New Exhibit on the Chicago Eight Conspiracy Trial

This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the country’s most controversial cases, the Chicago Eight Conspiracy Trial.

In late August 1968, the city hosted the Democratic National Convention at the International Amphitheatre, which was located on the south side. This was a tumultuous time in America; Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert “Bobby” Kennedy had been assassinated that same year, and the country was in the middle of a very controversial war in Vietnam.

Activists saw the Democratic National Convention as an opportunity to protest the War and their leaders. They filed for permits to protest in the city’s parks, but most were denied; instead, they were granted one rally at Grant Park and an 11 o’clock nightly curfew. Because of these restrictions, riots erupted in the parks and the streets, leading to violence between the police and protestors.

Sixteen men were held responsible for this disaster: eight police officers and eight protestors. None of the police officers received any punishment—either their charges were dropped or they were cleared in court. The protestors, on the other hand, had became co-defendants in a long, messy trial.

This exhibit presents the chaos of the Chicago Eight Conspiracy Trial through the lens of three courtroom sketch artists: Andy Austin, Franklin McMahon, and Verna Sadock. Each has a unique artistic style that brings to life the characters and events that ensued.

Special thanks to Andy Austin, Robert Hirsch, Margot McMahon, and the Chicago History Museum for their contributions. This exhibit will be on display for the next several months on the third floor of the Pritzker Legal Research Center.

If you have any questions, please contact Brittany Adams, the Special Collections, Digitization, and Archival Services Librarian.

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