This week in history: Chicago Seven acquitted

On Feb. 18, 1970, the defendants known as the Chicago Seven were able to breathe a sigh of relief after being found innocent of charges that they conspired to incite a riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

The month of August 1968 brought two very separate groups of people from across the nation to the city of Chicago, Illinois. While political leaders were meeting for the National Democratic Convention in order to select a presidential nominee, social protesters were also gathering to denounce the Vietnam War and the military draft process.

The social protests that took place that week were abnormal, violent and powerful. They were also one of the most iconic moments used to represent the anti-establishment culture of the sixties and early seventies.

Angered by the spectacle and the attention it had been receiving from the media, Richard Daly, Chicago mayor, ordered police to use any force necessary against the protesters.

While different individuals and organizations present at the protests had individual reasons for being in attendance, many feared being drafted into the Vietnam War, despised American involvement or were concerned with international issues and rights.

Hoping that politicians, voters and the general public would take notice of their demonstrations, the protesters spoke out, delivered speeches, wrote poems, chanted and engaged in symbolic interactions before being tear-gassed, beaten and bloodied by the local police and National Guard.

Once the situation began to calm down, seven men were charged with inciting the riots that led to the violence and destruction.

These men were David Dillinger, chairman of the National Mobilization Against the War; Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, activists and leaders of the Yippie movement; Tom Hayden and Rennie Davis, founders of the Students for a Democratic Society; John Froines and Lee Weiner.

By the end of the trial, which lasted about five months, every defendant and their lawyers had been charged with contempt of court for ridiculing the judges, the courtroom, the trial and the American government.

On Feb. 18, 1970, the Chicago Seven were acquitted of all conspiracy charges brought against them.