At the beginning there were 8. Eight militants wrongly accused of conspiracy and incitement to revolt. Yet one of them was too many. His name is Bobby Seale and he had co-founded the Black Panther Party For Self Defense two years earlier. He was at the wrong time, in the wrong place, you might say. In Aaron Sorkin’s film, The Chicago Seven, it is the excellent Yahya Abdul Mateen who lends him his features. Throughout his trial and as faithfully recounted in the feature film, the man will try to explain that he is innocent of the charges brought against him and that he never participated in the organization of this march against the war. from Vietnam. Worse, he is denied the right to postpone the trial in order to be represented by his lawyer. Bobby Seale was, like the other accused, then the victim of a political trial. His presence has only one interest: to make the accused even more radical than they are. It is in a complicated socio-political context and when race riots are raging outside that the judge in charge of this case will make a decision fraught with meaning.
During the trial, Bobby Seale effectively chained contempt of court, repeatedly asking to defend himself and to bring witnesses to the stand, citing the 6th Amendment. On October 29, after several months of trial and Seale called him “racist” and “fascist,” Judge Hoffman asked the officers to tie him to his chair and gag him. An ordeal that Seale will live for several days and which will shock those present. William Kunstler, defense lawyer played in the film by Mark Rylance, even got angry in front of the judge: “When will we stop this ancient torture? It’s a shame for justicee “. This scene will be reproduced with force and accuracy in The Chicago Seven.
This event, little known in France, is representative of an era and still echoes the news today. He will be mentioned in two songs – “Chicago” by Graham Nash and “H2Ogate Blues” by Gil Scott-Heron.