Netflix 's The Trial of the Chicago 7 is based on the real life legal battle between the state of Illinois and a group of anti-war protestors.
Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, and Lee Weiner were charged under the anti-riot provisions of The Civil Rights Act of 1968.
They staged anti-war demonstrations outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, in September 1968.
The demonstrations saw thousands of police and protesters clash for five days and nights.
The violence dominated the news, taking the top spot from Presidential speeches and political broadcasts. Hundreds of arrests were made.
After several months of investigation, on March 20, 1969, eight protesters were charged with various federal crimes and eight police officers were charged with civil rights violations.
The trial got underway later that year, and ran from April 9, 1969, to February 20, 1970.
The Chicago Seven were accused of conspiring (with sixteen co-conspirators who faced no charges) to cross state lines to incite a riot, to teach the making of fire-starting weapons, and to commit acts to impede law enforcement officers in their lawful duties.
Originally there were eight people on trial, but Bobby Seale caused such a furore in court that he was removed with the idea he would be tried on his own in the future.
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Seale – who later went on to co-found the Black Panther Party – asked for a specific lawyer to represent him, but it would have meant postponing the trial as the legal eagle needed gallbladder surgery.
Furious his request was denied by Judge Julius Hoffman, he shouted in court: "This racist administration government with its Superman notions and comic book politics.
"We're hip to the fact that Superman saved no black people. You got that?…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 in-and I demand my constitutional rights!"
Shockingly, the judge was so angry that he ordered that he be gagged and bound to a chair, where he sat, making muffled screaming noises for several days until he was removed from court and charged with contempt.
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The furious Judge slapped him with a four year prison term.
The trial began in September 1969, and drew a lot of press attention – and supporters for the accused.
Due to the left-wing leanings of the defendants, it attracted a lot of similarly-minded supporters, and at one point the National Guard were called to calm the crowds outside of the courthouse.
It also brought the support of many high-profile figures from the counter-culture movement, who shared their support in songs, poetry and passionate speeches and demonstrations in Chicago's Lincoln Park.
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All seven were found by a jury to be not guilty of conspiracy, but five of the defendants were found guilty of inciting a riot, and Hoffman sentenced each of the five to the maximum penalty: five years in prison and a fine of $5,000, plus court costs.
In addition, Hoffman sentenced all eight defendants and both of their lawyers (William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass) to lengthy jail terms for contempt of court.
At the end of the trial, all seven were found not guilty of conspiracy, but five were found guilty of inciting a riot.
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Judge Hoffman sentenced each of them to the maximum penalty of five years in prison, and a $5,000 fine. They also had to pay court costs.
Not only Searle got time in prison for contempt. The judge also gave the Chicago Seven and their lawyers William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass lengthy jail terms for contempt of court.
Two years later in May 1972, the contempt convictions were overturned by the United States Court of Appeal.
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