“It got a lot of attention, and should have.”. Underneath, they were wearing Chicago police uniforms. Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) was head of the Chicago Panthers, which leaned towards more militant methods. .This isn’t a biopic. Through carefully crafted production, the film blurs the lines between 1968 and 2020, rightfully so. “Myself and others in [the antiwar group Students for a Democratic Society] (SDS)] went to Chicago to convince the kids in their teens and early 20s who had been campaigning for McCarthy to give up their illusions about getting change within the system,” says Michael Kazin, a history professor at Georgetown University who is currently writing a history of the Democratic party. The protests turned to bloodshed. “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” written by acclaimed screenwriter, Aaron Sorkin, tells the true story of the 8 men put on trial for inciting violence during the 1968 Chicago riots that followed the assassinations of JFK, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. I thought, ‘This is crazy. On one occasion which, of course, is included in the movie, the two yippies arrive in court wearing judicial robes, which they removed on the judge’s orders to reveal blue policeman’s uniforms underneath. He soon grew tired of politics and turned to writing, producing A Lonely Rage in 1978 and a cookbook titled Barbeque'n with Bobby in 1987. Courtroom drawings of poet Allen Ginsberg and musician Country Joe McDonald at the Chicago Eight trial. Rennie Davis: Now 80, Davis founded the Foundation for a New Humanity, a Colorado-based project to develop a comprehensive plan for a new way of living. Abbie Hoffman (played by Sacha Baron Cohen) and Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong) were the counterculture activists of the Youth International Party (yippies), who brought a tie-dye, merry-prankster sensibility to their anti-authoritarianism. California Do Not Sell My Info Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, A Few Good Men), the movie dramatizes the infamous, at times farcical, trial of eight men accused by President Nixon’s Justice Department of criminal conspiracy and crossing state lines to incite a riot. Hoffman—played by Cohen with a surprisingly respectable New England accent (Hoffman hailed from Worcester. At the time, a lot of prominent writers and performers were involved with the anti-war movement, and the witness list reflected this. Fifty years later, here’s why the Chicago Eight trial that opened on September 24, 1969 was such a big deal. Anti-riot laws were all at the local or state level until the passage of the 1968 Civil Rights Act, which included a provision making it illegal to cross state lines to incite a riot. Hayden is depicted as a clean-cut anti-war activist who stands up when the judge walks into the courtroom (he reflexively forgets that the defendants all agreed to stay seated) and gets a haircut for his first day in court. Protesters outside the courthouse each day chanted the iconic mantra: “The whole world is watching!”. He died in 1994 at 56 after he was hit by a car near his Brentwood, California, home. Even Kunstler received a four-year sentence, in part for calling Hoffman’s courtroom a “medieval torture chamber.”, “There was a lot of electricity in the air,” recalls Charles Henry, professor emeritus of African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley, who attended the trial while in college. Fifty-two years later, the movie, like the trial itself, points to the power citizens can exert through protest in the face of authoritarian rule. According to Gitlin, once Nixon became President in 1969, his Justice Department formed a special unit to orchestrate a series of indictments and trials. Director Aaron Sorkin is hopping back on the political drama train with Netflix's The Trial of the Chicago 7. A leader in America’s civil rights and antiwar movements, he moved into mainstream politics and served in the California State Assembly for a decade and the California State Senate for eight years. Twice a week we compile our most fascinating features and deliver them straight to you. Over 100 major U.S. cities experienced disturbances, resulting in roughly $50 million in damage. Two years later, an appellate court threw out all of the convictions and the sentences Judge Hoffman had handed down—including Seale’s four years for contempt—citing the fact that the judge had been obviously biased against the defendants. He pored over the original transcripts, read numerous books on the trial and the politics of the ’60s and spent time with Hayden (who died in 2016) as part of his writing process. Froines, who is now a professor emeritus of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, wasn’t arrested that day. When the judge told him he couldn’t, Seale—the sole black defendant—called him a racist, and continued his attempts to represent himself in court. Three months before the Chicago Eight trial began, a group of prominent writers and thinkers published a letter to the editors of The New York Review of Booksarguing that the “[Sorkin] shows that Abbie is willing to sacrifice his life. You will get the essence of these real-life people and the kernel of who they are as human beings, not the historical facts. On October 29, about a month after the trial started, the judge became irate and ordered staffers to chain Seale to his chair and gag him so he couldn’t speak anymore. ... after riots broke out at the 1968 … “His whole face was basically covered with a pressure band-aid, but he could still be heard through it trying to talk to the jury,” recalls Rennie Davis, a co-defendant in what became known as the Chicago 8 trial (later Chicago 7 when Seale was legally severed from the group and was tried separately. “What I remember most vividly were Kunstler and Weinglass, who were doing the talking for the defense at the time, getting up a couple of times and before they could get a word out of their mouths [Judge] Hoffman overruled. From a left-wing point of view, the conflict between the “revolutionaries” and the Chicago establishment was a straightforward story of good vs. evil. Continue When the judge demanded they remove their robes, they took them off and stomped on them. All Rights Reserved. (The incident inspired the Graham Nash song “Chicago” released a year and a half later. 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. The following year, the new Government of Richard Nixon – thanks to a hardline attorney general and a new administration keen to demonstrate its ‘law and order’ credentials – rounded up a smorgasbord of protestors and charged them with crossing state lines to incite a riot. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is the latest movie directed by Aaron Sorkin, with a scheduled release date in mid-October. The Trial of the Chicago 7: Plodding and pedantic reading of the 1968 riots Review: The film fails to engage with the radicalism of Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. 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