"So your brother's bound and gagged
And they've chained him to a chair
Won't you please come to Chicago
Just to sing
In a land that's known as Freedom
How can such a thing be fair..."

~ Graham Nash - Chicago Songs For Beginners 1971
 


(1919 -1995)
 

The Life and Times of William Moses Kunstler  ( excerpt )
Interview by Dennis Bernstein & Julie Light  October, 1995 - Z Magazine

 

Why don't we start going through some of these amazing cases that you were a part of. Let's talk about the Chicago trials. Was it true in fact that Bobby Seale was bound and gagged at one point? Tell us about what was going on there.
 

Well, the trial went on for six months. The government had assembled a typical platoon of new left figures. They had people from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), they had the yippies, Jerry and Abbie; they had old line radical pacifists like Dave Dellinger, and then they had a black man, Bobby Seale, then chair of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, and Bobby was not permitted to have his own lawyer, Charles Garry. The judge would not delay the trial two weeks so Charlie could recover from a gall bladder operation. So Bobby would get up in front of the jury every time cross examination came and say "I have no lawyer and they'd wouldn't delay the trial, I must do this myself, I'll cross examine this witness." Then the judge would say "No, Mr. Kunstler is your lawyer, I appointed him," and Bobby would say "No, he's not my lawyer, Charles Garry's my lawyer." Finally in October the trial started, if my memory is correct, 25 years ago on the 23rd of September. October 30 the judge lost his cool and told the marshalls to take Bobby Seale out of the courtroom and do whatever was necessary. A half hour later the side door of the courtroom opened and four marshalls came in with a chair in their arms holding him up in the air, and there was Bobby chained to the chair and bound and gagged. It was a sight that I never expected to see in an American courtroom. The symbolism of a black leader bound and gagged in a courtroom was too much for anyone to bear; it skewered the whole case, and we knew that we could not lose at that point.
 
 

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