We Are All the Conspiracy

The Seattle 7, The Day After Protest, and Community Activism in 1970s Seattle

Image shows silhouettes of people waving flags, raising peace sign signal on hands, sitting in chairs, and playing music.
Page one of three page flier in support of freeing the Seattle 8. Flier made by the Seattle 8 Defense Fund.

University of Washington Special Collections. Vietnam War Era Ephemera Collection, 6209-001.

The Seattle 7 was a group of community activists who were members of a short-lived New Left group called the Seattle Liberation Front (SLF) from 1970-1971. Though the group’s initiators were new to Seattle, the SLF was made up of a largely local base with many University of Washington students 1)Roger Lippman, and Joe Kelly. 2020. “We Are All the Conspiracy Corrections,” August 31, 2020.. The Seattle 7 faced legal difficulties for nearly three years as the result of The Day After (TDA) Protest at the Seattle Federal Courthouse on February 17, 1970. The group’s legal difficulties began on April 16, 1970 when they were indicted and were almost complete by late 1972 when all of the members had finished their prison sentences for contempt of court. The original indictment was finally dismissed on March 22, 1973 2)“Court Order for Dismissal of Seattle 7 Indictment, March 22, 1973”..

The protest was part of a series of national protests coordinated for the same day to protest the sentencing of the Chicago 7 for conspiracy, inciting to riot, and for the treatment of Bobby Seale during his separate trial. As a result, the Seattle 7– who were all members of SLF with the exception of Roger Lippman, a leader for the Students for a Democratic Society–were charged and tried federally with conspiracy to incite a riot for their role at Seattle’s TDA protest 3)Roger Lippman, and Joe Kelly. 2020. “We Are All the Conspiracy Corrections,” August 31, 2020.. Though there were initially 8 members who were charged, one member–Michael Justesen– went into hiding after charges were brought upon the group.

Image shows two paragraphs of text expressing anti-war and anti-capitalist sentiment. The second paragraph focuses on the myth of impartiality in the legal system, specifically with conspiracy laws like the H. Rap Brown Act that have historically been used to criminalize the behavior of demonstrators.
Page two of three page flyer in support of freeing the Seattle 8. Flyer made by the Seattle 8 Defense Fund.

University of Washington Special Collections. Vietnam War Era Ephemera Collection, 6209-001.

Though the Seattle 7 had a loyal group of supporters through their trial, they faced a number of obstacles from the powers-that-be along the way. The federal government pursued charges against organizers in Seattle, despite TDA being smaller and less explosive than other TDA protests across the nation. Local newspapers published articles placing heavy blame on the leaders of SLF– several of which were not in Washington State at the time of the protest. While newspapers blamed SLF for inciting violence, first-hand accounts of the event from protestors and SLF directly contradicted this.

Protestors confirm that the escalation at TDA was started by police attacking a peaceful crowd, and the crowd responding in kind. Though there may have been attempts by infiltrators or federal agents to manipulate the crowd, ultimately the peaceful protest turned violent when law enforcement officers attacked the crowd. 4)Roger Lippman, and Joe Kelly. 2020. “We Are All the Conspiracy Corrections,” August 31, 2020.. Additionally, there may have been federal agents in the SLF who engaged or tried to encourage violence at TDA. The ensuing charges for conspiracy to incite riot while crossing state lines locked the accused in a legal battle for the next three years.

This digital exhibit explores the formation of the Seattle Liberation Front, the group’s activities, the TDA protest, and the resulting trial.

Third page of three page flier. This page inlcudes the quotation included in the image caption and a list of six charges against the Seattle 8. The page is has "bullshit" superimposed over the counts.
Page three of three page flyer in support of freeing the Seattle 8. Flyer made by the Seattle 8 Defense Fund. Excerpt from page three includes: “These eight people are charged with Conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intent to riot (H. Rap Brown law) from the Feb. 17 TDA demonstration at the Seattle Federal Courthouse. The TDA demonstration was protesting the exact same charges and the contempt citations on the Chicago Conspiracy 8. The seven men and one woman of the Seattle 8 are not charged with any specific acts at the demonstration, but are charged with attending public meetings, speaking at rallys and leafleting. These charges could be used against anyone at any time. They must be beat. Federal Courthouse – Nov. 9. Conspiracy: to breathe together!”

University of Washington Special Collections. Vietnam War Era Ephemera Collection, 6209-001.

About this Exhibit

This digital exhibit is hosted by the University of Washington’s Special Collections Library in Seattle, WA. The exhibit was planned to be a small, one-case exhibit in the mezzanine of an on-campus library, but after COVID-19 closed the libraries to the staff and to the public in March 2020, the exhibit transitioned to an online format.

Most of the materials featured in this collection can be accessed for free and online at University of Washington’s Digital Collections. Material featured in this exhibit from the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle (MOHAI) can also be accessed through the Digital Collections site. To find additional photographs and ephemera from archival collections featured in this exhibit, use keyword searches or browse by collection name in Digital Collections.

Navigating This Exhibit

This exhibit is divided into several pages, similar to what would be a “case” in an in-person exhibit. The pages are written in chronological order– The Seattle Liberation Front, The Day After Protest, and the Trial– followed by a short reflection on the Seattle 7 and its relationship to the ongoing protests centered around racial justice today. Each page contains several sub-headings with more specific topical coverage. The three primary pages contain digital images of photographs and flyers from the late 1960s to early 1970s, and all digital images have alt text descriptions.

You can navigate to the pages in the exhibit through the menu bar at the top of every page, or by clicking through the exhibit with the navigation buttons at the bottom of each page.

References   [ + ]

1, 3, 4. Roger Lippman, and Joe Kelly. 2020. “We Are All the Conspiracy Corrections,” August 31, 2020.
2. “Court Order for Dismissal of Seattle 7 Indictment, March 22, 1973”.