Free John Sinclair


Free John Sinclair


New Left


Founder of the Black Panther counterpart, the White Panther Party, John Sinclair was arrested in 1969 for drug possession. Labelled a political prisoner by the New Left, Sinclair’s case inspired landmark litigation, specifically the 1972 Supreme Court ruling, U.S. vs. U.S. District Court, which stated that law enforcement officials were required to issue a warrant prior to conducting investigations on electronic media.

This particular button promotes the "Free John Sinclair Rally" at the Grand Ballroom in Detroit, Michigan, on January 24, 1970, a date proclaimed ‘International Free John Sinclair Day’ by The Fifth Estate and The Seed. The rally featured 24 acts, including MC5, The Stooges, Commander Cody, Amboy Dukes, Bob Seger. Speakers included Abbie Hoffman and attorney Ken Cockrell.

The following year, an even bigger "John Sinclair Freedom Rally" was held at the University of Michigan's Chrisler Arena on December 10, 1971, to honor of John Sinclair and to encourage an end the state ban on marijuana. John Lennon & Yoko Ono headlined this event, which also featured Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Rubin, Bob Seger, Phil Ochs, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, poet Ed Sanders, Black Panther Party chairman Bobby Seale, Chicago Seven defendant Rennie Davis, radical priest Father James Groppi, and jazz legend Archie Shepp. Sinclair was released from jail shortly after the 1971 event.


Free John Sinclair


Roz Payne


Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


ca. 1970




Physical Object



Free John Sinclair, “Free John Sinclair,” Roz Payne Sixties Archive, accessed June 18, 2024,

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