Lee Weiner (born September 7th, 1939), a member of the Chicago Seven, was charged with "conspiring to use interstate commerce with intent to incite a riot" and "teaching demonstrators how to construct incendiary devices that would be used in civil disturbances" at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Weiner and his co-defendant John Froines were acquitted of the charges by the jury.
When the trial of the Chicago Eight began in the early fall of 1969, Weiner was a doctoral candidate and teaching assistant at Northwestern University, and had previously graduated from the University of Illinois, studied political philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and earned a master's degree in social work from Loyola University's School of Social Work in Chicago. At Northwestern University, Weiner worked for Professor Howard S. Becker as a research assistant.
The Chicago Eight defendants each contributed an essay to the book Conspiracy, published in November 1969. In Weiner's essay, "The Political Trial of a People's Insurrection," he writes:
Using the artificial, state-controlled rules of the court, the U.S. government's prosecutors and judge will attempt to interpret the people's insurrection in Chicago as the private and deliberate manipulation of eight evil men. The government will be desperate to play down the independent action of thousands of people who openly resisted illegitimate political and police power. The trial, therefore, must blur and soften the contours of what actually happened, and instead focus upon and magnify the roles of these eight men in particular. The alternative image - one of a popular insurrection rooted in the experience and desires of people that was put down by the deliberate exercise of state-controlled violence - too clearly focuses public attention on what America is all about. The government effort is intended to punish and frighten a growing, insurgent mass movement of both the young and concerned adults, and to protect the official myths of political reality in America.
J. Anthony Lukas described Weiner as "a strangely remote figure who shunned most of the defendants' extracurricular activities." According to Professor Douglas Linder at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, "Weiner rarely attended defense strategy sessions, perhaps out of a belief that their cause was hopeless. He spent most of his trial hours reading science fiction paperbacks or books on eastern philosophy. Weiner reacted to few courtroom developments, viewing the proceedings with a mixture of scorn and amusement."
According to Weiner, towards the end of the trial, "there was no question we would be put in jail. I ended up going, mostly for correcting my name. People always pronounced it Wee-ner. It's Wye-ner. When the judge would say Wee-ner, I would shout out, "It's Wye-ner," and he got pissed off and charged me with contempt, which was a perfect summary of my political stance. I was sentenced to two and a half months." Weiner was ultimately convicted on seven charges of criminal contempt that were later reversed and remanded following an appeal; after retrial, Weiner was acquitted of all contempt charges.
July 1, 1970 Weiner left Chicago and moved to Brooklyn, NY with his girlfriend, Sharon Avery. He had accepted an offer to teach in the sociology department of Rutgers University. People magazine reports that "[a]t a birthday party for Black Panther leader Bobby Seale in 1972, Weiner was overheard joking that he was "starting a new Communist party in New Jersey." The remark turned up in print, and he was told that his teaching contract at Rutgers would not be renewed."
In the years following the trial, Weiner has continued to work and protest for causes. He has worked for the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith in New York and participated in protests for Russian Jews and more funding for AIDS research, and currently works as vice president for direct response at the AmeriCares Foundation in Stamford, CT.
- The Chicago Conspiracy Trial: A Short Narrative. Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved on October 16, 2014.
- Indictment. published at Linder, D.O. "The Chicago Seven" (or "The Chicago Eight") Trial. University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. Retrieved on October 16, 2014.
- The Chicago 10. PBS. Retrieved on October 16, 2014.
- Conspiracy. (1969). P. Babcox, D. Babcox, & Abel, B. (Eds.). Dell Publishing: New York, p. 193.
- Becker, H.S. & Richards, P. (2010). Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, Or Article. 2nd Ed. University of Chicago Press. ReadHowYouWant edition at pp. 122-123 ("I don't think I realized how this reading and commenting and being read and commented on by peers affected my professional development until I hired Lee Weiner as a research assistant a few years after I started teaching at Northwestern. I was away the summer he began work, and as a conscious revolutionary, Lee (who later became one of the Chicago Seven), read all of my correspondence, although it was not part of his duties. When I returned in the fall, he told me excitedly how much he had learned by looking through the folders I kept on papers I had written, seeing what my friends had written on, and about, succeeding drafts, and how I had taken those comments into account in my next version.")
- Conspiracy. (1969). P. Babcox, D. Babcox, & Abel, B. (Eds.). Dell Publishing: New York.
- Conspiracy. (1969). P. Babcox, D. Babcox, & Abel, B. (Eds.). Dell Publishing: New York, p. 198
- J. Anthony Lukas. The Barnyard Epithet and Other Obscenities: Notes on the Chicago Conspiracy Trial. Harper and Row, 1970. 21., cited by Linder, D.O. "The Chicago Seven" (or "The Chicago Eight") Trial. University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. at Biography of Lee Weiner.
- Biography of Lee Weiner. Linder, D.O. "The Chicago Seven" (or "The Chicago Eight") Trial. University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. Retrieved on October 16, 2014.
- Kisseloff, J. (2006). Generation On Fire: Voices of Protest from the 1960s, An Oral History. University Press of Kentucky: Lexington, p. 94
- Biography of Lee Weiner. Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved on October 16, 2014.
- Kisseloff, J. (2006). Generation On Fire: Voices of Protest from the 1960s, An Oral History. University Press of Kentucky: Lexington, p. 94-95
- McCall, Cheryl. (1977, Sept 12). Their Anger Behind Them, the Chicago 7 Declare Peace in the '70s. People 8:11.
- New York Times News Service. (1994, Nov 29).1960s radical Jerry Rubin, 56, dies in California of heart attack. Baltimore Sun
- Bennett, K. (2010, Aug 27). Where Are They Now? Chicago Seven. AARP Bulletin