To the Editors:
I write to you about a matter of great urgency—a matter which the general press has been almost totally silent about.
Thirteen men and women, arrested by the Chicago police during the Democratic Convention, are now being tried in Chicago on a charge of disorderly conduct. Five of them were official convention delegates, including the columnist Murray Kempton, the clergyman Richard Neuhaus, and the lawyer Peter Weiss. The thirteen have been charged with disorderly conduct for attempting to walk peacefully to the Chicago Amphitheatre where the Convention was in progress.
The trial, which began February 27, is expected to last at least another week, very likely longer. Funds have run out. The costs that must be met include a transcript of the court proceedings amounting to $500.00 a day, travel expenses of witnesses, and modest maintenance, transportation, and legal fees. Several of the defendants are already in critical financial straits.
The issue at stake is whether or not the rights of people to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech can be curtailed by the arbitrary use of power.
I urge you to send contributions immediately to: Committee for Chicago Political Defendants, David Boies, Secretary, One Chase Manhattan Plaza, New York, N.Y.
New York City
April 10, 1969