The Chicago Seven
1968 was one of the most turbulent years in America history. The Vietnam War became the longest war in U. S. history. American casualties were higher than 30,000. Anti-war protests grew larger and louder on college campuses. At Columbia, students took control of the office of the President and held three persons hostage to protest the school’s connection to the defense Department. Following the April assassination of Martin Luther King in Memphis riots happened in 125 cities leaving 46 dead. After Senator Eugene McCarthy challenged President Linden Johnson over his support of the war, Johnson withdrew from the presidential race. Senator Robert Kennedy entered the race after Johnson left, only to be shot and killed right after he won the California primary. Feminists picketed the Miss America pageant, and black students demanded Black Studies programs. These were just some of the events leading to the Chicago Seven trial.
The Year was 1968; the place Chicago, Illinois; the cause protesting to highlight their opposition to the Viet Nam War at The Democratic National Convention infront of the media. Many groups conspired to Rally in the Streets Of those groups included National Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam (MOBE), Youth International Party (YIP or YIPPIES), The Black Panthers and Students for a democratic society (SDS). On the other hand, Chicago officials, led by Mayor Richard Daley, saw the Democratic National Convention as a grand opportunity to promote their city to the world. They did all they could to not have anti-war demonstrators spoil their plans. Before the convention, talks between the City and protest groups denied the request of the Yippies to allow demonstrators to sleep in city parks. City Administrator Stahl said that an 11 P.M. curfew would be enforced. City police were ordered to post signs in parks announcing the curfew. As the Convention got nearer, Daley put the city’s 12,000 police officers on twelve-hour shifts. In addition, 7.500 Army troops and 6,000 national guardsmen, requested by Daley to aid in keeping order, arrived in Chicago.
The Seven Included: Jerry Rubin the radical co-founder of Youth International Party, Abbie Hoffman the leader of Youth International Party, David Dellinger a evangelical Christian Socialist, John Froines and Lee Weiner (the two forgotten members of the Chicago Seven because these two were acquitted by the jury), Thomas Hayden co-founder of Students for a Democratic Society, Rennie Davis was the National director of community organizing programs for SDS, and Bobby Seale co founder of the Black Panthers. All but Froines and Weiner were charged with inciting a riot Froines and Weiner were charged with conspiracy and making incendiary devices (stink bombs).
Sunday, August 25 young people who gathered in the park and handed out flowers, smoked pot, made out, and listened to poetry. About 10:30, a police officer with a megaphone walked through the park saying, “The park is closing. If you stay in the park, you’ll be arrested.” Some young people, most of them locals rather than out-of-town protesters, threw objects at his police car. At 11 P. M., police charged into the people still in the park, teargassing them and hitting them with billy clubs. The clearing of the park continued for hours. Some kids ran around smashing car windows and vandalizing buildings.
Police cracked more heads and fired more tear-gas grenades again the next night. They attacked about 3,000 people in Lincoln Park shortly after the 11 P. M. curfew. Testifying later about that night, Robert Pierson, an undercover officer working as Hoffman’s bodyguard, said that the Yippie leader announced, “We’re going to hold the park.” Shortly after midnight, Tom Hayden became the first of the alleged conspirators to be arrested. An officer spotted Hayden letting the air out of the tires of a police car. A half hour later, Rennie Davis ,the second to be arrested, stood at the barricades in Lincoln Park with a megaphone shouting at people to “fight the pigs.” Both were released the next day.
August 27 was another wild day in Chicago. It began with a sunrise service of chants, prayers, and meditation in Lincoln Park, led by Allen Ginsberg. Bobby Seale arrived in Chicago and addressed a crowd of about 2,000 in Lincoln