Grand jury indicts Seattle Liberation Front (SLF) leaders on April 16, 1970, for conspiracy to riot in planning February demonstration.

  • By Walt Crowley
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • Essay 2130
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On April 16, 1970, a federal grand jury indicts Seattle Liberation Front (SLF) leaders for conspiracy to riot in planning a February 17, 1970 demonstration in Seattle. Charges are filed against Michael Lerner (b. 1943), Susan Stern (1943-1976), Charles "Chip" Marshall (b. 1945), Mike Abeles (b. 1951), Jeff Dowd (b. 1949), Joe Kelly (b. 1946), Roger Lippman (b. 1947), and Michael Justesen (b. 1950), who become known as the Seattle Eight and, after Justesen disappears, the Seattle Seven.

The charges were prompted by a violent demonstration in front of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Seattle on February 17, 1970. Ironically, that demonstration was held to protest the conspiracy trial of the "Chicago Seven," who had been indicted for conspiracy in planning protests during the August 1968 Democratic Party convention in Chicago.

The Seattle Seven defendants were tried in Tacoma before Federal District Judge George Boldt (1903-1984). After repeated courtroom disruptions, he declared a mistrial on December 10, 1970, and cited all seven defendants for contempt. All but Lerner ultimately served some jail time.


Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995); The Seattle Times, April 16, 1970; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 17, 1970.

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