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Chicago Seven Trial: 1969

Seale Bound And Gagged

Seale wouldn't be stifled. He continued to disrupt the proceedings, yelling such epithets as "pig" and "fascist" at Hoffman, likening him to a plantation slave owner. Finally, on October 29, Hoffman's thin reserve of patience ran out and he ordered Seale gagged and bound to a chair. As Seale struggled to free himself, court attendants roughly manhandled him, an action that brought Kunstler to his feet in loud protest: "Your Honor, are we going to stop this medieval torture that is going on in this courtroom? I think this is a disgrace."

With the situation fast getting out of hand, Judge Hoffman declared a mistrial as to Seale, thus severing his case from the other seven defendants. Simultaneously he found Seale guilty of 16 counts of contempt and jailed him for four years.

Virtually overshadowed by this extracurricular mayhem was the fact that the prosecution had amassed a formidable case against the remaining accused. Its main witnesses were police officers, each of whom testified to examples of incendiary behavior on the part of the accused.

Robert Murray, an undercover police sergeant, described being in Lincoln Park, scene of one particularly violent clash between police and demonstrators, and seeing defendant Jerry Rubin in conversation with a television newsman. When the reporter had intimated that he was about to leave, Murray claimed that Rubin had called him back, saying, "Wait, don't go right now. We're going out in the ball field. We want to see what these pigs [police officers] are going to do about it."

Prosecutor Foran asked, "How many police officers were standing there?"

"Ten policemen," said Murray, "and one sergeant."

Murray had carefully monitored Rubin's behavior throughout the night.

I saw him walking through the park, walking up to small groups, having a conversation with them and leaving… I heard him say that "we have to fight the pigs in the park tonight.… we're not going to let them take the park.'

Crucial evidence of intent to riot came with the testimony of newspaper reporter Dwayne Oklepek, who spoke of attending a meeting August 9, 1968, at which defendants Hayden, Davis, and Froines were present. Oklepek told how Davis produced a street map of Chicago and plans for a march on August 28, 1968: "Mr. Davis felt that the separate groups should form up and then attempt to move their way south to the Loop area.… He went on to say that he thought these groups should try to disrupt traffic, should smash windows, run through stores and through the streets."

"Do you recall anything else that was discussed?" asked Foran.

"Someone asked Mr. Davis what would occur if it were impossible for the demonstrators to get out of Lincoln Park … and Mr. Davis said, 'That's easy, we just riot.'"

In this fashion the prosecution was able to mount a strong case of incitement to riot, at least against some of the defendants, but whether that incitement fell within the provisions of the recent law, with its proviso that a state line had to be traversed, remained in doubt.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972Chicago Seven Trial: 1969 - Seale Bound And Gagged, Star-studded Witnesses Appear, Guilty Verdicts Multiply, Suggestions For Further Reading