from 1999-10-30 "MIM Theory" #11, published by "Maoist Internationalist Movement"
Black Panther Party (BPP) of the 1960s is remembered clearly by both
its friends and its enemies. Both remember it as an organization that
popularized the ideas of socialism and armed revolution in North
America, particularly among Black people. Its friends also remember it
for the challenges it posed to police brutality, hunger, disease,
ignorance, and the oppression of Black people generally.(1) This article
is not about these successes, however. Nor will it cover the exact
course of either the West Coast BPP's degeneration - from its original
revolutionary positions to its later reformist positions - or the
ultraleft turn of the East Coast BPP (which became the Black Liberation
Army). Instead, after providing some background, it will focus on the
state repression of the Southern California chapter of the BPP. The
reader should remember that the repression that the BPP faced in
Southern California was only a fraction of the repression the entire
Party faced.(2) The fact is that the U.S. government engaged in deceit,
sabotage, and murder to crush and silence its political opponents. This
is crucial to understand, because it strikes at the heart of the U.S.
government's myths about itself regarding free speech, human rights,
liberty and justice.
The BPP's fall from its position as "the
greatest threat to the internal security of the country" preceded its
formal dissolution in the early 1980s.(3) It is perhaps impossible to
pinpoint an exact moment at which the BPP abandoned its earlier
positions, but clearly this degeneration took place. For instance, BPP
founder and leader Huey Newton had once been clear in condemning liberal
"I don't believe that under the present system,
under capitalism, that they will be able to solve these problems [of
housing, unemployment, self-determination, justice, and imperialism]. I
don't think Black people should be fooled by their come-ons, because
everyone who gets in office promises the same thing. They promise full
employment and decent housing; the Great Society, the New Frontier. All
of these names, but no real benefits. Black people are tired of being
deceived and duped. The people must have full control of the means of
But by November 1974, Jerry Brown was elected
governor of California with the help of a BPP endorsement.(5) Newton's
former comrade, Geronimo Pratt, languished in a California jail cell on
false charges throughout Brown's tenure as governor.(6) Nonetheless, in
1976, the BPP, under Elaine Brown's acting leadership, supported Jerry
Brown for President.(7) Whereas BPP Chairperson Bobby Seale had been
brought to trial - bound and gagged for his participation in the
demonstrations against the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in
1968, in 1976 - Elaine Brown served as a delegate to the Democratic
National Convention.(8) Former Panthers Kit Kim Holder and Safiya
Bukhari suggest that the 1970-1971 split of the BPP into an Oakland
faction under Newton's leadership and a New York faction under Eldridge
Cleaver's initial leadership marked the degeneration of the BPP. Says
Holder, "both factions began to overemphasize either the mass
organizational or military aspect of the struggle."(9) While not the
only factor, state repression was key in bringing about this destruction
of the BPP.
Origins and Infiltrators -
Black Panther Party was formed in Oakland, Cal. in October 1966 by Huey
Newton and Bobby Seale, principally Huey Newton. Newton and his party
had already made names for themselves by the time Newton was arrested on
Oct. 28, 1967, for allegedly killing a police officer in self-defense.
In response to this arrest, Earl Anthony of the BPP Central Committee
moved to Los Angeles in November 1967 to raise support for the Huey P.
Newton Legal Defense Fund.(10) This marked the start of Panther activity
in Southern California. It marked the start of covert anti-Panther
activity in Southern California as well. By his account, Anthony had
agreed four months prior to become "an FBI informant-agent-provocateur
inside the Black Panther Party."(11)
Furthermore, 1967 was also
when the FBI's Richard Wallace Held "was assigned to the Bureau's Los
Angeles field office, as a specialist in 'black extremist' matters and
head of the local Cointelpro section."(12) Cointelpro, FBI short for
"counterintelligence program," was first launched in 1956 against the
Communist Party, USA (CPUSA). The Cointelpro against Black nationalists
began in 1967, with the BPP as its main target.(13) On Aug. 25, 1967,
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote an internal memorandum to all FBI
offices which explained: "The purpose of this new counterintelligence
endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise
neutralize the activities of black nationalist hate-type organizations
and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership, and
supporters."(14) Cointelpro first became publicly known on March 8,
1971, when a group called the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI
broke into the FBI's Media, Penn. office and removed thousands of pages
of classified files.(15) Exposed, the state officially discontinued
Cointelpro. In reality, however, the code name changed, but the
operations continued.(16) For instance, Richard Held became the special
agent in charge of the San Francisco office, where he may have been
responsible for operations against the radical environmentalist group
Earth First!, including a failed assassination attempt on and subsequent
arrest of two Earth First! activists on May 24, 1990.(17)
Southern California chapter of the BPP was formed in 1968 by Alprentice
"Bunchy" Carter. Carter was the former head of the 5,000-strong Slauson
gang and its 'hardcore,' the Slauson Renegades, and was therefore known
as "the Mayor of the Ghetto." While spending f our years in Soledad
prison for armed robbery, he became a Muslim and a follower of Malcolm
X. In 1967, Carter met BPP Minister of Defense Huey Newton and became a
Panther on the spot. Carter formed and headed the Southern California
chapter, taking position of Deputy Minister of Defense, announced in
early 1968. (18)
Among the best-known members of the Southern
California chapter besides Carter were Elaine Brown, Raymond "Masai"
Hewitt, Vietnam veteran Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, Ericka Huggins, Angela
Davis, and Captain (later Chairperson) John Huggins. Huggins, who had
served in Vietnam, became the number-two-ranking member of the chapter.
Davis joined briefly before being recruited away by the CPUSA. (19) In
accordance with party-wide requirements, chapter members were required
to attend political education classes regularly, read certain books
including Marx, Ché, and Quotations from Chairman Mao (the "Red Book"),
memorize and follow the rules of discipline, memorize the BPP program
and platform, learn to use firearms (training was conducted in the
Mojave desert), and learn to perform emergency medical techniques.(20)
By April 1968, the Southern California chapter gained 50-100 new members
each week, though not all stayed.(21)
Attacks on the party -
the chapter grew, so did the attacks against it. These initially took
the form of random raids of party offices and homes and random arrests
of Party members. On April 5, 1968, a day after Martin Luther King Jr.'s
assassination, San Diego police crashed down the door of Ken Denman, a
Peace and Freedom Party leader and Panther organizer in San Diego -
without a warrant.(22) On Aug. 5, 1968, police killed BPP Captains
Little Tommy Lewis, Steve Bartholomew, and Robert Lawrence at Adams
Boulevard and Montclair in Watts.(23) On Jan. 1, 1969, Captain Franco
(Frank Diggs), the reputed leader of the BPP's local underground
apparatus, was shot dead in an alley in Long Beach.(24) In 1969, the Los
Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) vice squad was transformed into its
"metro squad." The metro squad was the LAPD's Panther unit, an "urban
counterinsurgency task force."(25) In April 1969, hundreds of Panthers
were meeting on the second floor of the BPP's Southern California
chapter's headquarters at 4115 S. Central Avenue in Los Angeles.
Hundreds of LAPD officers from the Newton Street Division surrounded the
building. The chapter's leader at the time, Geronimo Pratt, turned off
the lights and armed and organized the Panthers to defend themselves.
Panthers Joan Kelley and Elaine Brown contacted the news media,
ultimately prompting the LAPD to withdraw.(26) On May 1, 1969, the LAPD
raided the L.A. BPP office. Nine Panthers were arrested in the raid, and
two other L.A. Panthers were arrested the same day.(27) During a
two-week period around this time, the LAPD made 56 arrests of 42
Panthers. (28) On June 16, 1969, the San Diego Police Department raided
the San Diego Panthers' office at 2608 Imperial Avenue. (29)
Sept. 8, 1969, armed police raided the Watts breakfast program.(30) This
raid accorded with an early 1969 FBI directive to "eradicate [the
BPP's] serve the people programs."(31) On May 15, 1969, in an internal
memo, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote: "The Breakfast for Children
Program represents the best and most influential activity going for the
BPP and, as such, is potentially the greatest threat to efforts by
authorities to neutralize the BPP and destroy what it stands for."(32)
From September to December of 1969, Southern California's Panthers were
arrested on a daily basis, with most of the charges dropped within a
week.(33) On Oct. 10, 1969 the LAPD had a shoot-out with some Panthers.
Panther Bruce Richards was wounded and charged with attempted murder,
and Panther Walter Toure Poke was killed.(34) On October 18, the L.A.
BPP office was raided yet again.(35) On November 22, the San Diego BPP
office was raided. All seven Panthers present were arrested. (36)
dramatically, on December 8, the LAPD deployed its new SWAT (Special
Weapons and Tactics, a militarized police unit) teams, a warrant, a
battering ram, helicopters, a tank, trucks, dynamite, and 400 police
officers to raid three L.A. BPP facilities including the Central Ave.
headquarters.(37) The raid bore much similarity to the raid against the
Chicago BPP led four days prior by the FBI and Chicago police.(38) For
instance, the government's plan called for the police to focus gunfire
at chapter leader Geronimo Pratt's bed; however, Pratt was sleeping on
the floor at the time.(39) But whereas the Chicago raid ended with
Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark murdered, the L.A. Panthers, under
Geronimo Pratt's leadership, stood their ground. Only after exchanging
fire with the police for five hours did the Panthers surrender,
alive.(40) Participant Melvin Cotton Smith, security officer for the
L.A. branch, was later identified by former government agent Louis
Tackwood as a police informant.(41) Louis Tackwood, too, was a
government infiltrator of the Southern California BPP.(42) Cotton
provided the LAPD and FBI with detailed blueprints of party facilities
before the raid. (43) The LAPD's warrant was obtained on the basis of
false information provided by the FBI regarding stolen military weapons.
The day after the raid, Angela Davis and others set up a vigil outside
BPP's Southern California headquarters, during which LAPD attacked,
forcing people to flee in all directions.(44)
The attacks on the
rank and file continued. On Nov. 4, 1970, the LAPD raided the L.A.
BPP's child care center, rounded up children, and held guns on them
while officers beat up an adult Panther. Police claimed to be responding
to a landlord complaint of children in the building.(45)
rank and file of the BPP were not the only targets of Cointelpro-BPP.
Special attention was given to the leadership. In Southern California,
the FBI success in "neutralizing" the BPP was largely attributable to
its success in neutralizing two layers of local leadership: first Bunchy
Carter and John Huggins, who were killed, then Geronimo Pratt, who
remains in jail today on bogus charges.
Hoover's agenda -
late 1968, Hoover openly announced that the BPP was, in his opinion,
"the greatest threat to the internal security of the country."(46)
Cointelpro was massively expanded. In November 1968, Hoover ordered FBI
offices "to exploit all avenues of creating dissension within the ranks
of the BPP" and encouraged agents to "submit imaginative and
hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling the BPP."
In this context, the Los Angeles office of the FBI set the
stage for the Jan. 17, 1969, "neutralization" by murder of the L.A.
BPP's top two leaders, Bunchy Carter and John Huggins at UCLA's Campbell
Hall. Because local Cointelpro head Richard W. Held took credit for the
killings, there is no question that the FBI was responsible. Carter and
Huggins' apparent killer was Claude "Chuchessa" Hubert, although George
and Larry Stiner were arrested for the crime. All three were members of
the cultural nationalist US organization led by Ron "Maulana" Karenga.
It is unclear whether Hubert, the Stiners, and Karenga were knowing
agents of FBI-Cointelpro, accidental agents, or some combination of the
Congressional investigators of Cointelpro put forward the
most conservative plausible argument. Huey Newton summed up this
argument: "The impression given from official investigations is that the
FBI merely took advantage of an existing state of 'gang warfare'
between the two organizations. This was supposedly accomplished by the
sending of false death threats and derogatory cartoons in the name of
one organization to another."(48) It is true that local Cointelpro head
Richard W. Held "devised and released a series of cartoons and forged in
the names of the Panthers and a nationalist organization known as
United Slaves (US), in which the rival groups appeared to be viciously
and publicly ridiculing one another."(49) And there were genuine
differences between the two groups. The Panthers were Marxist-Leninist
revolutionaries, while US was cultural nationalist.(50) US was highly
patriarchal, while the Los Angeles Panthers were anti-sexist (though it
is true that other BPP chapters were more like US in this regard).(51)
Concretely, the two organizations competed for recruits. This rivalry
grew as the two organizations found themselves competing on the same
turf - UCLA.
In September 1968, Bunchy Carter, John Huggins,
Geronimo Pratt and Elaine Brown all registered as students in UCLA's
High Potential Program.(52) Huggins seized the opportunity to become a
student organizer.(53) On Nov. 25, 1968, J. Edgar Hoover told 14 FBI
field offices that "an aura of gang warfare with attendant threats of
murder and reprisals" existed between the BPP and the US organization
and said they should exploit the situation.(54)
UCLA killings -
this time, US leader Ron Karenga had suggested Dr. Charles Thomas as
head of a proposed Black Studies program at UCLA. UCLA Chancellor
Charles Young authorized funding for Karenga's program. The rank and
file of the Black Student Union (BSU) were upset at having been
uninvolved in the decision-making process. They called a meeting.
Fearing the US organization, the BSU asked the BPP to act as security
for the meeting. The BPP refused to take sides, but agreed to back up
the BSU's majority decision regarding the program. On January 15, the
BSU voted against Karenga's program.(55) At a follow-up meeting two days
later, Carter and Huggins were shot and killed. (56)
Cointelpro head Richard] Held quickly took 'credit' for the killings [of
Carter and Huggins], and recommended sending more cartoons. This was
duly approved and resulted in the wounding of several more Panthers and
the death of yet another, Sylvester Bell. In the aftermath, Held again
patted himself on the back for such 'success' via internal
In 1969, Panther Ronald Freeman was shot by US
organization members while selling BPP newspapers.(58) BPP member John
Savage was killed by US members in San Diego on May 23. The BPP claimed
that Savage had witnessed the Carter and Huggins murders and was killed
to prevent him from testifying at the US members' trial.(59) In all,
four Panthers were shot and one wounded by US members in 1969.(60)
theory outlined above suggests that genuine rivalries between two
genuine organizations were exacerbated by the FBI to create war between
them. On the other end of the spectrum of plausible theories, some
suggest that the US organization was not a genuine part of the Black
power movement at all, but was in fact an anti-Panther death squad
financed by the FBI. Elaine Brown suggests that she believes this was
the case, at least after the Campbell Hall killings.(61) Former FBI
infiltrator and agent-provocateur Earl Anthony alleges that he knows
this to be true:
"When I met with [FBI Agents Robert] O'Connor
and [Ron] Kizenski at our designated time [Aug. 6, 1968],...[t]hey said
they were tired of the 'Panther shit,' and the FBI had worked out a deal
with Karenga where they would supply US with weapons and a master plan
to destroy the LA Black Panther Party; and they were hoping to get
something like that going in New York."(62)
Anthony's words have
proven in the past to be untrustworthy, so this allegation is not worth
very much. It is quite possible that he is continuing to spread
slanderous disinformation on behalf of the FBI.
What gives some
credence, though not proof, to the theory held by Brown and Anthony is
that while the more conservative theory holds that the FBI was using
each group against the other, the repression faced by the BPP was much
more severe than that faced by the US organization. The pattern of
killings described above is a case in point. Another is that the FBI
opened a conspiracy investigation for Panther Geronimo Pratt for a bank
robbery that the FBI knew had been committed by US members.(63)
example of police favoritism towards US is the initial police response
to the killings of Carter and Huggins, which was not to go after the US
organization or any other suspects in the murder, but instead to deploy
over 150 police officers to raid a Panther apartment and arrest 75
Panthers, including the remaining Panther leadership, on charges of
intending to murder US members in retaliation!(64) Later, the police
arrested US's Stiner brothers, Larry and George. The Stiners were given
life terms and sent to San Quentin, but, adding to suspicions that US
members were deliberately given light treatment, they "walked away from a
minimum security area on March 30, 1974."(65) Larry Stiner turned
himself in on Feb. 5, 1994, while George Stiner remained a fugitive.(66)
Another theory holds that,
whatever the role of the US organization as a whole, those who shot
Carter and Huggins were knowing FBI agents. This theory, put forward by
Huey Newton, relies on the testimony of a Black former FBI informant
named D'Arthard Perry, also known as Ed Riggs and, according to him, the
FBI code name "Othello."(67) Perry claims he reported directly to L.A.
FBI agents Brandon Cleary, Will Heaton, and Michael Quinn.(68) Perry's
testimony is more plausible than Anthony's (although it is possible that
both are true), and is worth quoting at length:
"Shortly after my arrival in the parking lot I heard shots from the direction of Campbell Hall.
a few minutes I observed George Stiner, Larry Stiner, and Claude Hubert
also known as Chuchessa, jump into a 1967 or 1968 light tan or white,
four-door Chevrolet driven by Brandon Cleary of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation. I saw this car drive away from the parking lot of
Campbell Hall. I left the campus on foot and immediately went to FBI
headquarters by bus. I inquired as to the whereabouts of Brandon Cleary
at this time, and, was told he was not available. I am informed and
believe that the four-door Chevrolet described above was the property of
a man called 'Jomo,' a known member of the US organization, now
"I recognized George Stiner, Larry Stiner, and Claude
Hubert from seeing them prior to this date on the 14th floor of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation building on several occasions in the
company of Brandon Cleary, the man I had seen drive them away from the
Campbell Hall area.
"I had been told to give a report within
twenty-four hours of the incident to my supervising agent, Will Heaton,
on the 14th floor of the Wilshire Blvd. Federal Investigation building.
few hours later, I went to the building and met with my supervising
agent, Will Heaton. While in his company, I observed George Stiner,
Larry Stiner, and Claude Hubert in the company of Brandon Cleary on the
14th floor of the Federal Bureau of Investigation building. I asked
Cleary, 'what was happening' and was told that there had been a 'fuck
up' - no one was to be killed by 'our' people. I also learned that the
car that had been driven by Cleary was taken from the place Jomo
Shambulia had parked it and returned to the same parking space after the
incident. I also learned that it was Claude Hubert who fired the shot
that killed John Jerome Huggins and the same Claude Hubert who fired the
shot that killed Alprentice 'Bunchy' Carter and not George or Larry
"Through information and belief, I have knowledge that
George Stiner and Larry Stiner were Intelligence Gatherers for the
Federal Bureau of Investigation and were working for Brandon Cleary and
others when John Jerome Huggins and Alprentice 'Bunchy' Carter were
murdered. I am informed and believe that Claude Hubert was on January
17, 1969 at the time he reportedly executed John Jerome Huggins and
Alprentice 'Bunchy' Carter, an agent in the service of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, Los Angeles office. I am further informed that
this same Claude Hubert was subsequently transferred to an east coast
office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, specifically New York,
White former FBI agent M. Wesley Swearingen
relates a similar account: "Soon after I had been assigned to the Los
Angeles racial squad, I was told by a fellow agent that another agent on
the squad had arranged for [his] informers in the United Slaves to
assassinate Alprentice Carter and John Huggins. Following [the agent's]
instructions, informants George Stiner and Larry Stiner shot them to
death on the UCLA campus on January 17, 1969.
"I later reviewed
the Los Angeles files and verified that the Stiner brothers were FBI
informants. I know that D'arthard Perry was an FBI informant and that he
is telling the truth about the FBI."(70)
Again, while the
details are disputed, the basic fact is not. Regardless of how direct or
indirect the FBI's role was in the murders of Carter and Huggins,
clearly at the very least the FBI encouraged the hostilities that
culminated in the murders, then claimed credit after the murders took
Target: Geronimo Pratt -
these murders, Carter's former bodyguard, Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, rose
to fill the local leadership vacuum, and became the next local
Cointelpro target for "neutralization."(71) As noted, LAPD officers
fired at Pratt's bed during the December 1969 FBI-planned raid on L.A.
Panther headquarters.(72) The FBI also took actions to isolate Pratt
from the rest of the Party, leaving him vulnerable to state attack.(73)
In September 1970, the LAPD's Criminal Conspiracy Section (CCS) was
working to indict Pratt on false murder charges, although "according to
both [former informants] Tackwood and Cotton Smith, there had been
considerable controversy in CCS and the FBI over exactly what murder to
use in preparing a case against Pratt."(74)
They arrested Pratt
on Dec. 4, 1970.(75) He stood trial in the spring of 1972 at Los Angeles
Superior Court on charges of murdering Caroline Olsen, a white
schoolteacher, on a Santa Monica tennis court on Dec. 18, 1968.(76) The
prosecution relied heavily on the testimony of LAPD and FBI informant
Julius Carl "Julio" Butler, who at the trial denied being an
informant.(77) Butler to this day denies that he was ever an informant,
no doubt in part because such an admission would jeopardize his position
as chairman of the Board of Trustees of Los Angeles' oldest and most
prominent Black church, the First African Methodist Episcopal Church
(First A.M.E.).(78) Pratt argued, and maintains today, that he was at a
BPP meeting in Oakland, 400 miles away from Santa Monica, on the evening
of the murder.(79) The FBI's success in isolating Pratt from the BPP
prevented Party members, except for Kathleen Cleaver, from testifying on
his behalf and corroborating his alibi.(80) Then-FBI agent Wesley
"My supervisor and several agents on the
racial squad knew that Pratt was innocent because the FBI had wiretap
logs proving that Pratt was in the San Francisco area several hours
before the shooting of Caroline Olsen and that he was there the day
after the murder.
"The Los Angeles office had a wiretap on
Panther headquarters in Los Angeles for a two-week period covering the
date of December 18, 1968. These wiretap logs could prove that Elmer
Pratt was in the San Francisco area on the day Caroline Olsen was shot
"I reviewed the Black Panther Party file that showed
that the Los Angeles FBI office had had a wiretap on the Panther office
at 4115 South Central Avenue from November 15, 1968 through 2:00 P.M.,
December 20, 1968. I had worked with wiretap information since 1952, and
this was the first time in my twenty-five-year career that I could not
find the Panther wiretap logs for the period November 15 through
December 20, 1968. Someone had destroyed those logs so there would be no
proof that Elmer Pratt had been in the San Francisco area on December
"A wiretap by the San Francisco FBI office placed
Pratt in the Bay area just hours before the shooting. An illegal wiretap
in Oakland placed Pratt in Oakland the day after the murder. "This is a
total of three wiretaps known to the FBI with information that placed
Pratt in the San Francisco area before, during, and after the murder of
Caroline Olsen, and yet the FBI withheld this information from the court
and the jury." (81)
Pratt was convicted of first degree murder on July 28, 1972.(82)
present, Geronimo Pratt remains in prison after nearly two decades in
California, a state in which the average time served on a first degree
murder conviction is 4.5 years. During a 1988 parole hearing, Los
Angeles Assistant District Attorney Dianne Vianni went before the board
to explain why: Pratt should not be released, she stated, because 'he is
still a revolutionary man.'"(83)
Cointelpro-BPP was not limited
to attacks on BPP leaders or even members. Outside supporters, too,
were subject to "neutralization."
"Held also assumed a leading
role in destroying the Panthers' white supporters, and is known to have
written the false accusation that actress Jean Seberg, an outspoken
advocate and fundraiser for the BPP, had been sexually unfaithful to her
husband and was pregnant by 'a prominent Panther leader.' This bit of
poison pen prose found its way into print on May 19, 1970 in the
syndicated column of a 'cooperating journalist,' Carol Haber, and caused
predictable complications in Seberg's marriage. The actress, whom
Bureau profiles had already described as being 'mentally unstable,'
became very emotionally distraught at such disinformation, suffered a
spontaneous abortion, and subsequently attempted suicide on the
anniversary of this event each year. After several tries, she was
successful [in June 1970]. According to former agents, who were there,
Held was gleeful at the 'effectiveness' of the Seberg gambit."(84)
Learn our lessons -
those who seek to emulate the BPP, it is not enough to know that the
state smashed the BPP. To these activists, the important question is
what the BPP could have done differently to ensure its own survival.
Briefly, the internal problems of the BPP that led to its demise all
have to do with a failure to adequately prepare for state repression.
For instance, the short-term gains of being above-ground - having public
offices and having publicly known membership - do not look worthwhile
in hindsight, 40 martyrs later.(85) Flashing guns in front of news
cameras popularized the BPP and made a political point asserting the
right to self-defense, but it also made it easier for the FBI to paint
the BPP as a dangerous group that had to be crushed by any means. The
BPP could also have benefited from tighter discipline on questions of
study and theoretical work, and from a greater emphasis on the
importance of political theory. Finally, the BPP tolerated illegal drug
use in its ranks, and Huey Newton's cocaine use in particular hastened
the demise of his leadership.(86)
Repression, while not the only
aspect, was a key factor in the decline of both the Black Panther Party
and its Southern California chapter. Believers in the illusion that the
U.S. government supports free speech, freedom of assembly, human
rights, liberty, justice, and democracy - or that the government is
invincible - will tend to be complicit in America's crimes, often
without even knowing that the crimes exist or that they are criminal.
Thus, it is of the utmost importance to build public awareness of
domestic repression. Building public opinion against domestic repression
is a necessary prerequisite to its eradication.
On the BPP's Serve the People programs, see Elaine Brown, A Taste of
Power: A Black Woman's Story, Doubleday, New York, 1992, p. 16, and The
Black Panther: Black Community News Service newspaper, Berkeley, Spring
1991, pp. 20-21.
2. Ward Churchill and Jim Vander
Wall, Agents of Repression: The FBI's Secret Wars Against the Black
Panther Party and the American Indian Movement, South End Press: Boston,
1990, pp. 37-99.
3. The quote is one made publicly
by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover on 15 June 1969. See Reginald Major, A
Panther is a Black Cat, 1971, p. 300.
4. Philip S.
Foner, ed., The Black Panthers Speak, Da Capo Press: New York, 1995, p.
64. The remark was made while Newton was in jail (1967-1970).
5. Brown, op. cit., p. 360.
6. Churchill and Vander Wall, op. cit., pp. 77-94.
7. Brown, op. cit., p. 413.
8. Ibid., pp. 414-415.
Kit Kim Holder, dissertation: The History of the Black Panther Party
1966-1972: A Curriculum Tool for Afrikan Amerikan Studies, 1990, p. 62.
Amherst College Library, Amherst, Mass.
10. Brown, op. cit., p. 113.
Earl Anthony, Spitting in the Wind: The True Story Behind the Violent
Legacy of the Black Panther Party Malibu, Cal: Roundtable, 1990, p. 38.
12. Ward Churchill, Z Magazine, March 1989, p. 100.
Huey P. Newton, dissertation: War Against the Panthers: A Study of
Repression in America, University of California Santa Cruz, June 1980,
pp. 64, 65.
14. Brian Glick, War at Home: Covert
Action Against U.S. Activists and What We Can Do About It, South End
Press: Boston, 1989, p. 77.
15. Churchill and Vander Wall, op. cit., p. 39; Washington Post, 30 July 1971, p. 6.
16. Ward Churchill, Z Magazine, March 1989, p. 100; Churchill and Vander Wall, op. cit., pp. 179-381.
17. Leslie Hemstreet, Z Magazine, July 1990, pp. 19-26.
18. Brown, op. cit., pp. 118-124.
19. Ibid., pp. 131-132, 138, 142, 153, 291.
20. Ibid., p. 134.
21. Ibid., p. 137.
"An Introduction to the Black Panther Party," pamphlet, John Brown
Society, Berkeley. Edited, with new material, by the Radical Education
Project, Ann Arbor, Michigan, May 1969, p. 15.
23. Brown, op. cit., p. 151. Anthony, op. cit., p. 49.
24. Brown, op. cit., p. 155.
25. Ibid., p. 181.
26. Ibid., pp. 201-202.
27. Black Panther newspaper, 21 February 1970, p. 12.
28. Major, op. cit., p. 300.
29. Black Panther newspaper, 21 February 1970, p. 19.
30. Major, op. cit., p. 301.
31. Brown, op. cit., p. 181.
32. Newton, op. cit., pp. 108-109.
33. Holder, op. cit., p. 308.
34. Ibid., p. 235.
35. Major, op. cit., p. 302.
37. Brown, op. cit., pp. 204-205, 211.
38. Churchill and Vander Wall, op. cit., p. 84.
39. Holder, op. cit., p. 307.
40. Brown, op. cit., pp. 204-205, 211.
41. Holder, op. cit., pp. 52-53.
42. Ibid., p. 307.
44. Ibid., p. 306.
45. Ibid., p. 243.
46. Newton, op. cit., p. 14.
47. Holder, op. cit., p. 286.
48. Newton, op. cit., pp. 102-103.
49. Churchill, op. cit., p. 100.
50. See for example Foner, ed., op. cit., p. 50; Brown, op. cit., p. 142.
51. Brown, op. cit., pp. 109, 189-191.
52. Ibid., p. 153.
54. Rolling Stone, 9 September 1976, p. 47.
55. Brown, op. cit., pp. 160-164.
56. Ibid., pp. 165-167.
57. Churchill, op. cit., p. 100.
58. Brown, op. cit., p. 184.
59. Holder, op. cit., p. 231.
60. Rolling Stone, op. cit., p. 47.
61. Brown, op. cit., pp. 176-177.
62. Anthony, op. cit., pp. 50-51.
63. Churchill and Vander Wall, op. cit., pp. 81, 406-407.
64. Brown, op. cit., pp. 168-170.
65. Los Angeles Times, 5 February 1994, p. A25.
67. Newton, op. cit., p. 104.
69. Ibid., pp. 105-107.
70. M. Wesley Swearingen, FBI Secrets: An Agents' Expose, South End Press: Boston, 1995, pp. 82-83.
71. Churchill and Vander Wall, op. cit., pp. 77-94, esp. p. 79.
72. Ibid., p. 84.
73. Ibid., pp. 85-87.
74. Ibid., p. 87.
76. Ibid., p. 88.
77. Swearingen, op. cit., pp. 85-86.
78. "Past Haunts Ex-Panther in New Life," Los Angeles Times, 24 May 1994, p. 1.
79. Churchill and Vander Wall, op. cit., p. 88.
81. Swearingen, op. cit., pp. 86-87.
82. Churchill and Vander Wall, op. cit., p. 90.
83. Ward Churchill, Z Magazine, June 1990, p. 90.
84. Ward Churchill, Z Magazine, March 1989, p. 100.
In part because of the FBI-promoted factionalization of the BPP, and in
part because it is not always clear who was a Panther, the exact number
of BPP martyrs is disputed. Earl Anthony even claimed there were more
than 338, but his credibility and motives are suspect, so his
undocumented claim is not worth much (Anthony, op. cit. , pp. 23,
33-34.). Twenty are listed in The Black Panther: Black Community News
Service newspaper, Berkeley, Spring 1991, pp. 20-21. Another ten are
listed in the Summer 1991 issue of the same newspaper, pp. 14-15.
86. Brown, op. cit., p. 271.
Copyright (c) 1996 Maoist Internationalist Movement.
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