The Seattle 7 embodied late 1960s counterculture—young, idealistic, active organizers against racism and the Vietnam War, and fond of long hair, rock’n’roll, sex, drugs, and parties. In January 1970 they founded the Seattle Liberation Front (SLF). Nationally, the FBI was practicing secret and illegal tactics such as wiretapping, warrantless break-ins, and the placing of informers and provocateurs to destroy organizations like the SLF. But in Seattle, it went a step further.
Months after a February 1970 protest at Seattle’s downtown federal building turned violent, seven SLF leaders were arrested. Michael Abeles, Jeff Dowd, Joe Kelly, Michael Lerner, Roger Lippman, Chip Marshall, and Susan Stern faced federal conspiracy and intent to riot indictments. During their chaotic trial in nearby Tacoma, they received a twelve-day crash course in the real American judicial system. Celebrated Spokane lawyer Carl Maxey and nationally known attorney Michael Tigar led the defense team; the U.S. prosecuting attorney was Stan Pitkin, a young and upcoming Nixon appointee. When Pitkin’s key witness faltered and the government’s case appeared doomed, the presiding judge issued a surprise ruling to end the trial and send the defendants to prison.
For this solidly researched oral history, the author conducted dozens of interviews with six defendants, their attorneys, FBI agents, journalists, jurors, the U.S. Marshal, and SLF members, supporters, and critics. She also accessed the trial transcript, appeals briefs and depositions, newspaper and magazine articles, pamphlets, and other ephemera of the times, as well as memoirs and books.
Kit Bakke strongly believes that the freedom to organize and protest are crucial to American democracy. Bakke herself was active in Students for a Democratic Society and later Weatherman, participating in antiwar and anti-capitalism actions around the country. Born and raised in Seattle, she returned to work as a pediatric oncology nurse. She currently works as an independent writer and consultant, and supports local philanthropic organizations focused on human services and education. Learn more about her at her website, kitbakke.com.
Listen to Kit Bakke’s interview on Author2Author.
Watch TVW’s recording of Kit Bakke’s University Bookstore appearance (with Seattle 7 defendant Roger Lippman).
Illustrations / notes / bibliography / index / 252 pages (2018)