Tom Hayden (speaking into the microphone) and Rennie Davis (in the striped shirt) were two of the "Chicago 7." Both were leaders of the anti-war protests that led to violent clashes with Chicago police during the 1968 Democratic Convention.
Photograph courtesy U.S. District Court for the Eastern (Chicago) Division of the Northern District of Illinois and the National Archives

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  • On February 18, 1970, the “Chicago 7”—a group of seven young political protesters—were found not guilty of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Five defendants were found guilty of lesser charges, although those charges were dropped in 1972. 
     
    The Chicago 7 were part of thousands of people protesting at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Most protests were directed at Democratic President Lyndon Johnson’s policies in Vietnam. Protesters and members of the Chicago police clashed violently. Johnson resisted taking legal action against the protesters because he held the police more responsible. 
     
    The trial of the Chicago 7 began six months later, under new (Republican) President Richard Nixon. The trial included testimony from celebrities such as poet Allen Ginsberg and politician Jesse Jackson, as well as some of the defendants in costume (as police officers), mocking the judge, and blowing kisses to the jury.
     
    The Chicago 7 were originally the Chicago 8—Black Panther activist Bobby Seale was tried separately from the rest of the (white) defendants after consistently accusing the judge of racism. Seale received a four-year sentence for contempt of court.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Black Panther Noun

    member or associate of the Black Panther Party, an American political party advocating militant, radical justice and equality for African Americans.

    conspire Verb

    to plot or secretly plan to do something illegal or wrong.

    contempt of court Noun

    crime or offense of being disrespectful to a court of law and its officers, including judges and lawyers.

    incite Verb

    to encourage or stimulate.

    legal Adjective

    allowed by law.

    protest noun, verb

    demonstration against a policy or action.

    racism Noun

    government or social system based on the belief that one ethnic group is superior to all others.

    riot Noun

    large, violent, public disturbance.

    testimony Noun

    statement given by a witness under oath at a trial or other legal proceeding.