“Chicago Eight” defendant Bobby Seale gagged during his trial

“Chicago Eight” defendant Bobby Seale gagged during his trial

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Following several outbursts, the judge orders “Chicago Eight” defendant Bobby Seale gagged and chained to his chair during his trial.

Seale and his seven fellow defendants (David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, Thomas Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Lee Weiner, and John Froines) had been charged with conspiracy to cross state lines with intent to cause a riot during the violent anti-war demonstrations in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Judge Julius Hoffman gave the order to gag Seale after he repeatedly shouted accusations and insults at the judge and prosecution and disrupted the court proceedings. In November, Seale’s conduct forced the judge to try him separately. Seale was sentenced to 48 months in prison for 16 acts of contempt. Seale was then charged with killing a Black Panther Party informant in New Haven, Connecticut; the contempt charges were eventually dismissed and the murder trial ended with a hung jury.

READ MORE: 7 Reasons Why the Chicago 8 Trial Mattered

Chicago Eight

The trial of the Chicago Eight exemplified the state of turmoil that existed in the United States in 1968. Because the Chicago conspiracy trial opened with eight defendants, this group of radical leaders is sometimes referred to as the Chicago Eight. The trial of one defendant, BOBBY SEALE, was severed from that of the other seven hence the name Chicago Seven is a name also used to refer to this trial.

The assassinations of Senator ROBERT F. KENNEDY and Dr. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., occurred within months of each other. The escalation of the VIETNAM WAR was unpopular with many U.S. citizens and a number of young men of draft age burned their draft registration cards or fled to Canada rather than risk their lives for a cause in which they did not believe. Protest demonstrations were prevalent. The turbulence in the United States culminated in events at the Democratic Presidential Convention in Chicago, Illinois, which led to a sensational courtroom trial.

Chicago was controlled politically by Mayor Richard J. Daley and his Democratic followers. When Chicago was chosen as the site for the Democratic Convention, groups of protestors decided to seize the opportunity to converge on that city to stage demonstrations and publicly espouse their views against U.S. participation in the Vietnam War. The protestors arrived from all over the nation, establishing a camp at Lincoln Park.

Mayor Daley was opposed to any incident that might cause a disturbance of the convention proceedings and taint the reputation of the city of Chicago. The demonstrators were denied a permit to assemble in Lincoln Park and were told to disband. When they refused the Chicago police tried to forcibly eject them from the park. When these efforts failed the police used tear gas and billy clubs. A riot resulted, and as news of the Chicago violence reached the nation, other groups went to Chicago to join the protestors. When the number of demonstrators reached 20,000, the NATIONAL GUARD was enlisted to quell the violence. Eight radical leaders emerged as the organizers of the demonstration movement: Tom Hayden and Rennie Davis, who had established the group known as Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, founders of the Youth International Party, or "Yippies" Bobby Seale, leader of the BLACK PANTHER PARTY David Dellinger, staunch opponent of the Vietnam War and renowned pacifist and John Froines and Lee Weiner, two teachers.

In 1968 Congress enacted legislation prohibiting conspiracies to cross state boundaries with the intent of inciting a riot. The eight men were brought to trial at the Federal Court Building in Chicago in 1969 and were accused of breaking this new law.

The trial evoked a number of controversial issues. The purpose of the protest was to air the views of the participants against the Vietnam War. The blame for the ensuing riots, however, could not be clearly placed on the demonstrators or on the actions of the police to disband them. While the Constitution provides for the basic freedoms of speech, protest, and assemblage, the terms of the new law&mdashparticularly concerning the actual act of conspiring to riot&mdashwere not clearly defined in relation to these rights.

Federal district court judge Julius J. Hoffman was selected to try the case. The U.S. attorney for the prosecution for Illinois was Thomas Foran. A number of defense lawyers were retained, but the two most prominent were WILLIAM KUNSTLER and Leonard Weinglass. Armed protection was provided at the court building to discourage disturbances.

Judge Hoffman proved to be a difficult man. Four defense lawyers notified the judge by telegram that they had decided to withdraw from the case Hoffman charged them with CONTEMPT of court for not informing him personally of their intentions. The charges were eventually dropped but not before protests from lawyers all over the nation were filed. Bobby Seale's lawyer became ill, and Seale asked for either a delay of his trial until his lawyer could participate or permission to defend himself. Hoffman denied both requests.

The prosecution began by stating three charges against the Chicago Eight: (1) they had persuaded people to travel to Chicago for the purpose of joining protest demonstrations

Six members of the Chicago Eight at a 1970 press conference: (seated, l-r) Rennie Davis, Jerry Rubin, and Abbie Hoffman (standing, l-r) Lee Weiner, Bob Lamb, and Thomas Hayden.

(2) they had influenced their followers to defy law enforcement officials and (3) they had encouraged a riot. The defense attorneys countered that the actions of the demonstrators were in accordance with the basic freedoms granted by the Constitution.

Police informants were called as witnesses for the prosecution. Bobby Seale asked to be allowed to cross-examine the witnesses, and again the argument flared between Seale and Hoffman as to Seale's rights to representation by counsel. The other defendants voiced agitation during the early days of the trial, but exchanges between Bobby Seale and Judge Hoffman were particularly vehement, and Hoffman had Seale handcuffed to a chair and gagged. Hoffman claimed that the court had the right to employ this tactic, but it was the first time it had been utilized during a trial of any consequence in the United States. Seale still found ways to interrupt the proceedings, and Hoffman declared a mistrial in Seale's case and imposed on Seale sentence of four years for contempt of court.

The seven remaining defendants and their lawyers became enraged the trial became a shouting match between all involved, with insults being flung at the judge by the defendants. Hoffman began ruling in favor of motions presented by the prosecution and against those for the defense.

The trial came to a close on February 14, 1970. As the jury deliberated, Hoffman charged all the defendants and attorneys Kunstler and Weinglass with contempt of court and passed sentences ranging from 2 months 8 days, to 29 months 13 days. Kunstler, however, received the longest sentence of 4 years 13 days. Judge Hoffman also refused to permit bail.

The jury finally reached a verdict. The seven defendants were cleared of conspiracy charges, but five of them were found guilty of crossing state boundaries to incite a riot and were given prison sentences of five years and fined $5,000. Defendants Froines and Weiner were acquitted of all charges.

The Chicago Eight appealed to higher courts, which resulted in granting of bail, a reversal of all contempt charges&mdashincluding those of the two lawyers&mdashand a new trial for the convicted five. The proceedings of the new trial were private and lacked the sensationalism of the earlier hearings, and although the defendants were again found guilty, their sentences were suspended.


Bobby Seale was born in Liberty, Texas to George Seale, a carpenter, and Thelma Seale (née Traylor), a homemaker. [5] The Seale family lived in poverty during most of his early life. After moving around Texas, first to Dallas, then to San Antonio, and Port Arthur, Seale's family relocated to Oakland, California during the Great Migration when he was eight years old. [6] Seale attended Berkeley High School, then dropped out and joined the United States Air Force in 1955. [7] Three years later, a court martial convicted him of fighting with a commanding officer [ citation needed ] at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, [5] resulting in a bad conduct discharge. [8]

Seale subsequently worked as a sheet metal mechanic for various aerospace plants while studying for his high school diploma at night. "I worked in every major aircraft plant and aircraft corporation, even those with government contracts. I was a top-flight sheet-metal mechanic". [9] After earning his high school diploma, Seale attended Merritt Community College where he studied engineering and politics until 1962. [10]

While at college, Bobby Seale joined the Afro-American Association (AAA), a group on the campus devoted to advocating black separatism. "I wanted to be an engineer when I went to college, but I got shifted right away since I became interested in American Black History and trying to solve some of the problems." [11] Through the AAA group, Seale met Huey P. Newton. In June 1966, Seale began working at the North Oakland Neighborhood Anti-Poverty Center in their summer youth program. Seale's objective was to teach the youth in the program Black American History and teach them a degree of responsibility towards the people living in their communities. While working in the program, Seale met Bobby Hutton, who later became the first recruited member of the Black Panther Party. [12]

He married Artie Seale, and had a son, Malik Nkrumah Stagolee Seale. [13]

Black Panthers Edit

Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton were heavily inspired by the teachings of activist Malcolm X, who was assassinated in 1965. The two joined together in October 1966 to create the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, which adopted the late activist's slogan "freedom by any means necessary" as their own. Prior to starting the Black Panther Party, Seale and Newton created a group known as the Soul Students Advisory Council. The group was organized so to allow it to function through "ultra-democracy," defined as individualism manifesting itself as an aversion to discipline. "The goal was to develop a college campus group that would help develop leadership to go back to the black community and serve the black community in a revolutionary fashion". [14] After the inception of Soul Students Advisory Council, Seale and Newton then went on to found the group they are most readily identified with, the Black Panther Party the aim of which was to organize the black community and express their desires and needs in order to resist the racism and classism perpetuated by the system. Seale described the Panthers as "an organization that represents black people and many white radicals relate to this and understand that the Black Panther Party is a righteous revolutionary front against this racist decadent, capitalistic system." [15]

Writing Edit

Seale and Newton together wrote the doctrines "What We Want Now!" which Seale said were intended to be "the practical, specific things we need and that should exist" and "What We Believe," which outlines the philosophical principles of the Black Panther Party in order to educate the people and disseminate information about the specifics of the party's platform. [16] These writings were part of the party's Ten-Point Program, also known as "The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense Ten-Point Platform and Program," a set of guidelines to the Black Panther Party's ideals and ways of operation. Seale and Newton decided to name Newton Minister of Defense and Seale became the Chairman of the party. [17] During his time with the Panthers, he underwent surveillance by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as part of its illegal COINTELPRO program. [18]

The Trial of the Chicago 8 Edit

Bobby Seale was one of the original "Chicago Eight" defendants charged with conspiracy and inciting a riot in the wake of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Bobby Seale, while in prison, stated, "To be a Revolutionary is to be an Enemy of the state. To be arrested for this struggle is to be a Political Prisoner." [20] The evidence against Seale was slim, as he was not a participant in the planning for the convention's protest activity and had gone to Chicago as a last-minute replacement for activist Eldridge Cleaver. [21] [22] He had also been in Chicago for only two days of the convention. [22] During the trial, Judge Julius Hoffman had him bound and gagged. [23] Bobby would stand up in court and yell "I Object" every day of the trial when they mentioned his name for the reason of his lawyer not being present during the trial. Bobby claimed he was denied his constitutional right to defend himself, then he was found in contempt. Bobby was then handcuffed, leg cuffed to a chair and tape placed around his mouth to stop him from talking during court. [24]

Though he was never convicted in the case on November 5, 1969, Judge Hoffman sentenced him to four years in prison for 16 counts of contempt, each count for three months of his imprisonment because of his outbursts during the trial, and eventually ordered Seale severed from the case, leading to the proceedings against the remaining defendants being renamed the "Chicago Seven". [ citation needed ]

New Haven Black Panther trials Edit

While serving his four-year sentence, Seale was put on trial again in 1970 in the New Haven Black Panther trials. Several officers of the Panther organization had murdered a fellow Panther, Alex Rackley, who had confessed under torture to being a police informant. [25] The leader of the murder plan, George W. Sams Jr., turned state's evidence and testified that Seale, who had visited New Haven only hours before the murder, had ordered him to kill Rackley. The trials were accompanied by a large demonstration in New Haven on May Day, 1970, which coincided with the beginning of the American college student strike of 1970. The jury was unable to reach a verdict in Seale's trial, and the charges were eventually dropped. The government suspended his convictions and Seale was released from prison in 1972. [5]

While Seale was in prison, his wife, Artie, became pregnant, allegedly by fellow Panther Fred Bennett. Bennett's mutilated remains were found in a suspected Panther hideout in April 1971. [26] Seale was implicated in the murder, with police suspecting he had ordered it in retaliation for the affair, but no charges were pressed. [27]

Mayoral run Edit

Seale ran for Mayor of Oakland, California in 1973. [28] He received the second-most votes in a field of nine candidates [5] but ultimately lost in a run-off with incumbent Mayor John Reading. [28] In 1974, Seale and Huey Newton argued over a proposed movie about the Panthers that Newton wanted Bert Schneider to produce. According to several accounts, the argument escalated to a fight in which Newton, backed by his armed bodyguards, allegedly beat Seale with a bullwhip so badly that Seale required extensive medical treatment for his injuries. Afterwards, he went into hiding for nearly a year, and ended his affiliation with the Party in 1974. [29] [30] Seale denied any such physical altercation took place, dismissing rumors that he and Newton were ever less than friends. [31]

The Ten Point Platform Edit

Seale worked with Huey Newton to create the Ten Point platform. The platform was a political and social demand for the survival of the Black population in the United States. The two men formulated the Ten Point Platform in the late 1960s, and these ideologies grew into the Black Panther Party. The document encapsulated the economic exploitation of the black body, and addressed the mistreatment of the black race. This document was attractive to those suffering under the oppressive nature of white power. The document takes the position that a combination of racism and capitalism resulted in fascism in the United States. The Ten Point Platform lays out the need for full employment of black people, the need for their shelter, and decent education decent education meaning the real history of the United States, the history including the murder of Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans. The platform calls for the release of political prisoners.

The points are as follows: [32]

  1. We Want Freedom. We Want Power To Determine The Destiny Of Our Black Community.
  2. We Want Full Employment For Our People.
  3. We Want An End To The Robbery By The Capitalists Of Our Black Community.
  4. We Want Decent Housing Fit For The Shelter Of Human Beings.
  5. We Want Education For Our People That Exposes The True Nature Of This Decadent American Society. We Want Education That Teaches Us Our True History And Our Role In The Present-Day Society.
  6. We Want All Black Men To Be Exempt From Military Service.
  7. We Want An Immediate End To Police Brutality And Murder Of Black People.
  8. We Want Freedom For All Black Men Held In Federal, State, County And City Prisons And Jails.
  9. We Want All Black People When Brought To Trial To Be Tried In Court By A Jury Of Their Peer Group Or People From Their Black Communities, As Defined By The Constitution Of The United States.
  10. We Want Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice And Peace.

In 1988, Bobby Seale wrote an autobiography titled A Lonely Rage. Also, in 1987, he wrote a cookbook called Barbeque'n with Bobby Seale: Hickory & Mesquite Recipes, the proceeds going to various non-profit social organizations. [33] Seale also advertised Ben & Jerry's ice cream. [34]

In 1998, Seale appeared on the television documentary series Cold War, discussing the events of the 1960s. Bobby Seale was the central protagonist alongside Kathleen Cleaver, Jamal Joseph and Nile Rodgers in the 1999 theatrical documentary Public Enemy by Jens Meurer, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival. In 2002, Seale began dedicating his time to Reach!, a group focused on youth education programs. He has also taught black studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. Seale appears in Roberto Bolaño's last novel, 2666, renamed as Barry Seaman. Also in 2002, Seale moved back to Oakland, working with young political advocates to influence social change. [1] In 2006, he appeared in the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon to discuss his friendship with John Lennon. Seale has also visited over 500 colleges to share his personal experiences as a Black Panther and to give advice to students interested in community organizing and social justice. [ citation needed ]

Since 2013, Seale has been seeking to produce a screenplay he wrote based on his autobiography, Seize the Time: The Eighth Defendant. [35] [36]

Seale co-authored Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers, a 2016 book with photographer Stephen Shames. [37]

The Chicago 8: Where Are They Now?

Rennie Davis: Now 80, Davis founded the Foundation for a New Humanity, a Colorado-based project to develop a comprehensive plan for a new way of living. Married, he lives in Boerthoud, Colorado and also does personal growth coaching.

David Dellinger: Dellinger died in 2004 at 88. The oldest of the Chicago defendants by 20 years, he was a leading antiwar organizer in the 1960s. Dellinger wrote From Yale to Jail: The Life Story of a Moral Dissenter.

John Froines: At 81, Froines is professor emeritus at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health with a specialty in chemistry, including exposure assessment, industrial hygiene and toxicology. He also served as director of a division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration .

Tom Hayden: Hayden died in 2016 at 76. A leader in America’s civil rights and antiwar movements, he moved into mainstream politics and served in the California State Assembly for a decade and the California State Senate for eight years. He taught at Occidental College and Harvard's Institute of Politics. The author of 17 books, he was also director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Los Angeles County. Hayden married three times, but his most high-profile union was to actress and fellow activist Jane Fonda for 17 years.

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.

Jerry Rubin: Rubin went on to work on Wall Street and hosted networking events for young professionals in Manhattan. He died in 1994 at 56 after he was hit by a car near his Brentwood, California, home.

Bobby Seale: At 83, Seale resides in Liberty, Texas. In 1973, Seale ran for mayor of Oakland, California, and came in second out of nine candidates. He soon grew tired of politics and turned to writing, producing A Lonely Rage in 1978 and a cookbook titled Barbeque'n with Bobby in 1987.

Lee Weiner: Now 81, Weiner recently wrote Conspiracy to Riot: The Life and Times of One of the Chicago 7, a memoir about the1968 Democratic National Convention. In the years after the trial, Weiner worked for the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith in New York and participated in protests for Russian Jews and more funding for AIDS research He also worked as a vice president for direct response at the AmeriCares Foundation. He resides in Connecticut.

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This is Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month, in America for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. it is an annual observance in the United States and Canada in February,

I feel this album best honors the black struggle in history as well as reflects what is happening right now, today.

Gagged & Chained
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cover design by Bill Tucker
photo of front cover by Styrous®

Gagged & Chained
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Gagged & Chained
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Gagged & Chained
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Gagged & Chained
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Bobby Seale was one of the original "Chicago Eight" defendants charged with conspiracy and inciting a riot in the wake of the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Bobby Seale, while in prison, stated, "To be a Revolutionary is to be an Enemy of the state. To be arrested for this struggle is to be a Political Prisoner."

The evidence against Seale was slim, as he was a last-minute replacement for activist Eldridge Cleaver and had been in Chicago for only two days of the convention.

Gagged & Chained
vinyl LP, side 1
detail photo by Styrous®

Gagged & Chained
vinyl LP, side 2
detail photo by Styrous®

Gagged & Chained
vinyl LP, side 3
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Gagged & Chained
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Bobby Seale ‎– Gagged And Chained (The Sentencing Of Bobby Seale For Contempt)
Label: Certron ‎– CSS2-2001
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: US
Released: 1970
Genre: Non-Music
Style: Interview

A1 Bobby Seale Speaks Live 2:33
A2 Beginning Of Trial 15:10

Side 2: Trial Of Bobby Seale
Side 3: Trial Of Bobby Seale
Side 4: Trial Of Bobby Seale

Manufactured By – Certron Corporation Music Division
Copyright (c) – Certron Corporation

Producer – Dennis F. Shanahan

"A dramatic, historical re-enactment of the Chicago Conspiracy Trial, November 5, 1969, as it relates to Bobby Seale and the sentencing of Seale for contempt by Judge Julius Hoffman".
Barcode and Other Identifiers

Matrix / Runout (Stamped Side A ): CSS-22001-A-1
Matrix / Runout (Stamped Side B): CSS-22001-B-1
Matrix / Runout (Stamped Side C): CSS-22001-C-1
Matrix / Runout (Stamped Side D): CSS-22001-D-1
Other (Cat# Disc 1): CSS2-2001-1
Other (Cat# Disc 2): CSS2-2001-2


AMY GOODMAN : And now we’re going to turn to a clip of Bobby Seale speaking in Chicago in 1968 outside the Democratic convention during the protests.

BOBBY SEALE : We go forth as human beings to remove these pigs, these hogs in the power structure, murdering and brutalizing people not only here in the confines of racist, decadent America, but murdering, brutalizing and oppressing people around the world. And when we go forth to deal with them, the devil always send out their racist, dirty, rotten pigs to occupy the people, to occupy the community, such as the way they have this park here occupied. Now, just a second. There’s a lesson that Minister of Defense Huey P. Newton teaches, that whenever the people disagree with the political decisions that have been made upon their heads, that whenever the people disagree with those political decisions, the racist power structure sends in guns and force to see that the people accept those political decisions. But we are here as revolutionaries to let them know that we refuse to accept those political decisions that maintain the oppression of our black people and other people in the world.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Bobby Seale, the founding chairman of the Black Panther Party, speaking at one of the demonstrations in the early days of the Chicago Democratic National Convention protest. And I want to welcome Bobby Seale to the program. Bobby, one of the parts of the history of the Chicago demonstrations that’s left out is that it wasn’t just young white people. Obviously, the Black Panther Party was involved. The Young Lords of Chicago were involved, as well, in the protests. Could you talk about how the various groups managed to come together outside the Democratic National Convention that year?

BOBBY SEALE : We were all about coalition politics anyway. This is one of the factors that I injected into my organization relative to Dr. Martin Luther King, Dr. Reverend Ralph Abernathy calling me, before Dr. King was killed, to help join with him and them to do the Poor People’s March for greater economic rights. Coalition politics was a main character of where we were coming from. So, the Young Lords, etc., and others, I mean, the real Rainbow Coalition started with the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords and the Young Patriots. Young Patriots were young white students out of the Appalachian Mountains in the mining companies, etc. And we were all coalesced, all the ethnic groups, etc. And that’s where we were coming from.

But when I spoke at Lincoln Park, one of the things I stated there — because I had seen on television before I arrived there that it was a police riot. And I was telling them that power of the people is the ability to define phenomena, then, in turn, make it act in a desired manner. So the phenomena of the racist police coming upon you peaceful protesters, unarmed, etc., and beating on you, you’re going to have to try to struggle and move around and try to see if you can grab that billy club out of one of them’s hand and beat them back, therefore making them act in a desired manner. My point was, that, itself, when I made that statement, they had pulled me back to the Chicago trial a year later, and the DA tried to say, “You meant kill the police, right, Bobby?” I says, “No, I meant defending ourselves, you know.”

But my point is, the whole mess of even charging us, me and others, with interstate transportation, you know, was based on the Rap Brown law — you know what I mean? — that had been pigeonholed. But after Dr. King was killed, so many riots happened, the Congress pulled it out and made it a law you can’t use interstate transportation or use interstate highways to cross state lines with the intent to incite a riot. I spoke at Lincoln Park. Next day I spoke at Grant Park across the street from the Conrad Hilton Hotel. Half the people of the 400 or 500 people there, maybe half of those people, were all in suits, like they were delegates, you know, to the convention. Nobody rioted, you know what I mean. And then, of course, I left and went back to — went back to Oakland, California, organizing chapters and branches around the country of my organization.

AMY GOODMAN : I want to read from a December 1968 copy of Life magazine on the police violence during Chicago in the protests against the DNC . The cover of the issue reads, quote, “Walker Report Discloses the Police Rioted at the Democratic Convention.” An article in the issue quotes a police transmission that captured what police officers said on their radios: quote, “We’ve got an injured hippie.” “That’s no emergency.” “Kick the f — er.” “Knock his teeth out.” Just an example of what was going on then. Now, Bobby, you didn’t get arrested there at the convention, right? You were there for the first two days. In fact, you were a last-minute stand-in for Eldridge Cleaver, is that right? Why did you come to Chicago?

BOBBY SEALE : Yeah, well, that was the reason. Eldridge Cleaver’s parole officer would not let him leave the state of California, so Eldridge called me up at Rampartsmagazine, where I worked at the time, and asked me to take his place. So I called all my people, etc., to get some airline tickets, what have you, etc., and we flew to Chicago, because I went there with an entourage, you know what I mean, etc. In fact, we were armed. You know, those are the days we could still — we could still carry guns on the plane, you know what I mean? And a lot of the times we moved around very armed, because we had over three-and-a-half thousand threatening letters over the years, that I had given to our lawyers to make sure, because you never could tell when they were going to attack us and stuff like this here.

But I’m just saying, when I was arrested, I was arrested for New Haven, Connecticut, the other trial. I was out on bail for the Chicago trial, and they arrested me at another point. And when the trial came, I’m in jail the whole period of the trial that I was there, the seven months that I was protesting in the courtroom. And the other seven defendants are not in jail, because they are — you know, they didn’t have a capital charge like I had — you see? — in New Haven, Connecticut.


AMY GOODMAN : I just want to go back to that, because you’ve mentioned the trial — I mean, this was an enormous deal — especially for young people who aren’t aware of what took place in 1970. Again, you were arrested months after the protests and charged with conspiring to riot, Bobby. And you were part of the Chicago 8. Explain what —

BOBBY SEALE : No, I was never —

AMY GOODMAN : And then you were severed from the case.

BOBBY SEALE : I was severed from the case, but I was in jail for another charge. I was never in jail for Chicago, the charges of Chicago. I never had to go to jail. I posted bail when they first charged me. I was never arrested in jail.

I returned from Scandinavia. I returned from Scandinavia. I was 12 days in Scandinavia — Norway, Sweden, Finland, what have you, etc. — speaking and lecturing. And while I was there, the indictment against me came down. I was very shocked when I hit Finland, because people kept telling me — and there was probably underground CIA agents in all these places I spoke — says, “Are you going to go to Helsinki, Finland?” I says, “Yeah.” “Well, you know, when you get to Helsinki, Finland, you’re only 125 miles from Leningrad. Boom.” I says, “Lady, I ain’t interested in no Leningrad,” because I wasn’t. I didn’t like the USSR at all, because even when I got there, they interviewed me at some press conference at some parliament place, and I did not care for the state-control, command-economy socialism concepts related to it, and I like democratic socialism concepts rather than that. But I’m just saying —

AMY GOODMAN : But when you were actually in the trial, when you were in the courtroom, explain what happened.


AMY GOODMAN : Explain what Judge Hoffman did in having you bound to a chair and gagged.

BOBBY SEALE : Well, he charged — bound after seven — six weeks of protesting in the courtroom. What I was protesting was, is that I had put a motion in before the trial started, in jail. In other words, I got the right to call my lawyer, Charles Garry, who was in the hospital. The judge was trying to push Kunstler on me. But when I got my lawyers to dictate to me over the phone, I wrote out the motion, with carbon copies. And then, when they brought me into court, before the trial actually started, I asked to step to the lectern to read a motion — and I did — for the right to defend myself, etc., and so on, etc. And the judge denied it. And then we get in an argument. “The Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America say I have legal right to my choice of my lawyer, and you cannot push Kunstler on me.” So that became part of my strategy against the very trial, while at the same time, remember, I’m charged with conspiracy to commit murder, which is a trumped-up FBI operation, in Connecticut, that I have to later face after I finish the Chicago trial. That’s the reason I’m in jail. I’m not in jail because of Chicago, I’m just saying.

So I argued in the courtroom every time. Every time my name was mentioned, I would jump up and interrupt the whole thing. “I object! My lawyer’s not here. He’s mentioning my name.” “Sit down, Mr. Seale!” the judge would say. And I would say, “No,” and I would argue. And then, I remember the judge one time says — he talked to the court recorder and asked her, “Did she get that?” [She] says, “Yes.” I said, “Did you get mine’s, too, ma’am?” She says, “Yes.” I says, “Thank you very much,” and then turn right back around and told the judge, “You’re a racist, a fascist and a bigot.” You know, so, that was the argument with me. And I run that all the way through. Ultimately, those contempt charges and everything was totally thrown out. In fact, everybody who was convicted — they even convicted the lawyers of contempt, etc., of us. But when it got to the higher circuit courts, higher circuit courts threw all that crap out. Judge Julius Hoffman violated all our rights.

And then the last day of gagging, I was bound up, my head. The only thing you could see is my eyes and my nose. I was bound up with ACE bandages. You know, the ACE bandage, you put them around the knees when you’re playing basketball and stuff, to tighten up the — that’s what I was — and then, right around here, all the arteries that’s going down. And they brought me in the courtroom. My arms are strapped down to the chair. My legs are strapped to the legs of the big heavy wooden chair, the last day of gagging. And when I got in, I mean, I was losing blood pressure, circulation. And it caused a big commotion in the room. And then the judge says, “Well, take him out.” And they tried to pick me up in this heavy chair, three guards. And the big guard started beating me in the head. Jerry Rubin jumped up out of his hair. Abbie jumped up out of their chair, trying to help me. Guards slammed them back in their chair. I’m trying to turn my hand over, my right hand over, to get my — to get my fingers up to the top of the gag. And then the other guard would turn my hand down and then hit me and knock me back, you know, and stuff like that. They really brutalized me.

Then they lost balance with this chair, two guards in the back and with the big guard in the front. And then they start stumbling. And then, against the wall were two rows of artists in wood — in metal folding chairs. And the chair fell into all of those chairs, and I’m on my back. And then I get up, and I get the guard down. And then I shouted out, because this big guard had fell on me and his elbow hit me right in the testicles. I shouted out, “You hit me in my balls, MF!” You know, I sort of shouted right in the courtroom. Now, there’s a hundred people in this courtroom. One side is all the straight people. The other side is all us Yippies, hippies, our Rainbow Coalition of everything, Black Panthers, whoever, etc. And that was it. And they’re taking me out into the lockup just outside the courtroom. And I’m telling these guards, “I’m going to take all you to court. You violated the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, subjecting me to cruel and unusual punishment, beating me. I’ll take you and Judge Julius Hoffman, etc., to court.” Do you know what happened? That court recorder first had typed, “Bobby Seale saying, ‘You hit me in my testicles,’ shouted out.” Judge Julius Hoffman had that court recorder change that, and she says — put it in the form of Jerry Rubin saying, “Don’t hit me in my testicles,” you know, etc. And that’s really it.

AMY GOODMAN : Well, Bobby, we’re going to —

BOBBY SEALE : I mean, it was a certain —

AMY GOODMAN : We’re going to break, but we’re going to come back to this discussion.


AMY GOODMAN : Bobby Seale, describing what happened to him in the Chicago 8 conspiracy trial. He was severed from that trial. When he was bound and gagged on the orders of the judge in the Chicago 8 trial, he was the only African-American defendant. And it wasn’t lost on people, as he was tied to that chair. Ultimately, all the charges were dropped against everyone. When we come back, we continue with the former co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale, speaking to us from Oakland. And Bill Ayers, as well as Bernardine Dohrn, both were members of SDS , Students for a Democratic Society, and would later go underground as the Weather Underground. This is Democracy Now! Back with all in a minute.

David Dellinger

Although David Dellinger came from a wealthy family with a Yale and Oxford education, he walked away from it all to become a pacifist and non-violent social activist. Originally studying to be a Congregationalist minister, Dellinger relinquished his intended profession to focus on anti-war causes.

Refusing to register for the draft during World War II, he was thrown into prison and later protested America&aposs involvement in the Korean War and later the Bay of Pigs Invasion. He joined various freedom marches during the Civil Rights Movement and held hunger strikes while in jail.

When the Chicago 8 trial started in 1969, Dellinger was 54 years old — the oldest member of the group. Still, he exhibited a fire in his bones, often yelling at Judge Hoffman, calling him a "liar" and "fascist" when he believed the group was being treated unfairly.

After the trial, Dellinger continued his activism all the way up to his death in 2004, decrying the drug wars, promoting racial equality, and fighting against free trade zones.

The Chicago eight

That is exactly what happened when organizers planned to protest the convention on August 28, reports another History article. A large crowd of thousands gathered near the General John Logan Monument (pictured above in background) on Michigan Avenue to rally (posted on YouTube). Police had already been deployed in expectation of the number of the protesters that day. But things went awry. Cops used force and clashed with the demonstrators. What was supposed to be a nonviolent protest quickly turned violent as the world watched (via Chicago History). By the end of the ordeal, 219 people were hurt, and police arrested 589 protesters, says PBS.

Several months after the protests, it was a new year. The country was still at war and had a new leader with President Nixon. Yet, in March 1969, a Chicago grand jury indicted eight men for conspiracy of crossing state lines to incite a riot at the DNC, reported Time Magazine. These men were David Dellinger, Rennie Davis, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Lee Weiner (featured in top image), John Froines, and Bobby Seale — all organizers and activists of different anti-establishment organizations, who supported the anti-war movement. They subsequently became known as the Chicago Eight.

'The Trial of the Chicago 7': What Happened to the Real-Life Defendants?

Most continued their work as leaders in the "New Left" movement after the trial.

In the late '60s, eight leaders of the "New Left" were charged with conspiracy and inciting to riot, among other charges, stemming from their involvement in an anti-Vietnam War protest held near the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Their trial lasted nearly five months and resulted in prison sentences for five of the defendants two of the others were cleared of all charges, while the eighth, Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panthers, was dismissed from inclusion in the trial partway through. The trial and the events leading up to it are dramatized in the new Netflix film The Trial of the Chicago 7, which paints a clear picture of the unrest building among antiwar and counterculture protestors in the '60s.

Much of the film focuses on the infuriating treatment of left-leaning protestors by establishment forces like the police, the courts, and the executive branch&mdashmade all the more infuriating by how similar it still seems to America in 2020&mdasheven though all of the charges were eventually overturned on appeal.

Of course, even Aaron "Walk and Talk" Sorkin can't fit every single detail of the trial and multiple defendants' lives into a single two-hour film, so here's everything the movie left out or skimmed over, and what happened to the Chicago Seven after the trial ended.

What were the Chicago Seven charged with?

After more than six months of grand jury deliberations, the group originally nicknamed the Chicago Eight&mdashRennie Davis, David Dellinger, John Froines, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, and Lee Weiner&mdashwere handed several federal charges related to the 1968 demonstration. All except Froines and Weiner were charged with crossing state lines to incite a riot, while those two were charged with instructing others in building and using incendiary devices. Additionally, all eight, plus 16 others who were ultimately not indicted, were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot, to teach others to make incendiary devices, and to obstruct law enforcement officers from carrying out their duties.

Was Bobby Seale really bound and gagged during the trial?

Yes. In fact, while The Trial of the Chicago 7 shows Seale being severed from the trial immediately after Judge Julius Hoffman ordered him to be bound, gagged, and chained to his chair in the courtroom, in reality, he was forced to appear in court this way for several days before his involvement in the proceedings was declared a mistrial. Hoffman also ignored the fact that Seale's lawyer was unable to attend the trial due to a medical emergency and denied Seale's requests to represent himself. When Seale was finally dismissed from the trial, the judge charged him with 16 counts of contempt of court, resulting in a four-year prison sentence an appeals court soon overturned the charges.

Beyond the racist and unconstitutional treatment of Seale during the trial, his involvement in the case was a farce to begin with since, as the movie shows, he had no hand whatsoever in planning the protest.

Was the Chicago Seven case a show trial?

In the film, the defendants are adamant that the charges were brought against them not in the pursuit of justice, but as a way for the Nixon administration to symbolically fight back against the counterculture and New Left movements, in what they call a "political trial." Their accusations were true: While Lyndon B. Johnson's Attorney General Ramsey Clark discouraged the grand jury from pressing charges on the original eight defendants after an investigation found that the violence at the protest was started primarily by Chicago police, the indictments were passed once Nixon and his own Attorney General, John Mitchell, took office in early 1969.

The pro-government bias of the trial is also evident in Judge Hoffman's behavior. In addition to his racist treatment of Seale, the judge also blocked the jury from hearing key testimony from former Attorney General Ramsey Clarke and activist Ralph Abernathy, and refused to let jurors see several pieces of evidence in support of the defendants, including a document in which Hayden and Davis had expressed a goal of nonviolence for the demonstration. Hoffman also strictly limited the defense team's questioning of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

On top of all this, the judge cited the defendants and their lawyers with an unprecedented amount of contempt for court charges&mdashthough he did so only after oral arguments had ended, not mid-trial, as seen in the film. In all, Hoffman handed down 159 counts of criminal contempt, many of which were doled out for instances as innocent as laughter and sarcastic tones, and which called for additional prison sentences ranging from a few months to multiple years for the defendants.

What happened to the Chicago Seven?

After the months-long trial, the remaining seven defendants were acquitted of conspiracy, but all except Froines and Weiner were found guilty of crossing state lines with intent to incite a riot. They were each fined $5,000 and sentenced to five years in prison.

However, in May 1972, about two years after the trial's completion, all of the charges of contempt were reversed in an appeals court, which then overturned all of the incitement to riot convictions, citing the judge's "deprecatory and often antagonistic attitude toward the defense."

Following the trial, most of the defendants continued their work in left-wing organizing and activism. For example, Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, co-founders of the Youth International Party, reunited for a joint speaking tour in the '80s (after Hoffman spent a few years in hiding from the law due to drug charges) David Dellinger continued protesting right-wing politics well into his 80s, when he was arrested during a sit-in at the 1996 Democratic National Convention in Chicago Tom Hayden ran multiple successful campaigns to join the California State Assembly and Senate (and, fun fact, was married to Jane Fonda from 1973 to 1990) and Bobby Seale continued his work as head of the Black Panthers until the mid-'70s, and now travels to colleges to advise students on community organizing and social activism.

Separation, Trial, And Conviction

The evidence against these men was slim, and it was mostly based on meetings that some of the defendants had called months before the demonstrations began. But the charges against the men were a big deal. As it turned out, crossing state lines to incite a riot had just become a federal crime under provisions of the 1968 Civil Rights Act.

To make matters worse, Seale had only agreed to participate in the demonstration as a last-minute replacement for another Black Panther who couldn’t make it. He was furious at the charges he was facing.

“You have did everything you could with those jive lying witnesses up there presented by these pig agents of the government to lie and say and condone some rotten racists, fascist crap by racist cops and pigs that beat people’s heads — and I demand my constitutional rights,” Seale said in the courtroom.

Unable to silence him, Judge Julius Hoffman ordered Seale bound and gagged on Oct. 29, 1969. As Seale sat squirming and attempting to speak through the gag placed tightly around his mouth, defense attorney William Kunstler said, “This is no longer a court of order, Your Honor, this is a medieval torture chamber.”

Shortly thereafter, Judge Hoffman separated Seale’s trial from the remaining seven defendants, thus renaming them the Chicago Seven. This separation earned Seale a conviction for 16 acts of contempt. As a result, he was sentenced to 48 months in prison.

“To be a revolutionary is to be an enemy of the state,” he reportedly said from prison. “To be arrested for this struggle is to be a political prisoner.”

John Olson/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Seale with Chicago Seven peers David Dellinger (left) and Abbie Hoffman (center) at Seale’s birthday party in New York.

Just one year later, while serving his sentence for contempt, Seale was put on trial for the murder of a fellow Black Panther.

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This has parallels to the Occupy Movement, without some of the court theatrics. Long live the 60's, if you can remember them. I was too young, at the time. pollick April 26, 2011

Black Panther Bobby Seale did manage to get a separate trial, but the results were pretty much the same as the other defendants. There are several good documentaries and dramatic recreations based on actual court transcripts available, so I would recommend that anyone interested in learning more about the atmosphere of the trial watch those programs.

A different judge may have handled the courtroom atmosphere better than the ultra-conservative Julius Hoffman, but some of the defendants also failed to demonstrate a basic respect for the process of law.

Yes, it may have appeared to be a kangaroo court with a stacked deck, but it was still a court of law. If you watch those recreations based primarily on actual court transcripts, you'll get a pretty good picture of what happens when two extreme political ideologies clash in a charged courtroom. fify April 21, 2011

Apparently, the Chicago Seven didn't know each other well. In fact, some of them met for the first time in Chicago.

These movements were not exactly the same either. Their ideologies were a little bit different and so were their methods. What I'm trying to get at is, why would the judge try all seven of them as a single case? I think that was a mistake. They should have been given separate cases and tried separately. ysmina April 20, 2011

Were the actions of the Chicago Seven in 1968 against the First Amendment because they clashed with the police?

People have the right to peacefully assemble, but how do we determine that? Does it depend on who started the violence first? Since the Chicago seven were taken to court for conspiracy, I guess these counterculture groups attacked law enforcement first. Is it usual for group leaders to be held accountable for all actions of their group? ddljohn April 19, 2011

I've read about what happened during the week long convention in Chicago and I think that the situation could have probably been controlled better.

I think there was way too many protective measures taken for the convention. There was a curfew and huge numbers of policemen were patrolling the streets and parks where the protesters wanted to meet up. This was probably more than what was necessary. It might have even incited the protesters to become violent even if they didn't plan to be.

I just got the feeling that the politicians arrived at the convention with the presumption that things would get out of hand and took some decisions that actually made the situation worse.

Watch the video: Bound u0026 Gagged: Black Panther Party Chair Bobby Seale Describes His Trial After 1968 DNC Protests (July 2022).


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