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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.