The Chicago 7 on Trial

In one of the defining moments of the 1960s, demonstrators opposed to the war in Vietnam clashed violently with Chicago police during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The trial that followed, with eight leaders of the anti-war movement accused of conspiracy to incite the rioting, became a spectacle in itself. At one point, Black Panther leader Bobby Seale was bound and gagged for four days for repeatedly disrupting the trial. The judge eventually severed his case from the others and the remaining defendants became known as the "Chicago 7." The convictions reported in this Post story of Feb. 19, 1970, were eventually overturned on appeal. An excerpt:

By William Chapman
Washington Post Staff Writer

CHICAGO, Feb. 18
Five of the "Chicago 7" defendants were found guilty today of crossing state lines to incite a riot at the Democratic National Convention in 1968. One of the most emotion-packed trials of modern times ended with two defendants being acquitted completely and all seven found innocent of conspiring to organize the riots. John Froines burst into tears as his acquittal was read. Defendant Abbie Hoffman's wife shouted insults at the judge. One juror appeared on the verge of weeping. Under the split verdict, the five found guilty are subject to maximum sentences of five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. The maximums would have been doubled had they been convicted of the conspiracy charge. After deliberating for more than four days, the jury of ten women and two men entered the heavily guarded courtroom shortly after noon and handed over this verdict: David T. Dellinger, Rennie Davis, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry C. Rubin and Thomas Hayden are guilty of violating a 1968 law prohibiting the use of interstate commerce with the intent of inciting or organizing a riot. This was the first conviction under that statute. Froines and Lee Weiner were found not guilty of teaching the use of an incendiary device. All seven were acquitted of a separate count charging that they conspired to organize the rioting that erupted when Democrats met here to choose a presidential candidate in 1968. In the final moments there were again some of the emotional outbursts that had characterized the trial for more than 4 months. ... At the government's request, Judge Julius J. Hoffman had ordered the courtroom cleared of spectators and members of the defendants' families before the verdicts were read. As Abbie Hoffman's wife was led out, she screamed that the defendants and their lawyers "will be avenged." "We'll dance on your grave, Julie," she shouted at the judge. "You are the emperor of the pig empire."