Note From Jon


Friday, June 15, 2007

Right to Remain Silent

Got a chance to check out Brett Morgen's documentary Chicago 10 at the AFI Silverdocs festival tonight. It was even better than I expected, extremely powerful. I felt it created a sense of what it was like living in that era (although how would I know right?). But the updated soundtrack and the events of today make it feel much more relevant than a historical piece. I get the sense that the political and anti-war tensions were much more extreme then than they are now, which causes my initial reaction to be "well maybe everything isn't so bad right now" but actually deeper down I'm afraid that what's really happened is that this time there just aren't the people willing to stand up against the slide into a police state and a culture of perpetual war.

What's interesting is that after watching the film it wasn't any image of police beating rioters etc. that came across as the most powerful, it was hearing Bobby Seale ordered by judge Hoffman to be taken into an adjoining room and dealt with by the bailiffs. The film portrayed that the disruptions he caused were primarily his attempts to be allowed to defend himself in the trial. He was returned into a U.S. courtroom bound to his chair and gagged. I was stunned. While the entire court proceedings were recreated through animation, the transcript was taken from the court record and clearly recorded the judge referring to the bound and gagged defendant. According to the film, Bobby Seale was removed from the Chicago 8 trial at that point and received 4 years in prison for contempt of court (2 years of which were served before he was acquitted of all charges). I definitely need to do more research on these times and events.

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