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Thursday, September 23, 2004 

This day in movement history

Today marks the 35 anniversary of the "Chicago 8" (7) trial. Following the "Czechago" police riot during the Democratic Convention in 1968, eight activists were put on trial for conspiracy to cross state lines to incite a riot. Among them were members of Students for a Democratic Society, Abbie Hoffman's Yippees and Bobby Seale of the Black Panther Party (formerly known as the BPP for Self Defense).

Seale demanded that he be allowed to defend himself, a move blocked by the judge. When Seale persisted in his attempt, he was gagged and tied to a chair in the court room. In the end the defendants and their attorneys were found guilty of 175 counts of contempt of court, and six of the eight were found guilty of itent to riot. All criminal convictions and most of the contempt charges were later overturned.

The trial showed both the lengths to which the state was wiling to go in order to persecute the Black liberation and New Left movements as well as movement activists' ability to turn a bad situation into a platform to push the message of US withdrawal from Viet Nam.

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