(CBS Local)– It’s been over 50 years since anti-Vietnam War protesters were arrested and put on trial for conspiring to start a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The infamous court case involving activists such as Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden and others is the subject of the new Aaron Sorkin Netflix movie “The Trail Of The Chicago 7” and also a new Simon & Schuster book from lawyer Danny Greenberg.
Greenberg and his colleagues Mark L. Levine and George C. McNamee condensed the transcripts from the trial into the highlights from the testimony on both sides. After a summer featuring protests across the country over racial injustice, Greenberg believes this book is coming out at the perfect time.
“50 years ago, my friends and I got a hold of the transcript of the Chicago 7 Trial. It was all over the news and Chicago was front and center with the Democratic National Convention and there were huge protests about that,” said Greenberg, in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “What ensued was simply a police riot and we got a hold of the transcript of the trial. A year later, The Justice Department under Richard Nixon started a prosecution. It had the racism of how they treated Bobby Seale, it had a police riot wading into peaceful demonstrators, it had a corrupt and egocentric president using his office and it had a Justice Department being used for partisan purposes.”
Meanwhile, Sorkin’s new movie starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeremy Strong hits Netflix on Friday, October 16. Greenberg’s book is perfect to read alongside the movie and he says this trial is one of the most fascinating in our country’s history.
“The trial was so amazing. The defendants probably for the first time in history decided not to be complicit with the system,” said Greenberg. “They acted out, they called out the judge and the called out the U.S. Attorneys. They decided that it would be a show trial because after all it was a show trial. It’s incredibly cinematic in the book and the movie.”
Greenberg says the biggest lesson to be learned here is that people working together and creatively can make change. The lawyer thought about Hoffman, Rubin, and Tom Hayden this summer as he watched young activists protest all over the country and he believes this generation has the opportunity to take their change to the next level.
“It’s really an ode to young people and it’s to say to young people you don’t have to cooperate with systems,” said Greenberg. “Use your creativity. I was a young kid back then and I was radicalized as a young progressive lawyer trying to make those kinds of changes. That to me is what it’s about. Understand your role and your power in making change. It occurred to me that people in their 20’s and 30’s grew up with Barack Obama. It was understandable that they weren’t radicalized by that because of how smart, progressive and wonderful he was. We should be in the streets. All those things that Donald Trump and the Republican Party have done and people being in the streets is what is important.”
Greenberg’s book is available now wherever books are sold.