The Trial of The Chicago Eight

The trial of the eight people charged with conspiring to incite riots that unfolded during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois was comprised of an abstract cast of characters including yippie (Youth International Party) movement leaders Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, Black Panther Party leader Bobby Seale, radical pacifist David Dellinger, anti-war activists Rennie Davis, Tom Hayden,  John Froines and Lee Weiner and a tight conservative U.S. District Judge Julius Hoffman.

The trial began on September24th, 1969 and would extend to a yawning four and a half months much like the long, grueling war in Vietnam, which was the primary motive of the riots to begin with. The Chicago Eight became the Chicago Seven when Bobby Seale, after being too disruptive in court, was secured to a chair, gagged, and then finally displaced to await a later trial that never came to fruition. There were countless, amusing courtroom antics made possible by the defendants that transpired throughout the aimless course of the trial which varied from courtroom etiquette such as blowing kisses at the jury, to suggesting that the judge, of whom defendant Abbie Hoffman referred to as “Julie”, to go out and try LSD. 

Outside the courthouse was not as amusing however, as rallies and riots often turned to violence in the wake of the trial, making it difficult for local business owners, police, and residents alike. The end result of the trial was the jury determining that Hoffman, Rubin, Dellinger and Davis had incited riots but not conspired to do so (charges of which would later be dismissed in a higher court) and John Foines and Lee Weiner acquitted of all charges.   

About Hudson Saffell (36 Articles)
Freelance Writer / Editor

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