Protest on Trial: The Seattle 7 Conspiracy

Protest on Trial: The Seattle 7 Conspiracy

by Kit Bakke


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The Seattle 7 embodied late 1960s counterculture--young, idealistic, active organizers against racism and the Vietnam War, and fond of long hair, rock’n’roll, sex, drugs, and parties. In January 1970 they founded the Seattle Liberation Front (SLF). Nationally, the FBI was using tactics such as wiretapping, warrantless break-ins, and the placing of informers and provocateurs to destroy organizations like the SLF. But in Seattle, it went a step further.

After a protest at Seattle’s downtown federal building turned violent, seven SLF leaders--Michael Abeles, Jeff Dowd, Joe Kelly, Michael Lerner, Roger Lippman, Chip Marshall, and Susan Stern--faced federal conspiracy and intent to riot indictments. Their chaotic trial became a crash course in the real American judicial system. Carl Maxey and Michael Tigar led the defense team; the U.S. prosecuting attorney was Stan Pitkin. When Pitkin’s key witness faltered and the government’s case appeared doomed, the presiding judge issued a surprise ruling to end the trial and send the defendants to prison.

For this solidly researched oral history, the author conducted dozens of interviews with defendants, attorneys, FBI agents, jurors, and others. She also accessed the trial transcript, appeals briefs and depositions, media articles, books, and more.

Kit Bakke believes that the freedom to organize and protest are crucial to American democracy. She was active in Students for a Democratic Society and later Weatherman, participating in antiwar and anti-capitalism actions around the country.

Protest on Trial chronicles a significant, real-life slice of history, but it reads more like a well-crafted novel—a compelling narrative that feels completely contemporary, and reminds us that dissent—now no less than then—is the essence of democracy.--Bill Ayers, author of Fugitive Days, Public Enemy, and Demand the Impossible!

“Using impressive interviews as well as the revealing trial transcript, this excellent narrative of the Seattle 7 conspiracy trial makes contributions to the history of the Northwest, Seattle, radicalism, and activism. The book performs a valuable service in preserving both the memories and contemporary evidence about the long overlooked 1970 trial.”--William Rorabaugh, University of Washington Professor of History, author of American Hippies

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780874223569
Publisher: Washington State University Press
Publication date: 03/01/2018
Pages: 252
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Kit Bakke believes that the freedom to organize and protest are crucial to American democracy. She was active in Students for a Democratic Society and later Weatherman. She then became a pediatric oncology nurse and is today a wife, mother, and grandmother.

Table of Contents

Introduction: What's it All About? 1

Part 1 Dissent 5

1 The Lay of the Land 7

2 Meet the Seattle 8 17

3 Seattle Needs Liberating 33

4 TDA-The Day After: Stop the Courts! 43

5 Action and Reaction 57

6 Spring into Summer 73

7 Gearing Up for Trial 89

Part 2 Trial 97

8 Let the Circus Begin 99

9 A Peerless Jury is Seated 111

10 Jail Them, Not Us 121

11 The Rise and Fall of an FBI Provocateur 131

12 Calm Before the Storm 143

13 Mistrial! 149

14 A Double Dose of Contempt 157

Part 3 Consequences 169

15 Jailed Without Bail 171

16 "Free," Eventually 179

17 The Years After 189

Epilogue: The Harmony of Dissonance 201

Author's Note 211

Notes 215

Bibliography 233

Index 239

About the Author 241

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