MR. KUNSTLER: Would you state your full name?
THE WITNESS: Jesse Louis Jackson.
MR. KUNSTLER: Mr. Jackson, what is your position?
THE WITNESS: I am a Christian minister employed by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
MR. KUNSTLER: Reverend Jackson, in what capacity are you employed by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference?
THE WITNESS: As director of its economic arm, Operation Breadbasket.
MR. KUNSTLER: Could you state for the jury what Operation Breadbasket is?
THE WITNESS: Operation Breadbasket is an economic movement that is designed to be the antidote to the racist domination of our black community by engaging in boycotts and consumer withdrawals from the companies that have an imperialistic relationship with our community. That is, the companies control the capital and blacks are merely reduced to consumers. So far, we've been able to get about five thousand jobs directly, perhaps ten thousand indirectly, but more importantly, we've been able to develop black institutions as a result of this movement.
MR. KUNSTLER: By the way, who is president of the Southern Christian Leadership movement?
THE WITNESS: Dr. Ralph Abernathy. . .
MR. KUNSTLER: Reverend Jackson, I call your attention to the third weed in August, 1968. Did you have an occasion to see Rennie Davis?
THE WITNESS: Yes. At my house here in Chicago.
MR. KUNSTLER: Did you have a conversation at that time with Mr. Davis?
THE WITNESS: Yes, we had three or four issues to discuss. One was the relationship between the assassination of Dr. King and some things that we wanted to happen during the Convention. Rennie really wanted to know what was on my mind about the Convention and I told him that the reason we had not pursued relentlessly through any legal process who killed Dr. King was, that we thought that what killed him was an atmosphere that had been created because the nation was so split over the war question, and somehow if the Democratic Convention really became consistent with democracy, perhaps something could come in that Convention that would indicate a real sorrow for his assassination as opposed to just a holiday.
Then Rennie told me he would like to try to go to Hanoi. He felt that if I went to Hanoi that I could talk with the prisoners that were to be released and that through this process we could make the negotiations in Paris more meaningful . . . .
I related to Rennie that the shoot to kill order had come out, and therefore we had heard rumblings that if blacks participated in a big demonstration, that we would be shot down. We had talked with some of the policemen, and we saw some shotgun shells that had overkill pellets in them, so some of us who were afraid that some of the younger blacks might get involved in riots had begun to hold some workshops on he South and West sides.
So Rennie told me that he saw the danger, but what kind of decision was I going to make? I told him we felt that if blacks marched downtown there would be a massacre, and it wasn't that we were afraid to go, but we still were hung up because we had some dissenting delegations among us from Mississippi and Georgia. We wanted to support them.
So Rennie said that perhaps the only thing that could do, rather than my being caught in so much ambiguity, was that he was trying to get a legal permit through the city, and asked me what was my advice in case he didn't get the legal permit. I told him that I hoped he got the legal permit, but even if he didn't that it would be consistent with Dr. King's teaching that we then got a moral permit. Rather than getting permission from the city, we'd have to get a commission from our consciences and just have an extralegal demonstration, that probably blacks should participate, that if blacks got whipped nobody would pay attention, it would just be history. But if whites got whipped, it would make good news: that is, it would make the newspapers.
Rennie told me he didn't understand what I was saying. I told him that I thought long haired whites was the new style nigger, and if he didn't think they would get whipped, to try it.
We finally decided that we would explain to our people what the demonstration was about, that we would hope the permits would come through, that Dr. Abernathy was going to come back to the black community with the buggy and the mules. But we were afraid of the tremendous police build up in our community, so we felt too helpless to just put our heads in a meat grinder, and therefore I would spend my time working in the black community telling blacks not to get involved, and I would hope that those who were involved would appreciate that we were with them, but we just couldn't be there physically because chaos was anticipated as opposed to peace.
This was the substance of that conversation as I recall it.
MR. KUNSTLER: I have no further questions.
THE COURT: Is there any cross-examination of this witness?
MR. FORAN: Reverend Jackson, did you call Mr. Davis or did Mr. Davis call you?
THE WITNESS: He called me, then I called him back.
MR. FORAN: That is all.
THE COURT: You may go, thank you.
The marshals will exclude everyone that they
have seen applaud.
MR. KUNSTLER: Your Honor, with the testimony of Reverend Jackson, the defense has concluded its presentation of live witnesses. We do have a film that we hope to qualify. We think we will be able to procure the cameraman. We also have a few documents that we are still working on which we may present to the Court.
THE COURT: I would give consideration to recessing until Monday, provided counsel for the defense will rest or will go forward with the remainder of whatever evidence it has.
MR. SCHULTZ: Your Honor, if that evidence is going to be in addition to what Mr. Kunstler stated--- that is, that they not over the weekend decide on another dozen or thirty witnesses to start up again.
THE COURT: Mr. Kunstler represented that was the last
witness, as he put it.
It that is the way you want to leave it, with the condition that you must rest Monday, if you don't have anything further, I am perfectly willing to put this case over to Monday morning.
MR. KUNSTLER: That is agreeable, you Honor.
THE COURT: The jury may now be excused until Monday
morning at ten o'clock and I will ask counsel and the parties to remain
. . . .
February 2, 1970
MR. KUNSTLER: I am going to go back on my representation anyway with one more witness, your Honor. We had originally contacted Dr. Ralph Abernathy to be a witness for the defense in this case. Dr. Abernathy was then out of the country and has just returned and is willing to appear as a witness for the defense. He is arriving at this moment at O'Hare Airport.
We think his testimony is crucial inasmuch as the Government has raised the issue of the mule train and I think your Honor may recall the testimony of Superintendent Rockford where the Superintendent tried to give the that the mule train was afraid of the demonstrators and therefore the police obligingly led it through the line.
Also Mr. Abernathy made a speech at Grant Park directly related to the events of the night of Wednesday, August 28. I did not know that he would be back in the country when I spoke to your Honor on Friday Afternoon. His testimony is not long and it would be the last witness we would offer subject only to those records
THE COURT: I certainly am not going to wait
Who will speak for the Government?
MR. SCHULTZ: I will, your Honor.
The Government is ready to start its case this morning.
We are ready to go and would like to proceed with the trial. We would like to put on our first witness this morning.
THE COURT: There have been several witnesses called here during this trial whose testimony the Court ruled could not even be presented to the jury--- singers, performers, and former office holders, I think in the light of the representations made by you unequivocally, sir, with no reference to Dr. Abernathy, I will deny your motion that we hold---
MR. KUNSTLER: Your Honor, I think what you have
just said is about the most outrageous statement I have ever heard from
a bench, and I am going to say my piece right now if you wish to.
You violated every principle of fair play when you excluded Ramsey Clark from that witness stand. The New York Times, among others, has called it the ultimate outrage in American justice.
VOICES: Right on.
MR. KUNSTLER: I am outraged to be in this court before you. Now because I made a statement on Friday that I had only a cameraman, and I discovered on on Saturday that Ralph Abernathy, who is the chairman of the Mobilization is in town, and he can be here, I am trembling because I am so outraged. I haven't been able to get this out before, and I am saying it now, and then you can put me in jail if you want to. You can do anything you want with me, because I feed disgraced to be here.
To say to us on a technicality of my representation that we can't put Ralph Abernathy on the stand. He is the cochairman of the Mobe. He has relevant testimony. I know that doesn't mean much in this court when the Attorney General of the United States walked out of here with his lips so tight he could hardly breath, and if you could see the expression on his face, you would know, and his wife informed me that he never felt such anger at the United States Government as at not being able to testify on that stand.
I have sat here for four and a half months and watched the objections denied and sustained by your Honor, and I know that this is not a fair trial. I know it in my heart. If I have to lose my license to practice law and if I have to go to jail, I can't think of a better cause to go to jail for and to lose my license for---
A VOICE: Right on.
MR. KUNSTLER: ---than to tell your Honor that you are doing a disservice to the law in saying that we can't have Ralph Abernathy on the stand. You are saying truth will not out because of the technicality of a lawyer's representation. If that is what their liberty depends upon, your Honor, saying I represented to you that I had a cameraman that was our only witness, then I think there is nothing really more for me to say.
THE COURT: There is not much more that you could say, Mr. Kunstler.
MR. KUNSTLER: I am going to turn back to my seat with the realization that everything I have learned throughout my life has come to naught, that there is no meaning in this court, and there is no law in this court---
VOICES: Right on.
MR. KUNSTLER: ---and these men are going to jail by virtue of a legal lynching---
VOICES: Right on.
MR. KUNSTLER: And that your Honor is wholly responsible for that, and if this is what your career is going to end on, if this is what your pride is going to be built on, I can only say to your Honor, "Good luck to you."
VOICES: Right on. Right on.
THE COURT: Out with those applauders.
MR. DAVIS: I applauded to, your Honor. Throw me out.
THE COURT: Unfortunately, you have to remain, Mr. Davis, but we note that you applauded. You say you applauded.
MR. SCHULTZ: Your Honor, may we proceed with this trial?
THE COURT: Yes. But they must---we must have the defendants rest here when they have no more evidence.
MR. KUNSTLER: Your honor, we are not resting. We are never going to rest, your honor is going to do the resting for us because we have a witness who is available and ready to testify.
THE COURT: I will do the resting for you.
MR. KUNSTLER: You will have to do it for us, your Honor. We are not resting.
THE COURT: Mr. Clerk, let the record show that the defendants have in effect rested.
MR. SCHULTZ: Your Honor, may the defendants and their counsel then not make any reference in front of this jury that they wanted Dr. Abernathy to testify?
MR. KUNSTLER: No, no.
THE COURT: I order you not to make such a statement.
MR. KUNSTLER: We are not going to abide by any such comment as that. Dr. Ralph Abernathy is going to come into the courtroom, and I am going to repeat my motion before the jury.
THE COURT: I order you not to.
MR. KUNSTLER: Then you will have to send me to jail, I am sorry. We have a right to state our objection to resting before the jury.
THE COURT: Don't do it.
MR. KUNSTLER: Your Honor, what is an honest man to do when your Honor has done what he has done? What am I to do? Am I to stand here and say, "Yes, yes, yes."
THE COURT: I will ask you to sit down. I have heard enough from you along that line this morning, sir. I have never as a lawyer or a judge heard such remarks in a courtroom made by a lawyer.
MR. KUNSTLER: Your Honor, no one has heard of such conduct as is going on in this courtroom from the bench. This is the ultimate outrage. And I didn't say that, the editorial writers of the New York Times said that.
MR. SCHULTZ: May we proceed, your Honor?
THE COURT: Yes. I have ordered the jury brought in.
CHICAGO 7 TRIAL HOMEPAGE