife helping with voter registration, was killed in Alabama.
Violence occurred against groups of people, as well as against individuals. In the early 1960s, the Freedom Riders were a target. The Freedom Riders were a group of blacks and whites of both sexes and all ages who came to the South to test Supreme Court desegregation rulings and similar federal legislation. They rode from town to town on a bus, often with whites at the back and blacks at the front, and they sat together at "white" and "colored"-only lunch counters. Often, they faced angry mobs and their buses were firebombed. Four young girls, ages eleven to fourteen, were killed when their Birmingham, Alabama, church was bombed in September 1963. Police dogs and high-pressure fire hoses were used against schoolchildren attempting to enroll in previously segregated schools.
Much violence of the era focused on the desegregation of educational institutions. In 1962, a court order directed that James Meredith (1933–), a black man, be allowed to enroll at the University of Mississippi. A mob attacked the federal marshals who had been sent to enforce the ruling. President Kennedy ordered 5,000 army and National Guard troops onto the "Ole Miss" campus to halt the rioting. Casualties included 166 injured marshals, 28 by gunshot wounds; 40 injured soldiers and guardsman; and two dead civilians, one a French journalist.
Promoters of voter rights were also targets. Only 3 percent of eligible blacks in Selma, Alabama, were registered to vote in the mid-1960s. On the second day of a 1965 voter registration campaign, sixty-seven blacks were arrested. Hundreds more followed. The Selma police employed violent methods to turn back protesters, who at one point were chased with electric cattle prods. An Alabama state trooper shot a demonstrator, who subsequently died. In one famous confrontation, demonstrators attempting to march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery were attacked by club and tear gas-wielding state troopers. When the marchers retreated, they were attacked by the Selma police.
In the northern and western United States, riots flared in the black neighborhoods of major American cities, mostly during what came to be known as "long, hot summers." In 1964, disturbances broke out in New York's Harlem community, and in Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood. The following year, in the Watts area of Los Angeles, rioting resulted in thirty deaths. The California National Guard was called in to restore order. In 1966, more than forty similar outbreaks occurred across the nation. More than 160 followed in 1967. Nationwide disturbances also broke out in the aftermath of the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination in 1968.
Violent confrontation escalated during the summer of 1968 on the streets of Chicago, the site of the Democratic National Convention. In what an official government report dubbed a "police riot," Chicago policemen beat thousands of protestors. Many anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, which were by then quite frequent on college campuses, ended in bloody showdowns between police and protesters. Over a thousand were injured and seven hundred were arrested in October 1967, when troops used rifle butts to prevent demonstrators from entering the Pentagon. Meanwhile, such fringe groups as the Weathermen and the Black Panther Party made headlines with violent activity on behalf of their causes. The Weathermen were determined to "bring the (Vietnam) war home" by instigating violent action. The Black Panthers, who took the position that they were at war with America's white power structure, engaged in several bloody shoot-outs with police.
Gays also were becoming increasingly politicized and inclined to engage in civil disobedience on behalf of their cause. In June 1969,
patrons of Stonewall, a gay men's bar in New York's Greenwich Village, refused to silently comply with police during a routine raid. Instead, they fought back. A riot ensued, and the bar was set on fire. This has been called the start of the gay rights movement.
In total, all these incidents were evidence of a growing trend in American society to use violence as a means of expressing one's point of view.
THE WARREN COMMISSION AND ITS CRITICS
Immediately in its aftermath, the American people demanded to know the facts behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Was Lee Harvey Oswald the lone gunman? Were other conspirators with him that day in Dallas? Had he concocted his deadly scheme alone, or did any one of a number of Kennedy's political foes back him?
Oswald would not live to answer these or other questions. Two days after the assassination, he was shot dead while being transferred from the Dallas city jail to the county lockup. His assailant was Jack Ruby (1911–1967), a Dallas nightclub owner.
To determine the facts surrounding the assassination, Lyndon Johnson (1908–1973), Kennedy's successor, appointed a bipartisan investigative committee. It was headed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren (1891–1974) and became known as the Warren Commission. In September 1964, the commission issued an 888-page report in which it concluded that Oswald had acted alone.
While most people accept the findings of the Warren Commission, decades later there are still those who fault the commission's findings. Critics cite inconsistencies in witnesses' testimony and suggest that the images on a 26-second-long, 8mm film of the Kennedy motorcade, shot by Dallas dress manufacturer Abraham Zapruder (1905–1970), do not correspond to the taped sound of the gunshots.
THE ASSASSINATION OF MALCOLM X
Malcolm X (1925–1965) was born Malcolm Little, and his early life was marred by tragedy. His father, a Baptist preacher who embraced the teachings of Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey (1887–1940), was murdered in 1931 by the Black Legion, a Ku Klux Klan-like racist group. Despite the mutilated condition of his body, the death was officially ruled a suicide.
By the time he reached manhood, Little had drifted into a criminal lifestyle. In 1946, he was sentenced to prison for armed robbery. While in jail, he became self-educated, in part through reading and copying the entire dictionary. He joined the Nation of Islam (Black Muslims), a religious sect that emphasizes self-discipline and preaches the superiority of the black race. He changed his name to Malcolm X and, after his release from prison, evolved into one of the sect's most forceful speakers. Unlike civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. (1920–1968), who advocated nonviolence, Malcolm declared that blacks should employ "any means necessary," including violence, to win their liberty.
Even within the Black Muslim movement, Malcolm was a controversial figure. He clashed with Elijah Muhammad (1897–1975), the movement's leader; Malcolm questioned Elijah's sincerity, while Elijah reportedly had become jealous of Malcolm's rising popularity. After being suspended from the Muslims, Malcolm traveled to Mecca and embraced orthodox Islam. When he returned to the United States in 1964, he put forth a more conciliatory tone with regard to race relations. He no longer was a black separatist and even admitted that not all whites were racists.
While speaking in a ballroom in New York's Harlem district in 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated by three Black Muslim followers.
BLACK AMERICA ON SCREEN
Through the late 1940s, many Hollywood studio films depicted African Americans with simple, degrading stereotypes: Comical menials who were servile and stupid and who butchered the English language. Black actors were character actors and played only supporting roles.
By mid-century, the portrayal of black characters began to change. A cycle of films indicted stereotyping and discrimination and pleaded for racial tolerance. Four early films with this tone were released in 1949: Intruder in the Dust; Pinky; Lost Boundaries; and Home of the Brave. All featured three-dimensional black characters who were victims of a prejudicial society, each suffering solely because of their skin color.
With the mushrooming Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s came the first black Hollywood star, Sidney Poitier (1924–), who debuted in No Way Out (1950), playing a young doctor. Poitier was good-looking and charming. He became the first black star to win a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance as a wandering ex-GI who helps a band of nuns build a chapel in Lilies of the Field (1963). Among his most consequential films are The Defiant Ones (1958), about black and white escaped convicts who are chained to each other and whose mutual dislike turns to respect; In the Heat of the Night (1967), in which a pair of adversaries, a black Philadelphia cop and a white small-town Southern sheriff, work together on a murder investigation; and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), spotlighting an interracial romance between a black intellectual and a young Caucasian woman.
During the 1960s, several independent films produced outside the Hollywood studios offered uncommonly vivid slices of African American life. The characters in One Potato Two Potato (1964), a frank study of an interracial marriage, were more realistic than those in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Nothing But a Man (1964), the story of a black railroad worker dealing with a combination of racial prejudice and self-denial, is extraordinary if only because it portrays a black character as he exists within his own culture.
On television, African American entertainers had long appeared as guest stars, most notably dancing and singing on variety shows. Nat King Cole (1919–1965), a popular jazz musician-singer, had his own short-lived variety series, The Nat King Cole Show (1956–57). However, the first black character on a major primetime dramatic TV series appeared in the 1960s. The show was I Spy (1965–68), and it chronicled the exploits of a two secret agents, one white and the other black. This character, Alexander Scott, was played by Bill Cosby (1937–), who was then primarily known as a stand-up comic. In future decades, Cosby would become one of the most successful and powerful television personalities in the United States.
During the 1960s, Americans by the millions traded in their oversized, gas-guzzling cars for more compact foreign and American-made models. These cars were more practical because they were easier to park and less expensive to drive. They also were sportier and more high-performance than the traditional mid-century family vehicle.
Many enthusiasts rate the Ford Mustang as the quintessential 1960s automobile. The original Mustang hit the marketplace in 1964. Its creators wanted it to be low-priced (at approximately $2,500), sporty enough to appeal to the youth market, and available with a diverse assortment of options.
The original Mustang was neither the fastest nor the most powerful car available. Yet it became an instant hit. In 1966, more than 541,000 units were sold, accounting for 6 percent of all U.S. car sales.
Life in American suburbia during the 1950s is often described as orderly and convenient, and at worst, sterile. The media image was of happy, contented families; in reality, the pursuit of the suburban dream life often produced stressed-out husbands and fathers, bored and tired wives and mothers, and children who rejected their parent's lifestyles and values. As American children grew to maturity in the 1960s, many created their own counterculture: a world all their own, the foundation of which consisted of great quantities of "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll."
Those in the counterculture claimed to be nonmaterialistic. To show this, many preferred to wear faded, ripped blue jeans rather than crisp new ones. Peace, love, and marijuana were preferred over war, aggression, and martinis. Love was "free," or not restricted to monogamous relationships. Drugs users marveled at how drugs, especially hallucinogens, could "expand" their minds. Those young people who fully denounced materialism, dropped out of the mainstream, and embraced counterculture values were known as hippies. To their elders, and to those among their peers who continued to embrace more traditional values, hippies seemed irresponsible and foolish.
Counterculture communities emerged across the United States. The two most famous were on the West Coast, in the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco, and on the East Coast, in New York's East Village. Between 1966 and 1967, young people flocked by the thousands to such communities. They readily abandoned the physical comfort of their parents' suburban homes for the adventure and uncertainty of day-to-day living in communities like "the Haight" or "the Village." By mid-1967, tens of thousands of teens and "twenty-somethings" had descended on San Francisco in search of the free love, antiestablishment, drug-soaked utopia they thought they would find there. That summer was dubbed the first "Summer of Love." Although that title has also been attributed to the one that followed, by the summer of 1968, the hippie movement had over-lapped more fully with the angry protests of the antiwar and civil rights movements. The idealism of those who believed The Beatles when they sang "All You Need is Love" began to disintegrate into disillusionment.
Even before the "Summer of Love" had ended, reports of drug-related murders and other less violent crimes in counterculture communities were harsh evidence of the naiveté of those who felt that "good vibrations" could remake the world. As evidenced by reports of tainted drugs and subsequent "bad trips," the use of hallucinogens like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) did not always result in pleasant journeys. Furthermore, there was no economic foundation on which the counterculture could endure. How long would rock bands perform for free in parks when they could earn millions by selling tickets in concert halls?
While fragments of the counterculture survived into the 1970s, parents and conservatives never quite understood or approved of it. In the late 1960s, many young people adopted as their motto a phrase that reverberated through the era: "Never trust anyone over thirty." Indeed, it often seemed as if older and younger adults resided on different planets.
The 1960s was a decade in which Americans embraced a range of fads. Children played with yo-yos and Superballs (tiny rubber balls that would bounce for a full minute when dropped). Teens danced the Twist, first popularized in 1960 by singer Chubby Checker (1941–). The dance became so trendy that First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (1929–1994) even threw a Twist party at the White House! Other dance crazes followed, including the Watusi, Frug, Pony, Swim, Mashed Potato, and Jerk.
Before the antiwar movement engulfed campuses, college students engaged in piano-wrecking, kissathons, and telephone talkathons. The Beatles, those mop-topped lads from Liverpool, not only defined the spirit of 1960s youth but provided the basis for a whole industry of Beatles boots, wigs, wallets, games, and movies. Surfing became a fad, spurred on by the "California sounds" of rock groups such as The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean. Teens flocked to theaters to see such silly but popular "beach" movies as Beach Party, Beach Blanket Bingo, Bikini Beach, Muscle Beach Party, Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, which all starred Frankie Avalon (1940–) and Annette Funicello (1942–).
On the 1960s fashion front, women increasingly rejected dresses and skirts in favor of pants and pantsuits. The "masculinity" of women wearing pants was tempered by gloves, jewelry, and dressy handbags and patent leather shoes. From about 1963 on, hemlines crept higher and higher. Many younger women favored miniskirts (scandalously short skirts), and microminis (which just barely, but not always, hid undergarments).
The overall look in women's fashions, especially during the early years of the decade, emphasized a combination of simplicity and ladylike elegance. Solid colors were preferred over patterns. The invention of panty-hose freed women from the burdens of girdles, garter belts, and other traditional undergarments. Early in the decade, women wore their hair in full, oversized "beehives" or more moderate bouffant styles. Around the mid-1960s, younger women rejected the bouffant and beehive for longer, more "natural" styles. In order to achieve these so-called natural styles, many girls set their hair using orange-juice-can rollers, and some even ironed their hair to achieve an ultra-straight look!
During the decade, men became more fashion-conscious. Where the conservative gray flannel suit had once been the rule for businessmen, by the mid-1960s a wide range of styles became popular, with European designers marketing suits with much slimmer lines. Ties and belts became narrower. More adventurous men wore suits in brighter colors. Instead of keeping their hair short and neatly trimmed, males of all generations generally wore their hair longer. Some even began visiting unisex hairstyling salons, shops that catered to both men and women, rather than barber shops.
During the second half of the 1960s, millions of young men let their hair grow to lengths that rivaled that of their sisters or girlfriends. At the time, extra-long, unkempt hair on males was not so much a fashion style as a political statement, particularly against the war in Vietnam. Meanwhile, blacks of both sexes wore full, natural Afro cuts.
In the early 1960s, teen girls wore sweater/blouse/skirt combinations. Among the popular styles were woolen A-line or pleated skirts; cardigan sweaters; and solid-colored or subdued flowery-print cotton blouses with button-down or Bermuda collars. Outfits were completed by Bass Weejuns slip-on loafers and flesh-colored stockings or knee-high socks. Some younger women preferred one-piece dresses, occasionally worn with a belt at the waist; however, completely waist-less dresses, known as shifts, were also worn, both in and out of school. Girls also increasingly wore pants in general and blue jeans in particular. Some outfits, such as matching jeans and denim jackets, were marketed for both sexes ("unisex").
As in previous decades, boys and girls were required to dress formally while in school throughout most of the 1960s; dress codes didn't change significantly until the 1970s. Acceptable school clothes for girls included dresses or skirts and blouses—pants of any kind were taboo—while boys donned button-down shirts, twill and khaki-type trousers, and, in some schools, even sports jackets and ties. As the decade moved forward and young people attempted to find ways to separate themselves from their elders, they embraced what might be described as "anti-fashion." Members of both sexes rejected established fashion of any kind in favor of nontraditional looks. They wore their own unorthodox uniforms: pea coats, faded bell-bottom jeans, and T-shirts that were tie-dyed in bright spirals and circles. Second-hand clothing stores and army-navy surplus stores became popular venues for adding to one's wardrobe. Sandals became the favored type of footwear, but going barefoot was preferred. Many younger women wore little if any makeup. Going braless also became a standard practice.
In the 1960s, the "Mod" (or "Chelsea") look revolutionized clothing styles for the young and helped create a new phenomenon: a youth fashion market.
Previously, major designers targeted adults. Now, however, teenagers had more money in their pockets than in previous generations, and girls in particular wanted to spend these dollars on clothes that were tailored specifically for them. During the 1950s, Mary Quant (1934–), a British milliner's shop employee, opened Bazaar, a clothing shop on King's Row in the Chelsea section of London, England. Quant believed that clothes for youth should reflect youthfulness and should be spirited and unconventional rather than stuffy and boring. Her idea was to create clothing that could be worn and then disposed of when new styles and trends emerged. So she filled Bazaar with clothes that she personally designed and that had a fresh new feel: simple, short dresses in black or with wild geometric patterns and strong colors; knee-length jumpers; and balloon-style dresses. Quant kept adding designs and styles, and her store became phenomenally successful. Not only did Bazaar draw the young and trendy, but it influenced clothing styles for young people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Eventually, Quant supplied clothing to 150 shops in Great Britain and 320 in the United States.
Bazaar also was hailed as the first fashion boutique: A relaxed, nonpressured environment in which shoppers could browse the racks while listening to popular music playing in the background. Almost single-handedly, Quant made London the 1960s fashion capital of the world.
During the early 1960s, folk music, (music made and handed down among the common people) enjoyed a burst of popularity. It was the
music of choice for thinking individuals, many of them college students, who were bothered by what they felt was the inanity of rock and roll and distressed by the specter of nuclear holocaust, racial disharmony, and other societal ills.
Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Tom Paxton, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs, and Peter, Paul and Mary were a few of the era's top folk performers. Two compositions by Dylan (1941–) mirrored issues of primary concern to folk aficionados: "Blowin' in the Wind," an appeal for racial harmony that was a hit for Peter, Paul, and Mary; and "The Times They Are A-Changin'," which foresaw a future in which the emerging generation would add a much-needed dose of humanism to the social order.
In 1965, Dylan abandoned the acoustic guitar, the instrument of choice for folk singers. First he recorded "Subterranean Homesick Blues" with electric instruments and then appeared with an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival. The folk purists booed Dylan off the Newport stage, but he had transformed himself into a rock star, and his acoustic-to-electric conversion signaled the beginning of the end of the folk music revival.
Twiggy and Carnaby Street
Twiggy (1949–), who in the late 1960s was the world's most famous fashion model, became the embodiment of "Mod." Unlike females who were admired for their fuller figures and long, luxurious hair, Twiggy was slender and boyish, with a close-cropped Vidal Sassoon haircut. She became a trendsetter in the fashion world.
Another fashion style also emerged in London that became popular in the United States: the Carnaby Street look. Long, straight-cut dresses patterned with combinations of stripes and dots were a Carnaby Street trademark.
GOVERNMENT FUNDING OF THE ARTS
During the 1960s, the U.S. government became increasingly artsoriented. In 1964, through the U.S. Information Agency, it first supported American entries at the Venice Biennale art exhibition. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson (1908–1973) signed into the law the Federal Aid to the Arts Bill, which created the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). These and similar organizations directly funneled financial support to individual artists. In 1966, modern-dance choreographers Merce Cunningham, Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor, and Alwin Nikolais each received $5,000, while choreographer Martha Graham secured $40,000 to produce two new works and $141,000 to mount a national tour of her company.
Public funding of the arts provoked arguments from all sides of the political spectrum. Some government officials and taxpayers felt that, if they were paying for art, they had the right to control its content. As a result, government-subsidized art that was perceived by some to be controversial because it challenged conventional views became the center of a political firestorm, with conservatives damning the artists and arts-funders and liberals defending the rights of artists to enjoy freedom of expression.
On the other hand, arts funding allowed for an increased public appreciation of the relevance of the arts to everyday life. This awareness came in many forms: the presence of paintings and sculpture in public places; a rise in the number of museums on college campuses; an increase in the number of regional theaters; and the establishment of public radio and television stations, which offered audiences noncommercial cultural and educational programming.
The Black Arts Movement
The 1960s saw a generation of African American playwrights, novelists, essayists, poets, and critics arriving at the forefront of American arts and letters. Their voices, always clear and loud and often radical, paralleled the escalating Civil Rights movement.
Among them were Amiri Baraka (formerly known as LeRoi Jones), Larry Neal, Addison Gayle Jr., Hoyt Fuller, and Nikki Giovanni. In their writings, they noted that blacks and whites lived in separate cultures and thus should have separate arts.
TRYING THE CHICAGO SEVEN
In the aftermath of a bloody August 1968 confrontation between police and antiwar demonstrators outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, several protesters were indicted and charged with inciting a riot. The defendants were David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, John Froines, Lee Weiner, and Bobby Seale.
Their pretrial strategy was to treat the case as political theater. They were determined to disrupt the proceedings, so that no conviction could be obtained that would stand on appeal. Among their rationales: Even though many believed that the police were the instigators of the violence, none of Chicago's finest had been indicted; and the trial would allow the defendants the opportunity to publicize their views. Further heightening the proceeding's confrontational nature was its judge: seventy-four-yearold Julius Hoffman (c. 1896–1983), who was not known for his patience. As the trial began, Judge Hoffman attempted to jail four lawyers for contempt because they had withdrawn from the case. Then he refused to allow defense lawyers to question prospective jurors about their attitudes toward youth culture and the Vietnam War. The trial itself was no less stormy; at one point, Judge Hoffman ordered Seale, national chairman of the Black Panther Party, bound and gagged.
In the end, Froines and Weiner were acquitted of all charges, while the others were convicted under the Anti-Riot Act of 1968, which prohibited traveling across state lines with the intention of inciting a riot. While the jury deliberated their fates, Judge Hoffman sentenced them and two of their attorneys to jail terms for contempt of court. A U.S. Court of Appeals eventually overturned all convictions and sentences, ruling that the judge failed to allow defense attorneys to properly question jurors and neglected to let key defense witnesses testify.
Several of those cited for contempt were retried on those charges and were found guilty. However, the presiding judge decided not to sentence them to any jail time.