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The Chicago Seven: A Trial of the Century

Recent events unfolding in the world have brought me to research various instances in our history with similar outbreaks. Protests and uprisings have been happening for as long as we can remember. However, it is only certain instances where they are still being spoken of today. “The Chicago Seven” is one example as it gives perspectives into situations that have happened in the past and are usually left out of today’s media. 

The 1960s marked the beginning of the Vietnam War where riots and uprisings in the United States were occurring all throughout the nation. By the year 1969, the infamous trial of the Chicago Seven had begun. The initial trial was set for eight citizens in the city of Chicago who were charged with inciting an uprising over state lines: Abbie Hoffman, Bobby Seale, David Dellinger, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, Lee Weiner and John Froines

In Chicago, 1968, the Democratic National Convention was occurring, and protestors were marching in objection to the Vietnam War happening at the same time. After a period of time following the protest, policemen and national guardsmen had arrived and had begun to tear gas and injure civilians. During this time the protest had been altered and was described as a riot. In the documentation of this so-called “riot,” protestors were heard to be exclaiming, “We Shall Overcome.”

Seven months following the Democratic National Convention, eight citizens of Chicago were charged as instigators of organized crime to create riots over state lines. The trial was made to address the idea of the eight individuals symbolizing the widening of the generational cultural divide, infamously known as the Chicago Eight. 

However, shortly after the beginning of the trial, the Chicago Eight was changed to the Chicago Seven. This was due to Bobby Seale’s case being severed from the other defendants one month into the trial. Bobby Seale was recognized as a co-founder of the Black Panther Party and was commonly referred to as Black Panther. It was believed that when Seale was present in court, an official of the trial Judge Julius Hoffman, had instructed for Seale to be gagged and bounded throughout the hearing. 

At the end of the trial, the seven defendants were found to have been guilty and received conspiracy charges acquitted to them by the jury. However, only five of the defendants were charged with convictions of crossing state lines to entice a riot.

Combining my interests in activism as well as in law, I hope I’ve provided you with information on cases that are rarely spoken of today.

Kinza Yaqoob

Ryerson '23

Kinza is a third-year student at Ryerson University with a concentration in Biology and Human Anatomy. She loves to read and learn about things she's passionate about.  When she isn't studying she can be found reading or watching Gilmore Girls while sipping her third iced coffee of the day.
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