‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ Is Relevant in 2020

The parallels between America during the time of the trial and today are striking.


Political movie dramas have taken over TV streaming platforms, bringing notorious court cases, justice movements, and political events from over the years in our country back to life. The Trial of the Chicago 7, released on Netflix in September, is based on the infamous trial in 1969 about the Anti-War riots that took place in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Seven lead activists were charged with “conspiracy and crossing state lines with intention of inciting riots.” The movie explores the events surrounding American politics in the late 1960s and the notorious trial.

“The Chicago 7” began as eight men: Rennie Davis and Tom Hayden, leaders of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, leaders of the Youth International Party (Yippies), David Dellinger, leader of the Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam (The Mobe), Lee Wiener and John Froines, heavily involved activists in the National Mobilization Committee and finally, Bobby Seale, founder of the Black Panther Party. 

The movie emotionally and forcefully displays the events that took place in the courtroom, as well as America during this period. In 1968 alone 296,406 men were inducted into the army to fight in the Vietnam War. Heavily against the draft, “The Chicago 7” decided to hold a huge rally next to the DNC to call for an end to the war. Targeted by the police, the event soon became violent and leaders were arrested. 

Perhaps the most powerful aspect of the movie was the similarities to current events in the United States. In the movie, John Mitchel, President Nixon’s Attorney General opened the case against “The Chicago 7” with no evidence of them inciting riots. He was warned by his legal team that the case would be extremely difficult due to the lack of evidence or facts, however, he persisted in beginning the trial. He believed that his money, power, and status would be enough to have the seven incarcerated even without any clear proof. This mantra is a clear parallel to the way President Trump views issues revolving around his presidency and American politics. His wealth, privilege, and position have led him to believe that he can get away with actions or decisions that would be deemed impossible for any other individual. 

Another distinct similarity between The Trial of the Chicago 7 and America in 2020 are the marches and protests that are taking place. The emotion felt today in 2020 surrounding the fight for racial justice mirrors the emotion displayed by protestors fighting against the Vietnam war in 1968. Thousands of American soldiers were dying in the war and many Americans were outraged. Upset Americans used protests as a way to express their emotions as well as fight the war and end the draft. In 2020, as a response to police brutality and racial injustice in the US, many Americans have been using protesting as a strategy to create change. The method of protesting and marching as a way to stand up to the prevalent issues in our country has been used for many years in America, which can be clearly seen in the movie.  The Trial of the Chicago 7 movie is powerful and meaningful, as it explores the important events that took place in America during 1968 and “The Chicago 7.” The parallels between America during the time of the trial and today are so striking that it feels like it could’ve taken place this year. Watching the movie and seeing these similarities show how there is still so much to be done surrounding equality and justice in our country.