Watch | 19. Oct 2020

"The Chicago Seven Trial" - A Movie And A Book About Eight Men Who Changed The Way Of Political Protest Forever

There were eight men, the Richard Nixon adiministration put on trial in 1969, all having been involved in the student´s riots in Chicago that historic Summer of 1968, but for different reasons.

When one of them, "Black Panther" co-founder Bobby Seale, attacked the judge (infamous Julius Hoffman) to act "illegal" and "racist", after he neglected postponing the trial until his lawyer returned from the hospital, he was dismissed from the group.

According to the "Chicago Tribune" the judge had accused Seale of disrupting the court, and on October 29, he ordered Seale to be bound, gagged, and chained to a chair.

Seale spent several days in court, bound and gagged in front of the jury, prompting defense attorney Kunstler to say: "This is no longer a court of order, Your Honour, this is a medieval torture chamber."

Hoffman ultimately severed Seale from the case and sentenced him to four years in prison for contempt of court - a term that was soon overturned by the US Court of Appeals.

The remaining seven defendants with their completely different backgrounds, were unified simply for the good reason to lead different protest groups against the Democratic Party under president Johnson: They claimed to end the war in Vietnam where Americans as well as innocent Vietnamese got killed every day.

The defendants included major figures of the antiwar and racial justice movements: Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, the madcap founders of the Yippies; Tom Hayden (late husband of "Hanoi-Jane" Fonda) and Rennie Davis, founders of Students for a Democratic Society and longtime antiwar organizers; David Dellinger, a pacifist and chair of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam;

The way they fought for their right to defend freedom and peace made history - and until today every mature American knows their story.

Or maybe not.

Most of the younger people joining the riots after the death of Geroge Floyd this summer may not remember the heroes of their ancestors, so why not watch the Netflix movie, Aaron Sorkin produced about "The Chicago Seven Trial"?

Or read the very well researched book "The Conspiracy Trial of the Chicago Seven" by John Schulz, who on assignment for The Evergreen Review, witnessed the whole trial of the Chicago Seven, from the jury selection to the aftermath of the verdict.

As for the movie, although you might get easily bored with courtrooms, wait up until the very last scene. You will find a little bit of that healing powers some wellknown actors seem to still believe in enough to play their parts: Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Frank Langella and Michael Keaton all did a wonderful job.