William Ramsey Clark

William Ramsey Clark

William Ramsey Clark was born in Dallas, Texas, on 18th December, 1927. His father, Tom C. Clark, was a civil district attorney.

Ramsey Clark served in the United States Marine Corps during the Second World War. He earned a B.A. degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1949, and an M.A. and a J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1950.

Harry S. Truman appointed Tom C. Clark as the Attorney General of the United States (1945-1949) and as an associate justice of the Supreme Court (1949-1967).

Ramsey Clark was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1950 and the following year he became an associate and partner in the law firm of Clark, Reed and Clark. In 1961 Clark was appointed as the Assistant Attorney General of the Lands Division. After the assassination of John F. Kennedy he worked in a liaison capacity with the Warren Commission. In 1965 Lyndon B. Johnson appointed him as his Deputy Attorney General.

Ramsey Clark played an important role in the history of the American Civil Rights movement. During his years at the Justice Department, he supervised the drafting and executive role in passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and supervised federal enforcement of the court order protecting the march from Selma to Montgomery.

In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated him to be Attorney General of the United States, he was confirmed by congress and took the oath of office on 2nd March. Later that day District Attorney Jim Garrison announced the arrest of businessman Clay Shaw on charges of conspiring to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. The new Attorney General stated that the FBI had already investigated and cleared Shaw "in November and December of 1963" of "any part in the assassination".

As Jim Garrison pointed out: "However, the statement that Shaw, whose name appears nowhere in the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission, had been investigated by the federal government was intriguing. If Shaw had no connection to the assassination, I wondered, why had he been investigated?" Within a few days of this statement Clark had to admit that he had published inaccurate information and that no investigation of Shaw had taken place.

In an interview on Face the Nation on 12th March, 1967, CBS correspondent, George Herman, asked Clark about the death of David Ferrie. Herman asked Clark why documents concerning Ferrie had been classified by the FBI and the Justice Department. Clark replied: "No, those documents are under the general jurisdiction of the General Services Administration." According to Bernard Fensterwald, this was untrue as the Ferrie documents had specifically been classified under orders from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

In 1968 Attorney General Ramsey Clark appointed a panel of four medical experts to examine various photographs, X-ray films, documents, and other evidence pertaining to the death of President John F. The Clark Panel argued that Kennedy was struck by two bullets fired from above and behind him, one of which traversed the base of the neck on the right side without striking bone and the other of which entered the skull from behind and destroyed its upper right side.

Ramsey Clark was also the subject of criticism a year later when he announced that there was "no sign of conspiracy" in the assassination of Martin Luther King, several weeks before James Earl Ray, the alleged assassin, had been arrested. Ramsey Clark later admitted he suspended Cartha DeLoach from his position as FBI liaison, as a result of his behaviour over the arrest of James Earl Ray.

On 25th January, 1969, Ramsey Clark's final day as Attorney General, he ordered the Justice Department to withhold from Jim Garrison, the X-Rays and photographs from the autopsy of John F. Kennedy.

After leaving office he worked as a law professor and was active in the Anti-Vietnam War movement. He visited North Vietnam in 1972 as a protest against the bombing of Hanoi. In 1974, he was nominated in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senator from New York but lost the election to the incumbent Jacob K. Javits.

In 1991, Clark accused the administration of President George H. W. Bush and "others to be named" of "crimes against peace, war crimes" and "crimes against humanity" for its conduct of the Gulf War against Iraq.

in 1999 he condemned NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He also defended Slobodan Milošević and argued that : "History will prove Milošević was right. Charges are just that: charges. The trial did not have facts."

Ramsay Clark joined a panel of lawyers to defend Saddam Hussein in his trial before the Iraqi Special Tribunal. He appeared before the tribunal in November 2005 arguing "that it failed to respect basic human rights and was illegal because it was formed as a consequence of the United States' illegal war of aggression against the people of Iraq." Clark has also described the War on Terrorism as a War against Islam.

Ramsey Clark was born to power. In 1945, the Clark family made its leap from Dallas to DC when Ramsey's dad Tom Clark, a lobbyist for Texas oil interests, was appointed Attorney General by President Harry Truman. In his Texas days, the politically ambitious elder Clark was cultivated as a useful connection by New Orleans mafia kingpin Carlos Marcello, and many feared Clark's new job would afford organized crime access to higher levels of power.

AG Clark was repeatedly mired in corruption scandals. In 1945, he was accused of taking a bribe to fix a war profiteering case. In 1947, after he had four convicted Chicago mob bosses sprung from prison before their terms were complete, Congress appointed a committee to investigate - and was effectively roadblocked by Tom's refusal to hand over parole records.

Truman admitted to a biographer that "Tom Clark was my biggest mistake." But he insisted: "It isn't so much that he's a bad man. It's just that he's such a dumb son of a bitch."

AG Tom Clark played along with the post-war anti-communist hysteria, approving federal wiretaps on Alger Hiss, the State Department official accused being a Soviet mole. In 1949, he moved over to the Supreme Court. Carlos Marcello biographer John Davis asserts that the kingpin continued to funnel money to Clark when he sat on the high court...

An embittered casualty of the 1960s, Clark assumed a leftist posture after leaving the Justice Department. He became the lawyer for anti-war protestor Philip Berrigan, headed a private probe into the FBI killings of Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, and travelled to Vietnam to condemn the bombing.

In a 1974 bid for Senate in New York, he played the centrist in the Democratic primary, with Bella Abzug on the left and Daniel Moynihan on the right. Moynihan won. Clark, now 46, appeared to burn his bridges with the establishment at this point.

Clark said today the Federal Bureau of Investigation already has investigated and cleared Clay L. Shaw - a businessman arrested in New Orleans - of any part in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy...

Clark said the Justice Department knows what Garrison's case involves, and does not consider it valid.

Clark said Shaw "was included in an investigation in November and December of 1963."

"On the evidence that the FBI has, there was no connection found between Shaw and the assassination of the President in Dallas on November 22,1963," Clark said.

We'd been searching for James Earl Ray, the assassin of Dr. King, and I had been in daily contact with them about it. I'd go over and see the evidence and hear what they had and they'd send me reports... They were showing me everything...

The day of Bob Kennedy's funeral I went up to St. Patrick's ... When I came out of the church, an agent said, "Mr. Attorney General, Mr. DeLoach says that it's urgent that you call him immediately." When I called them, they said that they had captured James Earl Ray in London and that he had tried to hold it up until after the funeral but he couldn't hold it up because Scotland Yard or somebody was saying, "We can't do that," and so they released the story apparently during the church service. I was a little puzzled by that... I got back to Washington and some of my people were really upset because they said there had been this long typed announcement of the arrest, that it had been laid on their desk either the night before or that morning...

I never have understood why. I mean, it's too bizarre for me to understand, but for some reason they decided they'd remind everybody the FBI was still on the job about that time of day and they did. I think I could have taken that. I mean, it's an idiosyncrasy and kind of a petty one, but the thing I couldn't take was that I believed that I'd been lied to, and you can't function that way. I'd been told with some elaboration that they'd tried to hold up and couldn't do it when in fact it had been just the opposite, that they had held up just to release it at that time.

When we arrested Shaw, the United States government awakened like an angry lion. Whoever in my office was the government's contact had been caught napping by our unheralded apprehension of the man. There followed roars of outrage from Washington, D.C. and shrill echoes from the news media.

From Ramsey Clark, the attorney general of the United States, there came the pronouncement that the federal government already had exonerated Shaw from any involvement in President Kennedy's assassination. This high-level revelation, and the attorney general's subsequent friendly colloquy with Washington reporters, seemed to leave no doubt that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had investigated Clay Shaw and given him a clean bill of health. One newsman asked Clark directly if Shaw was "checked out and found clear?" "Yes, that's right," replied the attorney general. Needless to say, this tableau did not exactly make me look like District Attorney of the Year.

However, the statement that Shaw, whose name appears nowhere in the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission, had been investigated by the federal government was intriguing. If Shaw had no connection to the assassination, I wondered, why had he been investigated? The implications of Clark's statement apparently raised similar questions in Washington, and Clark soon beat a strategic retreat. "The attorney general," a justice Department spokesman announced, "has since determined that this was erroneous. Nothing arose indicating a need to investigate Mr. Shaw."

Shortly after Clark's pronouncement, however, an unnamed Justice Department official announced that the department had been well aware that Clay Shaw and Clay Bertrand were one and the same individual and that the F.B.I. had indeed investigated Clay Bertrand. This confirmed the facts as we had found them. Nonetheless, despite the backpedaling by the justice Department, the attorney general's initial pronouncement was the one that got all the headlines. It had struck a serious blow at the integrity of our investigation.

One point man for the Johnson Administration in damaging Garrison's case was Ramsey Clark. In March of 1967, right after his confirmation as Attorney General by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Clark made an extraordinary intervention into the case: he told a group of reporters Garrison's case was baseless. The FBI, he said, had already investigated Shaw in 1963 and found no connection between him and the events in Dallas. When pressed on this, Clark insisted that Shaw had been checked out and cleared.

But in his haste to discredit Garrison, Clark had slipped. The obvious question, though not pursued by the Washington press corps, was why back in 1963 the upstanding citizen Shaw had been investigated concerning the assassination at all. Shaw and his lawyers realized the implication of Clark's gaffe even if the Attorney General did not. When one of Shaw's attorneys, Edward F. Wegmann, requested a clarifi¬cation of Clark's statement, a Clark subordinate tried to control the damage by asserting that the original statement was without foundation: "The Attorney General has since determined that this was erroneous. Shaw."

Things got even worse for Clark. The same day he made his original announcement, a New York Times reporter, Robert Semple, wrote that the Justice Department was convinced that "Mr. Bertrand and Mr. Shaw were the same man." Semple had gone to the National Archives seeking Warren Commission references to Clay Shaw. Finding zero, he was told that the Justice Department believed that Bertrand and Shaw were actually the same man, and that this belief was the basis for the Attorney General's assertion.

Clark had come to praise Shaw but instead had implicated him. However, Clark was not through trying to aid Shaw and sandbag Garrison. The AG would have a surprise for the DA at the upcoming trial...

In July of 1967, Garrison had tried to expedite matters by filing for an early trial date. For one thing, he wanted to stop Phelan and Sheridan from tampering with, intimidating, and making offers to witnesses. But when he saw that the defense was determined to drag out the pre-trial phase, he decided to use the interval to secure more evidence from the government. Here, Ramsey Clark, his nemesis, blocked his path.

After the Attorney General had bungled his first attempt to discredit Garrison's case, he secretly tried another method. Garrison had been trying to secure the original JFK autopsy photos and x-rays to exhibit at the trial. They would form an important part of his case, since, to prove a conspiracy, he had to present evidence against the Warren Report, which maintained there was no conspiracy and that Oswald had acted alone. In 1968, Clark convened a panel of experts - which did not include any of the doctors who had performed the original examinations - to review what was extant of the photos and x-rays. In early 1969, just a few days before he left office and on the eve of the trial, Clark announced that this panel had endorsed the findings of the Warren Report. The panel released its findings, but none of the original evidence on which it was based. And when Garrison again requested the autopsy materials, he was turned down by Clark's Justice Department.

William Ramsey Clark - History

My late husband Lyndon LaRouche and Ramsey Clark both had an unbounded respect for each other, recognizing in each other that specific quality of character, incapable of committing falseness or making any kind of compromise with the truth for personal benefit. Both of them had the character of the World War II generation, the better part of which shared the moral outlook of Franklin D. Roosevelt: that it was the moral obligation of the United States to help developing countries overcome the relicts of colonial underdevelopment. The better people of that generation had a truly republican set of values, in the sense of the American revolution and were not tainted by any of the several paradigm changes of the post-war generations.

Ramsey Clark, on his own initiative, became a lawyer for my husband in the appeals after his 1989 conviction. He was appalled by the legal atrocities of the conviction in the Alexandria, Virginia “rocket docket” court. The short time allowed, only three weeks, for the preparation for a very complex trial, and the haste of the jury selection, guaranteed that there would be no way to investigate possible prejudice in prospective jurors, meant justice could not occur.

Clark presented testimony to Independent Hearings convened August 31-September 1, 1995 to investigate allegations of gross misconduct by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), saying:

But in what was a complex and pervasive utilization of law enforcement, prosecution, media, and non-governmental organizations focussed on destroying an enemy, this case must be number one. There are some, where the government itself may have done more and more wrongfully over a period of time but the very networking and combination of federal, state, and local agencies, of Executive and even some Legislative and Judicial branches, of major media and minor local media, and of influential lobbyist types, the ADL [Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith] preeminently, this case takes the prize.

The purpose can only be seen as destroying—It’s more than a political movement, it’s more than a political figure. It is those two but it’s a fertile engine of ideas, a common purpose of thinking and studying and analyzing to solve problems, regardless of the impact on the status quo, or on vested interests. It was a deliberate purpose to destroy that at any cost.

In the years that Lyn, an innocent man, was sitting in jail, I was in touch with Ramsey Clark. He gave me invaluable advice, which contributed to our ability as an organization to survive this very difficult period. Later, after Lyn was freed thanks to, among other things, the intervention of hundreds of parliamentarians from all over the world, cardinals, bishops, decorated military men, members of governments and artists, Ramsey participated in many Schiller Institute events. He visited us periodically, both in Europe and in the United States.

Over these years he became close to both of us. While we came from different political backgrounds, our discussions would focus on subjects of universal significance, constitutional principles, the relation of individual freedom to the well-being of the state, the fight against repression in specific historical periods, or the importance of personal integrity for the creative ability of the individual. As is the nature of such discussions, they tend to transcend the limits of particular political affiliations and establish what is common to humanity. In this sense, Ramsey became a very important friend.

Son of a Supreme Court justice

Ramsey Clark learned about American politics and government at an early age. His father was Tom Campbell Clark (1899–1977), who served his country as both a U.S.Attorney General (from 1945 to 1949) and a U.S. Supreme Court justice (from 1949 to 1967). Ramsey Clark's career eventually carried him into the world of American law and politics as well. Raised in Texas, he joined the U.S. Marines in 1945. After leaving the military one year later, he went on to college. In 1949 he graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelor's degree. That same year, he married Georgia Welch, with whom he eventually had two children. He then continued his education, securing both a master's degree and a law degree from the University of Chicago.

Clark worked from 1951 to 1961 in a Dallas law firm. In 1961 he accepted a post as an assistant attorney general with the U.S. Justice Department. Four years later, he was promoted to deputy assistant attorney general. And in 1967 President Lyndon Johnson—a longtime friend of the Clark family—selected him to succeed Nicholas Katzenbach as U.S. Attorney General. At that time, his father, Tom Clark, retired from the Supreme Court because his son, as the Johnson administration's leading law officer, would be arguing many cases in front of the Supreme Court. Tom Clark knew that if he remained on the Supreme Court, he would be faced with a serious "conflict of interest"—a circumstance in which his public obligation to make impartial (fair) rulings might clash with his personal interest in seeing his son succeed.

Attorney General: William Ramsey Clark

William Ramsey Clark , the son of Tom C. Clark, the Fifty-Ninth Attorney General, was born in Dallas, Texas, on December 18, 1927. He served in the United States Marine Corps in 1945 and 1946, and then earned a B.A. degree from the University of Texas in 1949, a M.A. and a J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1950. He was admitted to the Texas bar in 1951, and to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States in 1956. He was admitted to the D.C. bar in 1969 and the New York bar in 1970. From 1951 to 1961 Clark was an associate and partner in the law firm of Clark, Reed, and Clark. He served in the Department of Justice as Assistant Attorney General of the Lands Division from 1961 to 1965, and as Deputy Attorney General from 1965 to 1967. Clark was director of the American Judicature Society in 1963. From 1964 to 1965 he was national president of the Federal Bar Association. On March 2, 1967, President Johnson appointed him Attorney General of the United States. He served in that capacity until January 20, 1969. He died April 9, 2021.

Robert Berks was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1922. He studied at the Boston Museum of Fine Art and was also a pupil of Hyman Bloom. Berks is primarily a sculptor and has modeled busts of many famous Americans including President Lyndon B. Johnson, General William C. Westmoreland, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A Berks bust of President John F. Kennedy stands in the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D. C., and his bust of Robert F. Kennedy is in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice. Berks' portrait of Attorney General Ramsey Clark was painted in 1973.

Chicago 7 Judge Bars Ramsey Clark As Defense Witness

CHICAGO, Jan. 28 —Judge Julius J. Hoffman barred Ram sey Clark, the former United States Attorney General, from testifying today as a witness for the defense in the Chicago conspiracy trial.

After a bitter dispute that consumed much of the day, Judge Hoffman upheld a Gov ernment objection to Mr. Clark's appearance, ruling that he could make “no relevant or ma terial contribution” to the case of the so‐called Chicago 7.

William M. Kunstler, a de fense attorney, contended that the judge's ruling was “abso lutely unheard of in the history of the United States” and “sets a precedent that is horrendous to contemplate.”

Mr. Kunstler said he could recall no American criminal case during which a witness willing to testify for the de fense was barred from the stand by the judge.

Several prominent law professors consulted today said they regarded Judge Hoffman's ruling as extremely unusual. The seven defendants here are charged with conspiracy to incite a riot during the. 1968 Democratic National Conven tion in Chicago.

Ramsey Clark was Attorney General at the time and, in that capacity, played a major role in framing security meas ures for the convention.

Two previous defense wit nesses, both former Justice De partment officials, testified that Mr: Clark met them here before the convention to try to open “lines of communication” be tween Chicago officials and leaders of planned demonstra tions.

Judge Hoffman ruled today after ordering Mr. Kunstler to interrogate Mr. Clark out of the presence of the jury.

Mr. Kunstler strenuously ob jected, contending that this procedure was “grossly uncon stitutional” and amounted to a “screening of the witnesses for the benefit of the Government.” But Judge Hoffman overruled the objection.

Mr. Kunstler then asked Mr. Clark 38 questions. The Govern ment objected to 14 of them on the ground that the answers would violate Federal regula tions against disclosure of Jus tice Department files and “other security matters.” Judge Hoff man upheld every objection.

In answer to one of the clues tions that were allowed, Mr. Clark said he telephoned Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago on July 25, 1968, to set up an ap pointment with him for Roger Wilkins, then an Assistant At torney General.

He said Mr. Wilkins later told that his conversation with the Mayor was “not very satis factory” and that Mr. Daley was “not very conciliatory.” In contrast, Mr. Clark said, Mr. Wilkins was “favorably impressed” by Rennie Davis, one of the demonstration lead ers, who is a defendant in this trial.

In answer to another ques tion, Mr. Clark said he re ceived a telephone call about the Chicago situation from President Johnson at 11:50 A.M. on Aug. 20, 1968.

But Richard Schultz, the as sistant United States Attorney, objected to Mr. Clark's relating the substance of the conversa tion, arguing that “a Cabinet officer should not relate a tele phone conversation with the President of the United States.” Judge Hoffman upheld the objection.

Mr. Clark did tell of his par ticipation at a meeting in the White House Oval Room on Aug. 21, 1968, also attended by President Johnson, two Presi dential aides and three Defense Department officials.

Another Conversation

He said the meeting con cerned the dispatch of Federal troops to. Chicago—a decision that Mr. Clark apparently op posed—but Judge Hoffman up held a Government objection to any further testimony about the meeting.

Mr. Clark also told of a tele phone conversation the day aft er the convention with Thomas A. Foran, the United States At torney who is the chief prose cutor in this case.

He said he had told Mr. Foran to investigate convention disorders through Justice De partment lawyers “as is gener ally done in civil rights cases,” rather than through a grand jury.

Several days later, however, a Federal grand jury was im paneled. The next spring, it handed down indictments against the defendants in this trial and against eight Chicago policemen.

The jury in the current trial never got a glimpse of Mr. Clark today and never knew he was in the building.

Before the jury could enter the courtroom this morning, Mr. Schultz rose to ask that Mr. Clark be barred from the stand on the ground that “nothing he I could say would possibly be admissible.”

He said a Justice Department official had been present at a meeting last Sunday at Mr. Clark's home in Falls Church, Va., during which the former Attorney General discussed his possible testimony with two de fense attorneys and two defend ants.

From the official's memoran dum, Mr. Schultz said, it was clear that the defense intended to call the former Attorney General only for “the prestige” he might shed on the defend ants' case.

In turn, Mr. Kunstler charged that the Government's objec tion was “activated by fear— pure and simple fear of letting the jury see the former Attor ney General of the United States on the stand testifying for the defense.”

Envoy to the Deep South

At the Justice Department, Mr. Clark rode herd over litigation concerning preservation of natural resources. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy repeatedly sent him to the South to be a point man in the civil rights struggle there, not least because of his Texas drawl. Mr. Kennedy called him “the preacher” because of his opposition to Mr. Kennedy’s aggressive use of wiretaps to catch mobsters.

In 1965, Mr. Clark was named deputy attorney general, the No. 2 job in the Justice Department under Attorney General Nicholas deB. Katzenbach. In that post, Mr. Clark was the chief federal government officer present at the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march in 1965. That same year he was appointed chairman of a task force that investigated urban unrest after the Watts riots in Los Angeles. He helped draft the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.

He was named acting attorney general in October 1966, after Mr. Katzenbach left the Justice Department to be an under secretary of state. He was officially named attorney general the following March.

The closest historical correlate to his father’s resignation from the Supreme Court to make way for him was when Charles Evans Hughes was appointed chief justice in 1930. His son, Charles Jr., then resigned as solicitor general, the lawyer who represents the federal government before the court.

As the Vietnam War came to dominate the Johnson administration, Mr. Clark later said, the president was well aware of his opposition to it and expelled him from the National Security Council, where attorneys general often sit.

But at other times Mr. Clark seemed to support the war. In 1967, he told the president that antiwar protesters had been infiltrated by Communists, the historian Robert Dallek wrote in 1998 in “Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973.” Former Secretary of State Dean Rusk wrote in his memoirs that he had sat next to Mr. Clark in cabinet meetings for years and had never heard him criticize the war.

As late as 1968, while campaigning for Johnson in Wisconsin — before the president stunned the country by announcing that he would not seek the Democratic nomination again — Mr. Clark shouted at protesters, telling them that they should take their grievances to Hanoi.

That same year, in Boston, he began the prosecution of five antiwar activists, charging the famed pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock, the Yale chaplain William Sloane Coffin Jr. and three other men with conspiring to undermine selective service laws. Four of the so-called Boston Five were convicted, but two of the convictions were overturned on appeal. The remaining defendants, Mr. Coffin and the author Mitchell Goodman, were ordered retried, but the government dropped the case.


In August 1968, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, David Dellinger, Lee Weiner, John Froines, and Bobby Seale make preparations to protest the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Five months later, they are arrested and charged with trying to incite a riot. John N. Mitchell, the Attorney General, appoints Tom Foran and Richard Schultz as the prosecutors, while all the defendants except Seale are represented by William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass.

Judge Julius Hoffman shows significant prejudice for the prosecution. Seale's attorney, Charles Garry, cannot attend due to illness, leading Judge Hoffman to insist that Kunstler represent him. This insistence is rejected by both Kunstler and Seale. Seale receives support from Fred Hampton which Judge Hoffman assumes is legal help. Abbie Hoffman openly antagonizes the court. Judge Hoffman removes a juror who he suspects sympathizes with the defendants due to reported threats from the Black Panther Party and charges the defendants and their attorneys with multiple counts of contempt of court. Tension builds between the defendants.

Numerous undercover police officers and FBI agents testify. At the time of the convention, Hayden noticed two police officers tailing Davis and attempted to let the air out of their tire, but was caught and later arrested. Abbie and others led a protest to the police station where Hayden was detained but turned around upon seeing the police blockade outside. When trying to return to the park, police had taken control of the hill with orders to disperse the crowd leading to a riot between police and protesters.

Days later, the defendants learn that Fred Hampton was killed during a police raid. In retaliation for Seale continuing to speak up for his constitutional rights, Judge Hoffman has him taken to another room, beaten, and returned gagged and chained. This causes the defense and the prosecution to object, and Judge Hoffman declares Seale's case a mistrial.

The defense puts Ramsey Clark, Attorney General during the riots, on the stand. Judge Hoffman refuses to let him testify in front of the jury as he had declined to initiate prosecutions after the riots because of evidence that the Chicago Police Department instigated them. Dellinger punches a bailiff, resulting in his arrest.

Kunstler presents a tape implicating Hayden to the defendants and preps Hayden for cross-examination. On the night of the riot, Davis tried to pacify officers trying to arrest someone climbing a flagpole. After the police clubbed Davis's head, an enraged Hayden exclaimed, "If blood is going to flow, then let it flow all over the city!". The defendants were cornered by police and beaten. Abbie deduces that Hayden had misspoken, claiming the statement would have started with, "If our blood is going to flow. ." Realizing that mistake would be exploitable on the stand, Hayden asks Abbie to testify. Abbie agrees.

At the end of the trial, Hayden is given a chance to make a case for a lenient sentence. However, over Judge Hoffman's objections, Hayden uses his closing remarks to name the 4,752 soldiers who were killed in the Vietnam War since the trial began. This act prompts many in the court to stand and cheer.

    as Tom Hayden, a leader and one time President of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) as Abbie Hoffman, founding member of the Youth International Party (Yippies) as Rennie Davis, organizer in Chicago for the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam and the national organizer of community organizing for the SDS as Jerry Rubin, founding member of the Yippies as David Dellinger, leader of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (MOBE) as Lee Weiner as John Froines as Bobby Seale, national chairman of the Black Panther Party and eighth defendant as William Kunstler, defense counsel, co-founder of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), board member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and active member of the National Lawyers Guild. as Richard Schultz, assistant federal prosecutor as Leonard Weinglass, defense counsel as Tom Foran, chief federal prosecutor as Judge Julius Hoffman as Fred Hampton, chairman of Illinois Chapter Black Panther Party as Ramsey Clark, United States Attorney General during the riots as John N. Mitchell, United States Attorney General during the trial
  • Wayne Duvall as Paul DeLuca, agent assigned to surveil Davis during the protests as Daphne O'Connor, FBI agent assigned to Rubin, in order to infiltrate the protests and C. J. Wilson as Officer Stan Wojohowski and Sergeant Scott Scibelli, undercover police officers as Howard Ackerman, special advisor to Mitchell
  • Alice Kremelberg as Bernardine, receptionist in the defendants' office
  • Alan Metoskie as Allen Ginsberg

Development Edit

Aaron Sorkin stated to Vanity Fair in July 2020 that he first found out about the planned film during a visit to Steven Spielberg's home in 2006, specifying that Spielberg "told me he wanted to make a movie about the riots at the 1968 Democratic Convention and the trial that followed." He also added that he had no previous knowledge of these events, stating, "I left not knowing what the hell he was talking about." [3]

In July 2007, Sorkin wrote the script for The Trial of the Chicago 7, based on the conspiracy trial of the so-called Chicago 7. [4] Executive producers Spielberg, Walter F. Parkes, and Laurie MacDonald collaborated on the development of Sorkin's script, with Spielberg intending to direct the film. In 2007, Spielberg approached Will Smith for the role of Bobby Seale, and planned to meet with Heath Ledger about playing Tom Hayden. [5] The Writers Guild of America strike, which started in November 2007 and lasted 100 days, [6] delayed filming and the project was suspended. [7] Sorkin later continued to rewrite the script for Spielberg, and the director intended to mostly cast unknowns to keep the budget down. [8]

In July 2013, it was announced that Paul Greengrass would direct, [9] but he exited the project two months later when a budget could not be agreed upon, [10] and it did not move forward. In July 2020, Vanity Fair reported that Spielberg had decided to resurrect The Trial of the Chicago 7 "a year and a half ago." [3] In October 2018, Sorkin was announced as the director of the film. [11] In December 2018, the film was put on hold due to budgetary concerns, [12] until it was revived and ready for distribution offers, [13] with Paramount Pictures initially picking up distribution rights, as the film was excluded from Amblin Partners' distribution deal with Universal Pictures. [14] Sorkin tells Variety, "Spielberg saw Molly's Game and was sufficiently pleased to suggest I direct ‘Chicago 7’ and (Donald) Trump was elected. At his rallies, Trump started being nostalgic about the good old days beating up protestors and the movie became relevant again. At that time, I had no idea how relevant it would come with the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor." [15]

Sorkin was in post-production of The Trial of the Chicago 7 when anti-racism protests started sweeping the country following the police killings of Taylor and Floyd, and tells Entertainment Weekly that he made changes to the film to "add quick cuts to crime scene stills [from Hampton's killing], police stills, black-and-white photographs of the bullet holes in the wall, of a blood-stained mattress, of five police officers almost smiling standing there, and adding the sound effect of a camera shutter," and "now in the world of Rayshard Brooks and Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, having those shots and having one of them be police officers obviously resonates today." [16]

Casting Edit

In October 2018, Baron Cohen and Eddie Redmayne joined the cast, [11] [17] and in November 2018, Jonathan Majors was added as well. [18] In February 2019, Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Alex Sharp joined the cast as well, with Michael Keaton being considered for a role. [19] In August, Frank Langella and Mark Rylance were added to the cast. [14] In September, Jeremy Strong was cast, replacing Rogen. [20] In October, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II joined the cast to replace Majors, [21] with Kelvin Harrison Jr., [22] Keaton, [23] William Hurt, J. C. MacKenzie, [24] Max Adler and Ben Shenkman being added as well. [25]

Filming Edit

Principal production was set to begin in September 2019, but began the next month in October between Chicago and New Jersey. [26] [27] [28] Filming in Morris County, New Jersey, took place in Hennessy Hall, affectionately known as "The Mansion," on Fairleigh Dickinson University's Florham Park campus and Hyland Hall (located within Henderson Hall) and at Santa Maria at College of Saint Elizabeth the production also filmed in Grant Park in Chicago, and in Hudson County, New Jersey in Hoboken. [29] [30] The film had a production budget of $35 million, with $11 million going towards the cast. [1]

Music Edit

The score was written by British composer Daniel Pemberton, who also wrote the score for Aaron Sorkin's 2017 film Molly's Game. [31] The soundtrack, titled The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Music from the Netflix Film), [32] [33] was released digitally under American record label Varèse Sarabande and Universal Music Group on October 16, 2020. [34] [35] The soundtrack features three original songs performed by British singer Celeste, including "Hear My Voice," which served as the lead single and was released on October 8, 2020. [36] [37] The song was also submitted to the 93rd Academy Awards for Best Original Song in September 2020. [38] "Blood on the Streets" was released as a promotional single on October 15, 2020, a day before the release of both the soundtrack and film. [39] A physical CD edition of the soundtrack was released on November 20, 2020. [40]

Recording of the soundtrack took place in Studio Two at Abbey Road Studios and was conducted by Sam Okell, with assistance from Christopher Parker and Jack Thomason. [31]

All music is composed by Daniel Pemberton. Other composers and producers are yet to be confirmed.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 was originally scheduled by Paramount Pictures to begin a limited theatrical release on September 25, 2020, before going wide on October 16, 2020. [41] [24] On June 20, 2020, due to the movie theater closures because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, it was reported Netflix was in negotiations to acquire rights to the film. [42]

On July 1, 2020, the company officially closed a $56 million deal to distribute the film. [43] It was released in select theaters on September 25, 2020, Paramount's original date, and was made available digitally on Netflix on October 16. [44] [45] Although Netflix does not publicly release the box office results of its films, Deadline Hollywood reported that the film averaged about 10 people per show at the 100 theaters it was playing in its opening weekend. [46]

Upon its digital release, it was the second-most streamed film over its debut weekend, which IndieWire called "higher than usual for a more-serious entry Netflix title." [47] It finished in tenth the following weekend. [48] In November, Variety reported the film was the eighth-most watched straight-to-streaming title of 2020 up to that point. [49] In March 2021, Variety reported the film was among Netflix's most-watched Oscar-nominated titles, and assigned it an "audience appeal score" of 58 out 100. [50]

Critical response Edit

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 89% based on 324 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "An actors' showcase enlivened by its topical fact-based story, The Trial of the Chicago 7 plays squarely – and compellingly – to Aaron Sorkin's strengths." [51] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 76 out of 100 based on 49 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews." [52]

Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper gave the film four out of four stars, saying, "Certain events are rearranged from the factual timelines, and yes, The Trial of the Chicago 7 exercises poetic license. This is not a documentary it's a dramatization of events that resonates with great power while containing essential truths, and it's one of the best movies of the year." [53] IndieWire's Eric Kohn gave the film a "B," saying Sorkin "directs his own blunt, energetic screenplay with the convictions of a storyteller fully committed to the tropes at hand," and that Sacha Baron Cohen "steals the show." [54] Owen Gleiberman of Variety praised Baron Cohen's and Redmayne's performances and said, "Sorkin has structured The Trial of the Chicago 7 ingeniously, so that it's never about just one thing. It's about the theatrical insanity of the war in the courtroom, about how the government would stop at nothing (including flagrant attempts at jury tampering), and about the politics, at once planned and spontaneous, of how the Chicago protests unfolded." [55]

However, some critics found that the film distorted the lines between fictional elements and actual events. Jeremy Kagan, the writer and director of the 1987 film Conspiracy: The Trial of the Chicago 8, says "Sorkin is a gifted director and brilliant writer, but I am concerned that the generations who did not live through this time will now think of this version as what happened. And it wasn’t and isn’t. It is an interpretation." [56] Nathan J. Robinson of Current Affairs writes, "Sorkin takes [. ] creative liberties with history that end up distorting it," including in how "Bobby Seale, the Black Panther defendant who was infamously bound and gagged in the courtroom [. ] actually managed to repeatedly wriggle out of the physical restraints the government put on him the film portrays the government as effective in silencing him." [57] Arionne Nettles of the Chicago Reader gave the film three stars and observes that it also "shows Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, supporting Seale—until police killed him in his home, in his bed, on December 4, 1969," noting, "The onscreen timeline of these events, however, are different. The film shows Seale being gagged the day after Hampton was killed, when he was actually gagged on October 29 and severed from the case on November 6." [58] Matthew Dessem at Slate offers a comparison of some of the film's events and characters to the actual history and suggests Sorkin "plays pretty freely with characters and events to ensure his clockwork screenplay hits exactly the right beats in exactly the right order." [59] Jordan Hoffman of The Times of Israel criticized the film for obscuring or otherwise erasing the Jewish heritage of much of the Chicago 7, particularly of Hoffman and Rubin. [60]

Several critics discuss the conclusion of the film, including Jeremy Kagan, who writes, "While this works as effective narrative cinema, it was David Dellinger who read the names, as shown in my film. It was also earlier in the trial [. ] and he read the names of the Vietnamese as well as Americans who had died." [56] In a review for The New York Times, Jason Bailey quotes the sentencing statement from Rennie Davis to Judge Hoffman: “You represent all that is old, ugly, bigoted, and repressive in this country, and I will tell you that the spirit of this defense table will devour your sickness in the next generation,” which Bailey describes as "the most Sorkin-eseque dialogue in the transcript," and its exclusion from the film as "downright baffling." [61] Arionne Nettles of the Chicago Reader, who found Sorkin's portrayal of Fred Hampton in the film made it "hard to not think of Breonna Taylor’s similar death earlier this year," writes, "although this dramatized ending did not actually occur this way, it makes a statement: there’s a responsibility to stand up when the world is watching, to remember those who lost their lives, and to say their names." [58] John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter writes, "Sorkin has made a movie that's gripping, illuminating and trenchant [. ] It's as much about the constitutional American right to protest as it is about justice, which makes it incredibly relevant to where we are today." [62]

The Trial of the Chicago 7 appeared on 39 critics' year-end top-10 lists, including first place on three. [63]

RAMSEY Genealogy

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I wish to convey my sincerest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of my friend and legal counsel William Ramsey Clark who passed away last April 9, 2021. I have the highest regard for him as a champion of human rights, a staunch defender of the people’s right to national and social liberation, a fierce advocate of just peace and a resolute opponent to the imperialist policies and wars of aggression of the US.

While he was US Attorney General under the Johnson administration, he was well known for standing up for civil liberties and civil rights, fighting against racial segregation and discrimination and enforcing anti-trust laws. It was in certain cases involving the US war of aggression in Vietnam that he had to agonize as a prosecutor on behalf of the US government. But after he was out of government, he visited North Vietnam as a protest against the bombing of Hanoi.

Ramsey Clark used his knowledge of history, political wisdom and legal expertise to identify the major aggressions which the US committed after World War II. These victimized Korea from 1951 onward, Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Republic of the Congo in 1961, Vietnam from 1959 to 1975, the Dominican Republic in 1965, Nicaragua from 1981 to 1988, Grenada from 1983 onward, Libya in 1986 and again in 2011, Panama in 1989-1990, the Gulf War in 1991, Somalia in 1991-1992, Iraq from 1993 onward, Yugoslavia in 1999, Sudan in 1988, Afghanistan from 2001onward, Iraq from 2003 onward and Haiti in 2004.

From 1998 onward while I was the Chairperson of the International Preparatory Committee that founded the ILPS in 2001, I was in communication with Ramsey Clark as the chairman of the International Action Center (IAC) concerning US imperialism in global affairs. Our communications became more frequent when the IAC and ILPS cooperated in opposing the US war of aggression against Iraq and the ensuing so-called global war on terror. The relations of the two major international organizations became stronger and more fruitful.

I became deeply indebted to Ramsey Clark when he publicly defended me and opposed the act of the US government in designating me as “foreign terrorist” in 2002. Likewise he opposed my being named in the EU terrorist list in line with the US precedent. My Filipino lawyer, the late Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, had extensive consultations with him in New York concerning these lists.

And when I met Ramsey Clark in The Hague on February 25, 2005, I expressed to him my gratitude for his solidarity and support to me against the “terrorist” listing initiated by the US government since August 9, 2002. We discussed the implications and the consequences of the “terrorist” listing, the legal and physical threats posed by the US and the possible legal and political counter-measures.

We also exchanged views on the situation in the US, Philippines and the world at large, the criminal impeachable acts of US President Bush, the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, the forthcoming global mass protests, the escalating US military intervention in the Philippines and the US sabotage of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations through the “terrorist” listing”.
Ramsey Clark came again to my defense after I was arrested in Utrecht on August 28, 2007 and detained by Dutch authorities in The Hague national penitentiary up to September 13, 2007.

On September 1, 2007, he declared that the murder charges against me had been trumped up by the Philippine authorities, that they had already been dismissed by the Philippine Supreme Court and that the Dutch authorities had no competency over the issue.

I met Ramsey Clark again in The Hague on September 8, 2008. I thanked him again for his moral and legal support. I briefed him on the status of my legal cases in The Netherlands, European Union and the Philippines. I pointed to the series of court decisions favorable to me, such as those of the Hague district court and the Court of Appeals, which resulted in my release in the previous year.

I also recalled to him the Philippine Supreme Court decision dismissing the charge of rebellion against me on July 2, 2007, and the European Court of First Instance declaring illegal on July 11, 2008 my being blacklisted as a “terrorist” since 2002. Clark gave his legal observations and agreed with me that the false charges of murder, rebellion and terrorism were politically motivated.

Ultimately, the Dutch authorities would finally dismiss the false murder charges against me in 2009. And within that year the European Court of Justice also ruled and ordered the removal of my name from the so-called EU terrorist list.

Clark discussed the situation in the US and the world at large. He decried the severe economic and financial crisis and the wars of aggression unleashed by the US. At the same time, he was glad about the growing people’s resistance along the anti-imperialist and democratic line.

As chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), I proposed to Clark, as chairperson of the US-based International Action Center, the holding of an international conference on the people’s rights to liberation and development in accordance with the Algiers Declaration and the International Bill of Rights. We would engage in further communications on this matter.

I mention the solidarity and support that Ramsey Clark extended specifically to me by way of showing concretely his readiness to help others. But the Filipino organizations in the US and the Philippines can say more about the various ways by which he has been in solidarity and support for the Filipino people in their struggle for national and social liberation even as he had to pay attention to many issues and struggles in many countries.

Ramsey Clark won the respect of the the people of the world and from the most respected institutions. In 1992 he received the Gandhi Peace Award and the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award for his commitment to civil rights, his opposition to war and military spending and his dedication to providing legal representation to the peace movement. The United Nations awarded him in 2002 its Prize in the Field of Human Rights for his steadfast insistence on respect for human rights and fair judicial process for all.

Long before his demise, William Ramsey Clark had won the love and respect of entire peoples of the world and received the honors in recognition of his greatness and concrete deeds in the service of the oppressed and exploited people in need of support and assistance. He will always be remembered and will continue to inspire us to uphold, defend and advance the just cause of greater freedom, democratic rights, social justice, development, international solidarity and peace against imperialism and all reaction.

Ramsey And Me: My Brief History With Ramsey Clark (RIP)

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark has passed away. I have a little story about him and I.

While I was in law school Ramsey Clark wrote a book accusing the United States of endless war crimes in the First Persian Gulf War. I read various discussions of the allegations and knew them to be based on false representations of international law related to warfare. At the time one of my requirements as an editor on the Houston Journal of International Law was to write an article relating to international law of “publishable quality.”

I bough t Clark’s book, “No Fire This Time” and regarded it as a senseless hack piece. Rebutting his book became the article I had to write. Citing, quoting and applying the actual international laws of warfare I wrote, “No Fire This Time: False Allegations of American War Crimes In The Persian Gulf.” The article was published in The Military Law Review and even caught the attention of former President George H.W. Bush who in a personal letter to me stating that he was directing the article be included in his Presidential library at Texas A&M.

Shortly after I wrote the article Ramsey Clark came to Houston to speak to a conference on legal issues associated with involuntary confinement of the mentally ill. I attended the conference where he was keynote speaker. I brought with me Clark’s book and my paper.

I was surprised to find my Property Law professor there was well. We sat together and my Professor read my paper while Clark spoke. Afterwards Clark mingled with participants, and signed some autographs. My professor encouraged me to get Clark’s autograph.

I approached Ramsey Clark and truthfully told him I had read his book. He laughed and made a joke about how I must have been one of maybe three people in the country who had. I presented him his book and asked for his autograph. As you can see, he signed describing me as someone who “cares about peace.”

I then told him I wrote a paper about his book and handed him my paper. Without looking at it he thanked me and put it in his bag telling me he would read it on the plane. If he did I suspect he was disappointed.