The Trial of the Chicago 7

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The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a 2020 film about the Chicago Seven, a group of anti–Vietnam War protesters charged with conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Directed and written by Aaron Sorkin.
In 1968, democracy refused to back down.

Abbie Hoffman[edit]

  • That's right, we're not goin' to jail because of what we did, we're goin' to jail because of who we are!
  • He does this, it's a pattern. Read his portion of the Port Huron Statement. He implies possessive pronouns and uses vague noun modifiers.

Tom Hayden[edit]

  • If blood is going to flow, let it flow all over this city!

William Kunstler[edit]

  • We've dealt with jury tampering, wiretapping, a defendant that was literally gagged, and a judge who's been handing down rulings from the bench that would be considered wrong in Honduras, so I'm a little less interested in the law than I was when this trial began.

Lee Weiner[edit]

  • This is the Academy Awards of protests and as far as I'm concerned it's an honor just to be nominated.


Sondra: You can't give this speech in Chicago!
Bobby Seale: Fred Hampton wants me there. Plane ticket.
Sondra: Let Fred give the speech!
Bobby Seale: Between Hayden and Hoffman there could be 5,000 people. It'd be nice to talk to 5,000 people.
Sondra: Not while you're in trouble in Connecticut.
Bobby Seale: Yes, well I'm in trouble - I'm the head of the Black Panthers, Sondra! When the hell am I not gonna be in trouble? Travel bag.
Sondra: You're going to be in a lot more of it if you stand up and say 'Fry the pigs!'
Bobby Seale: IF they attack me. You're taking it out of context.
Sondra: So will every white person in America! Cops won't give a shit about context, and you don't have enough protection in Chicago.
Bobby Seale: There's no place to be right now but in it.
Sondra: But 'Fry the pigs'?
Bobby Seale: IF they attack...
Sondra: Dr. King...
Bobby Seale: Is dead! He has a dream? Well now he has a fucking bullet in his head! Martin's dead, Malcom's dead, Medgar's dead, Bobby's dead, Jesus is dead. They tried it peacefully, we're gonna try something else.

Judge Julius Hoffman: And the record should reflect, that defendant Hoffman and I are not related.
Abbie Hoffman: [sarcastic] Father, no!
Judge Julius Hoffman: [bangs his gavel] Mr. Hoffman, are you familiar with contempt of court?
Abbie Hoffman: It's practically a religion for me, sir.

William Kunstler: Do you know why you're on trial here?
Abbie Hoffman: We carried certain ideas across state lines. Not machine guns or drugs or little girls. Ideas. When we crossed from New York to New Jersey to Pennsylvania to Ohio to Illinois, we had certain ideas. And for that, we were gassed, beaten, arrested, and put on trial.

Abbie Hoffman: In 1861, Lincoln said in his inaugural address: 'When the people shall grow weary of their constitutional right to amend their government, they shall exert their revolutionary right to dismember and overthrow that government.' And if Lincoln had given that speech in Lincoln Park last summer, he'd be put on trial with the rest of us.
William Kunstler: So, how do you overthrow or dismember, as you say, your government peacefully?
Abbie Hoffman: In this country, we do it every four years.

Richard Schultz: Do you have contempt for your government?
Abbie Hoffman: I think the institutions of our democracy are wonderful things, that right now are populated by some terrible people.
Richard Schultz: Please answer the question.
Abbie Hoffman: Tell me again?
Richard Schultz: Do you have contempt for your government?
Abbie Hoffman: I'll tell you, Mr. Schultz, it's nothing compared to the contempt my government has for me.

Reporter Jack: How much is it worth to you? What's your price?
Abbie Hoffman: To call off the revolution?
Reporter Jack: What's your price?
Abbie Hoffman: My life.

Tom Hayden: What is that?
Rennie Davis: I've been keeping a list every day. Americans who've been killed since the day we were arrested.
Tom Hayden: Why?
Rennie Davis: With the trial starting, it might get easy to forget who this is about.

William Kunstler: Of course, because you took that black guy and you made him a sympathetic character.
Judge Julius Hoffman: Mr. Kunstler, I have lived a a very long time, sir, and you're the first person ever to suggest that I have discriminated against a black man!
Leonard Weinglass: Then let the record show that I am the second.

Tom Hayden: Are we using the trial to defend ourselves against very serious charges that could land us in prison for ten years, or to say a pointless "fuck you" to the establishment?
Jerry Rubin: Fuck you!
Tom Hayden: That is what I was afraid... Wait, I don't know if you were saying "fuck you" or answering.
Abbie Hoffman: ...I was also confused.

Bernadine: [answering the phone] Conspiracy Office, how can I help you? [pause] No sir, I am a white woman. [pause] Yeah, I've slept with several in my life so far, and on balance, I'd have to say yes, it is better, and to tell you the truth, I think that's a big part of what's got you worked up.
Leonard Weinglass: Hang up the phone.
Bernadine: It's not even so much that it's bigger, it's just better, you know what I mean?
Leonard Weinglass: Hang up the phone.
[she does]
Leonard Weinglass: Was that a parting gift for Bobby?
Bernadine: No. That was just for me.

William Kunstler: Maybe you don't want to call it the Conspiracy Office.
Bernadine: They understand the irony, and appreciate the humor.
William Kunstler: I wouldn't count on it.
Bernadine: Most people are smart, Bill.
William Kunstler: Well, if you believe that, you'll get your heart broken every day of your life.

Abbie Hoffman: Winning elections, that's the first thing on your wish list? Equality, justice, education, poverty and progress, they're second?
Tom Hayden: If you don't win elections, it doesn't matter what's second. And it is astonishing to me that someone still has to explain that to you.

Richard Schultz: When you came to Chicago, were you hoping for a confrontation with the police? [pause] I'm concerned you have to think about it.
Abbie Hoffman: Give me a moment, would you, friend? I've never been on trial for my thoughts before.

Bobby Seale: [after being informed of Fred Hampton's murder] You've all got the same father, right? 'Cut your hair, don't be a fag, respect authority, respect America - respect me.' Your life, it's a 'fuck-you' to your father, right? A little?
Tom Hayden: Maybe.
Bobby Seale: Maybe. And you can see how that's different from a rope on a tree?
Tom Hayden: [quietly] Yeah.
Bobby Seale: Yeah. He was shot in the shoulder first. You can't aim a gun if you've been shot in the shoulder, you can't squeeze the trigger. Second shot was in his head. Fred was executed. Anything else?
William Kunstler: No.
[Bobby leaves the room without another word]

Ramsey Clark: I'm in private practice now, and if John Mitchell wants to cut me in half, he can and he will.
Tom Hayden: You have to find some... Sir, you have to find some courage now.
Ramsey Clark: Find some courage? Yeah.
Tom Hayden: Yes. You have to find some courage, and...
Leonard Weinglass: [silencing him] Tom.
Ramsey Clark: [points at Kelly and Ackerman] That's what those two men came to tell me, that if John Mitchell wants to cut me in half, he can and he will. So I wanted them in the room when I said 'When do you want me in court?'
Howard Ackerman: [standing in surprise] Mr. Clark?
William Kunstler: I'm sorry?
Ramsey Clark: Swear me in, Bill.
Howard Ackerman: It is against the law for you to testify, Ramsey. It is as simple as that.
Ramsey Clark: It's General Clark. And arrest me or shut the fuck up. [turns to Hayden] Found some.

Abbie Hoffman: This is a political trial—that was already decided for us. Ignoring that reality is just weird to me.
William Kunstler: There are civil trials, and there are criminal trials. There's no such thing as a political trial.
Abbie Hoffman: [scoffs] Okay...

Tom Hayden: Our. Our. Our blood. If our blood is going to flow...
Abbie Hoffman: You meant to say, 'If our blood is gonna flow, then let it flow all over the city.' You didn’t mean the cops! You were saying, 'If they’re gonna beat us up, everyone should see it.'

(Rennie Davis and Abbie Hoffman encounter prosecutor Richard Schultz in public on a weekend when court is not in session and Davis harangues Schultz, as a representative of the American federal and municipal governments, for the prosecution of the Chicago 8 and for the dirty tactics of dispatching undercover police officers and intelligence agents to infiltrate protest groups)

Rennie Davis: don't send a woman to... to ensorcel me!
Abbie Hoffman: What?
Rennie Davis: It means “to enchant”.
Abbie Hoffman: Oh.
Rennie Davis: ...only to have her crush my soul!
Richard Schultz: How long did you two know each other?
Rennie Davis: Ninety-three hours. Could have been a lifetime.
Richard Schultz: For a fruit fly; enjoy your weekend. (begins to walk away)
Rennie Davis: Is... is that even ethical? Aren't there ethics rules?
Richard Schultz: Did she engage with you sexually?
Rennie Davis: We were taking it slow.


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