1968 chicago democratic national convention

Early in the course of the trial, Black Panther Party activist Bobby Seale was denied his constitutional right to counsel of his choice and was thereafter illegally denied his right to defend himself.  Seale requested that the trial be postponed so that his attorney Charles Garry could represent him (as Garry was about to undergo gallbladder surgery). The Judge denied the postponement, and refused to allow Seale to represent himself. Seale vehemently protested the Judge’s illegal and unconstitutional actions, and argued that the Judge’s actions were not only illegal, but also racist. The Judge in turn accused Seale of disrupting the court, and on October 29, Judge Hoffman ordered Bobby Seale to be bound, gagged, and chained to a chair.  For several days Seale appeared in court bound and gagged before the jury, struggling to get free and managing to make muffled sounds. 

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.

Today in history: February 18, 1970 – Seven defendants in the Chicago Seven case (originally the Chicago Eight, or Conspiracy Seven/Eight) were found not guilty of conspiracy after an outrageous politically-charged trial that was often a circus-like atmosphere and included incidents of crude racism by the court. 

Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, and Lee Weiner were charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to the historic protests in Chicago outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Footage of the Chicago police brutally beating protesters outside the convention was broadcast live around the world, causing deep embarrassment for the establishment. 

Black Panther Party leader Bobby Seale, the eighth man charged, was treated even more outrageously than the others by the court, including being bound and gagged in the courtroom. While originally part of the conspiracy trial, the judge severed his case from the others’ during the proceedings, which is why they’re alternately referred to as seven or eight. 

Following the DNC on September 9, 1968 a Federal grand jury was empaneled to consider criminal charges. Over the course of more than six months the grand jury met 30 times and heard some 200 witnesses. The eight defendants were charged under the anti-riot provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. During the trial Judge Hoffman cited all the defendants—-plus their lawyers Kunstler and Weinglass—-for numerous contempts of court and imposed sentences ranging from 2½ months to four years. 

(image: poster supporting the Conspiracy Eight)

Via Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back!)

D’Angelo and Bobby Seale on the Past and Future of Political Protest
By Dan Hyman

In early June, before the shootings in Charleston, S.C., the R&B singer D’Angelo stood beneath the blood-red awning of the It’s All Good Bakery here, peering into the window of the building that served as the first office for the Black Panther Party. At another stop, beneath a street lamp on Seventh Avenue, he stood where the group carried out its first observation of law enforcement.

In the wake of recent killings of unarmed African-American men, D’Angelo has grown increasingly frustrated with racial injustice and has been looking at the political movements of the past for ideas for change. “There’s got to be a way, right?” he asked his tour guide, Bobby Seale.

“It has to go beyond just sitting and arguing and debating,” replied Mr. Seale, who formed the Black Panthers with Huey P. Newton in 1966. Throughout the evening, Mr. Seale stressed the importance of getting more African-Americans elected to office. “Political seats — you make the laws, you change the laws,” he said.

D’Angelo, 41, and Mr. Seale, 78, had met for the first time just a few hours earlier, but the survey of sites significant to the Black Panthers in Oakland and in Berkeley had been in the works for weeks, at the suggestion of D’Angelo, who first became interested in the militant groups as a teenager in Richmond, Va. (A reporter was invited to come along.)

For more than a decade, D’Angelo stayed out of the public eye, overwhelmed by the attention that came with his acclaimed 2000 album “Voodoo.” But he has long been concerned with issues of racial inequality and police brutality, he said, and after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., last year, he felt compelled to speak out. In December, he surprised fans by suddenly releasing the album “Black Messiah,” named after a term J. Edgar Hoover used to describe any charismatic black leader who could galvanize a movement. The album is searching and biting in its social commentary. On “The Charade,” D’Angelo sings, “All we wanted was a chance to talk/’Stead we only got outlined in chalk.” (D’Angelo and the Vanguard will perform at the Forest Hills Stadium on Sunday).

Mr. Seale has been an activist for half a century. He served as a spokesman for the Panthers in the late 1960s and ended his relationship with the group in 1974, after renouncing violence. As part of the Chicago Eight, he and other protesters were charged with conspiracy and inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Mr. Seale’s trial was severed from the proceedings, and he was imprisoned for contempt from 1969 to 1972.

Dressed in a black suede jacket and matching fedora, D’Angelo came across as an eager, patient student who’d done his research as he and Mr. Seale, in khakis and an undone tie, drove around in a borrowed 1964 Ford Falcon convertible. Over dinner later that night, they continued a passionate discussion about political action and the role of musicians in inspiring social change. [Read More]