A Proposal For Dealing With Donald Trump's Big Mouth
Getty Images

A Proposal For Dealing With Donald Trump's Big Mouth

What if we gave the former president the Bobby Seale treatment?

The reporting on the Trump “hush money trial,” including the warnings about Trump's behavior during jury selection and multiple violations of a gag order, brings to mind another trial of a public figure where the defendant broke the rules. Bobby Seale was the National Chairman of the Black Panther Party and was on trial along with other members of the Chicago Eight for inciting riots associated with the 1968 Democratic National Convention (DNC). What was true then is true now, “the whole world is watching.”

Donald Trump has repeatedly complained about the alleged bias of his current judge, Juan Merchan. His rulings thus far have sometimes gone for Trump and sometimes against him. Trump has already been warned about intimidating jurors and violating a gag order at least seven times. A separate hearing is to be held on gag order violations, with the worst expected outcome for Trump being a monetary fine.

Seale was the only Black defendant of the Chicago Eight. He had just gotten a mistrial in New Haven, CT, on a murder charge where he was alleged to have given the order to execute a supposed police informant in the local Black Panther chapter. Seale was in New Haven to give a speech at Yale University. He left town with no evidence that he had ever visited the local headquarters except for one informant, as opposed to several witnesses who said it had never happened. After the New Haven mistrial, his co-defendant, Ericka Huggins, was freed, with the judge declaring no retrial was possible. Seale was taken in handcuffs to Chicago to stand trial in the Chicago Eight case. In Seale’s case, the government, J. Edgar Hoover in particular, really was out to get him.

Seale hadn’t been in Chicago for any protest planning surrounding the DNC. He only attended an organizing committee meeting as a last-minute replacement for Eldridge Cleaver. When it came time for trial, Seale’s lawyer was to be hospitalized for gallbladder surgery and would be unavailable for six months. Attorney Charles Garry requested a six-month continuance but was denied despite the fact that several continuances for other defendants were granted on the same day.

Seale petitioned the court for the right to represent himself, but Judge Julius Hoffman appointed attorney William Kunstler, who had never met with Seale, to represent him. Seale refused Kuntsler’s representation, but Hoffman ignored Seale’s refusal. Seale considered himself without representation and often stood up and objected during the trial. Hoffman ordered Seale to be chained and gagged in court, which happened for multiple days in the trial. Eventually, Seale’s trial was severed from the Chicago Eight, leaving trials against the Chicago Seven and Bobby Seale.

Seale got several warnings before he was bound and gagged during his trial. The image of a Black man in chains while gagged couldn’t help but bring up images of enslavement, which may be what Judge Hoffman had in mind. The severed trial of Bobby Seale ended in a mistrial, but the judge found Seale guilty of sixteen counts of contempt and sentenced him to a total of four years. Seale spent two years in jail while appealing the contempt verdicts; those charges were ultimately dismissed.

Donald Trump has received multiple warnings, which he has mostly ignored. He continues to violate the gag order issued after he threatened court personnel, witnesses, and the judge’s daughter. He’s threatened a potential juror and will no doubt violate rulings again because he perceives it unlikely he’ll be dragged to a cell for his violations. I suggest he receive the Bobby Seale treatment and be bound and gagged while in the courtroom. Trump has absurdly compared himself to Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in a small jail cell. Time to school him on another Black revolutionary.

This post originally appeared on Medium and is edited and republished with author's permission. Read more of William Spivey's work on Medium. And if you dig his words, buy the man a coffee.