On a Scandinavian speaking tour the following spring, a reporter told him he'd been indicted for crossing state lines with the intent to riot.
"I've been indicted? Me? What are you talking about?" Seale said.
As the trial of the Chicago Eight began in the fall of 1969, Seale's lawyer became ill and Seale loudly insisted he had a constitutional right to represent himself.
The proceedings became increasingly contentious, with Judge Julius Hoffman insisting that Seale sit down and be silent. Seale refused, railing that his rights were being denied, and calling Hoffman a racist, a fascist and a pig. At one point, he criticized the judge for displaying pictures of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson behind his bench, saying they had been slave owners. Hoffman, aghast, said he never thought he would hear "the father of our country" denounced in federal court.
After Seale refused to be silent, Hoffman had him gagged and chained to his chair. Within days, Hoffman declared a mistrial and ordered that Seale be separated from the rest and tried alone. The following year, he was convicted of 16 counts of contempt of court and sentenced to four years in prison. He spent two years in jail while the case was appealed. In 1972, the contempt charges were suspended and he was released.
He has no regrets about what transpired in the courtroom. "I'd cuss him out again," he said.
Returning to Oakland after he left prison, he found the Black Panthers in disarray, with many of the members killed in confrontations with the police and dozens in prison. He ran for mayor of Oakland in 1973, losing in a runoff. The next year, he left the Panthers, citing combat weariness.
In the 1980s he moved to Philadelphia, where he worked in a nonprofit jobs program, and then as a community liaison for the Department of African American Studies at Temple University. He moved back to Oakland about seven years ago.