By Lee Weiner
In March 1969, eight young men were indicted by the federal government for conspiracy to incite a riot. Some of them barely knew one another, having come together briefly to protest the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the war in Vietnam. First dubbed the “Conspiracy 8” and later the “Chicago 7,” the group included firebrands like Abbie Hoffman and Bobby Seale, but also a little-known community activist and social worker named Lee Weiner, who was just as surprised as the rest of the country when his name was called.
The ensuing trial of the Chicago 7 was a media sensation, and it changed Weiner’s life forever. But as he recalls in his memoir, the trial of the Chicago 7 was part of a long tradition of American radicalism that had shaped him from an early age and remain directly relevant to today's efforts to change America for the better. From Weiner’s Jewish family's leftist political roots to wild anti-war demonstrations on the streets and high-profile political appointments, Conspiracy to Riot shows how commitment to your ideals can change your destiny—for better and for worse.
Lee Weiner was born and raised on Chicago’s South Side. His activist life began with free-speech demonstrations at the University of Illinois in 1960, included community organizing in desperately poor neighborhoods in Chicago, and led to his indictment in the notorious trial of the Chicago 7 in 1969. His later political work included direct response fundraising for members of Congress and national non-profit organizations. Along the way, he collected a couple of master’s degrees and a PhD in sociology. He now lives in Florida.
Praise for Conspiracy to Riot:
"A book that should be shelved alongside Mark Rudd's Underground and Pat Thomas's Did It! Weiner closes with a stirring paean to activism. ... A welcome addition to the library of the countercultural 1960s left."—Kirkus Reviews
“A new memoir by Lee Weiner — the member of the Chicago Seven that was actually from the city — gives fresh insight into how the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests and trial really went down.”—Chicago Magazine
"The vigor and solidarity involved are all feelings that make the work infectious—and keep it ongoing. Conspiracy to Riot chronicles the moments from Lee Weiner’s life that forged him as someone willing to jump atop cars with a bullhorn, be a helping hand for families in Woodlawn and Cabrini-Green, fend off police officers to de-arrest comrades, and inspire a generation of movement organizers to continue fighting for a more equitable America. The stories in this memoir could serve as a mirror for some, and a starting point for others."—Malik Jackson, South Side Weekly
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