1970 February 18

1968 Chicago Protesters Convicted of Inciting to Riot


The federal government prosecuted eight anti-war leaders for their actions at the 1968 Democratic Party Convention (see August 28, 1968). Black Panther Party leader Bobby Seale’s case was severed from the others, changing the Chicago Eight to the Chicago Seven. All seven were acquitted of conspiracy on this day. However, five were found guilty of crossing state lines to incite riot, in violation of the new 1968 Anti-riot Act, signed into law on April 11, 1968. Those found guilty were Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, and Rennie Davis. Two were acquitted of all charges: John Froines and Lee Weiner. All of the convictions were subsequently overturned on appeal.

Judge Julius Hoffman, who had shown clear bias against the defendants during the trial, also issued contempt citations against all of the defendants and their attorneys, William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass (February 15, 1970). The contempt citations were reheard by another judge, who upheld some of the charges but did not sentence either to prison.

The Walker Report (December 1, 1968), the official investigation of the events at the Democratic Party Convention, labeled them a “police riot.”

Read the Walker Report about the “Police Riot” at the 1968 Democratic Party Convention: Daniel Walker, Rights in Conflict (1968)

Learn more about the protests and the Democratic Party Convention: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/protests-at-democratic-national-convention-in-chicago

Watch a documentary on the 1968 Democratic Party Convention: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Iye1NQy1NY

Watch a documentary on the trial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_a-sFuzmloE

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