The trial of the Catonsville Nine began on Monday, October 5, 1968, scarcely six weeks after police and protestors battled in the streets of Chicago during the Democratic National Convention.
Baltimore - the site of devastating race riots in the wake of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s April 1968 assassination - now faced another potentially explosive event.
Baltimore Defense Committee
The days leading up to the trial were tense. The Baltimore Defense Committee organized a calendar of events in support of the defendants, hoping to use the media attention to protest the war and to express disapproval of Governor Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon's vice-presidential running mate. Faculty and students from area colleges, including Goucher College, the University of Maryland, and Johns Hopkins University, joined the protest efforts.
The trial was to be held in downtown Baltimore in the main Post Office, which housed federal courts. A George Wallace presidential campaign rally, scheduled for the trial's opening day at the nearby Civic Center, added to the tension.
As the trial began, several hundred police in full riot gear surrounded the Post Office. The streets were jammed, the international press set to show the world not only the trial in the courtroom, but also the trial in the street.