Black Panther Party History Month and political prisoners in the U.S.

In loving memory of HERMAN WALLACE and our determination to bring LYNNE STEWART home!

“To die for the . . . racists . . . is lighter than a feather. But to die for the people . . . is heavier than any mountain and deeper than any sea.”—Huey P. Newton

“We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire. But we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity.”—Fred Hampton

The month of October is Black Panther Party History Month. This is because the Black Panther Party (for Self Defense) was founded in the month of October, 1966, in Oakland, California; and it is appropriate, especially during this month of October 2013, to reflect on past and ongoing political struggles of we, the struggling everyday ordinary Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people, in this nation and throughout Mother Earth.

A brief history of the Black Panther Party

In addition to conducting many community political education (PE) classes and opposing rampant police brutality and violence, the young women and men of the Black Panther Party (BPP) in that era, engaged nationwide in literally serving ‘the people body and soul’ through its numerous BPP programs including, free breakfast programs, free clothing programs, free medical clinics, free shoe programs, and a host of other former BPP programs throughout this nation. Strong and functional allies of the BPP included Brown, Red, Yellow, and White people from organizations such as the Brown Berets, the Young Lords, the American Indian Movement (AIM), the Chinese Voice Party (CVP), Students for A Democratic Society (SDS), and the White Panther Party, etc. This of course caused chagrin, deep consternation, and unbridled ire on the part of the U.S. political establishment (whose goal was to perpetuate the status quo). The reaction by the U.S. government and police agencies nationwide to the community programs and political organizing of the Black Panther Party was swift and exceedingly brutal.

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Black Panther Party (BPP) and its membership nationwide, found itself as the prime targets of a nationally coordinated campaign of terror, which included the government tactics of ensnarement, discreditation, disruption, wrongful imprisonment, and utter annihilation—carried out by the U.S. government, local police agencies, their assorted and concomitant agents and agents provocateur, and the U.S. ‘news’ media itself. As a result of this, numerous BPP members throughout the United States were murdered, including (but by no means limited to) Bobby Hutton, Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, John Huggins, Bunchy Carter, and Welton Armstead. Many other BPP members, including the late Geronimo Ji-Jaga (Pratt), found themselves framed, tortured physically and/or psychologically, and imprisoned on vicious trumped-up criminal charges intended to ‘neutralize’ and silence them. Despite its proud, stalwart, and undying legacy, by early 1980, the Black Panther Party had been utterly physically decimated and ceased to exist as a viable functioning national organization. Nonetheless, it had made a deep and indelible mark in the consciousness of everyday people.

Of the various internal U.S. government horrific campaigns of terror used against the BPP membership, perhaps the best known and most infamous is COINTELPRO (the Counter Intelligence Program—to discredit, frame, disrupt, neutralize, imprison, and/or murder BPP members, as well as members of other organizations, including the American Indian Movement). In this year of 2013, the horror and full scope of this U.S. government internal campaign of terror has still not been seriously addressed or rectified. Nor did this campaign of under-the-radar government terror and fabrication cease in the 1970s. It continues to the present.

There remain today, decades hence, in this year of 2013, myriads of past and present victims of the U.S. government’s (ongoing) internal mission of terror, as attested to by the torturous and wrongful imprisonment of numerous persons targeted by the U.S. government. Moreover, the geographical exile of others, from this their country of birth, including Black Panther Party veterans Assata Shakur and Pete O’Neal, is a clear indication of the reality that they can expect of no justice from this government, including its judiciary—even now.

Some of the de facto ‘political prisoners’ languishing in U.S. death gulags—euphemistically referred to as prisons—include Sundiata Acoli, Albert Woodfox (of the ‘Angola 3′), Leonard Peltier, Eddie Conway, Russell Shoats, Jalil Muntaqim, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Chip Fitzgerald, Jamil Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown), and (the ‘people’s lawyer) 74-year-old Lynne Stewart. These aforementioned persons are but the tip of a gigantic iceberg of U.S. political prisoners being held in this nation, and all of them are either Black Panther Party veterans, or had been political allies and/or defenders of the Black Panther Party’s quest for genuine political, economic, and social justice in this nation.

The U.S. government vendetta against the BPP still not satisfied

Not satisfied with its bloody campaigns of terror including frame-ups, disinformation, murders, and wrongful imprisonments of Black Panther Party members in the 1960s and 1970s, U.S. authorities, on January 23, 2007, rounded up and jailed eight former members of the Black Panther Party (in California, New York, and Florida) on bogus charges related to the 1971 (that’s right—1971) killing of a San Francisco police officer. U.S. authorities engaged in this vendetta in 2007, despite the fact that the very same matter had, in 1975, been tossed out of court by a California judge after it was learned that the charges were based upon statements made by three men after police had tortured them for several days using electric shock, cattle prods, sensory deprivation, beatings, plastic bags and hot wet blankets for asphyxiation. That vendetta became known as the case of the ‘SF 8′ (San Francisco 8).

Due to strong and consistent community support of the SF 8, and after four and one half years, and well over a million dollars of taxpayers’ money having been spent by police and government prosecutors, the case ended in 2011, with not one of the SF-8 being found guilty of killing the police officer.

Nevertheless, this is representative of the ongoing government vendetta against veterans of the Black Panther Party and its legacy—even after 40 years or more!

Herman Wallace

On October 1, 2013, after 41 years of wrongful imprisonment (at least 40 of which were spent in solitary confinement), the murder conviction of the critically ill and dying Black Panther Party veteran Herman Wallace (of the ‘Angola 3′), was overturned and he was released in an ambulance. Three days later, on the morning of October 4, 2013, Herman Wallace passed on. Despite many years of effort to obtain the compassionate release of the ailing Herman Wallace, the government and prison authorities had callously refused to allow him a compassionate release. The over four decades that Herman spent in solitary confinement is nothing short of torture and unspeakable cruelty. There simply are no words to adequately describe the overwhelming barbarity and sadism of this government, its judicial system, and its prison gulags.

On the other hand, there are no words to adequately describe the love, beauty, resilience, perseverance, and spirit of the late Herman Wallace. As Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton said many years ago, “To die for the . . . racists . . . is lighter than a feather. But to die for the people . . . is heavier than any mountain and deeper than any sea.” Herman’s love for the people and his determination must always be remembered even as we seek to emulate it. His indescribable sacrifice must not and will not be in vain; for in the final analysis, Herman Wallace won—HE won for and with ALL OF US!

Lynne Stewart

The 74-year-old political prisoner Lynne Stewart has provided us with yet another example of the power and resilience of the human spirit. For the over 40 years that Lynne has, as the genuine ‘people’s lawyer,’ vigorously championed and defended the human, political, and legal rights of everyday ordinary Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people—she gave us her ALL. Now SHE NEEDS US! She is literally dying of cancer in a U.S. prison gulag, and it is up to we. the everyday ordinary people (whom she has served for so very long), to consistently raise our collective voices to a crescendo pitch and relentlessly insist that Lynne Stewart be granted the compassion that she needs and so well deserves. We must find the ways and means creatively and persistently to bring Lynne home to be with her immediate family and those of the larger human family who cherish her and understand compassion!

Lynne Stewart is one of us, the everyday people. Her passion for justice must be our own passion to bring our sister home while she yet lives. Don’t wait. ACT NOW!

Let us not mourn for Lynne, for she still lives! Let us ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, and ORGANIZE SOME MORE to bring our Sister home. Her bondage is OUR bondage, and in the words of the late great writer, activist, and philosopher Rosa Luxemburg, “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”

To see the increasing worldwide support for Lynne Stewart and some of the many different ways that we can Show Love For Lynne Stewart click on Love for Lynne Stewart.

To sign the new petition in support of Lynne Stewart’s compassionate release, click on the right-hand side of Justice For Lynne Stewart.

History and legacy of the Black Panther Party

The history and legacy of the Black Panther Party is one of the unrelenting COLLECTIVE struggle of everyday ordinary Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people in this nation and throughout our precious Mother Earth. And that struggle is far from over!

Remember: Each one, reach one. Each one, teach one. Onward then, my sisters and brothers. Onward!

Intrepid Report Associate Editor Larry Pinkney is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil / political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities, Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS News Hour, formerly known as The MacNeil / Lehrer News Hour. Pinkney is a former university instructor of political science and international relations, and his writings have been published in various places, including The Boston Globe, the San Francisco BayView newspaper, the Black Commentator, Global Research (Canada), LINKE ZEITUNG (Germany), and Mayihlome News (Azania/South Africa). For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here to read excerpts from the book.)

7 Responses to Black Panther Party History Month and political prisoners in the U.S.

  1. This is an amazing piece, Larry. You brought it all back. And it’s ironically on Columbus Day weekend, which celebrates the beginning of the colonization and destruction of people of color by European white brigands, up and down the coasts of the Americas. As a white man, I shudder. My soul feels like it’s on ice, frozen by the institutionalized racism that has purveyed hundreds of years of our past, present, and ongoing into our future. Eligible voter counts for blacks are still being taken in Florida. And then there’s that Martin boy, oh yes, and his bloated murderer, whose father was an ex-”justice.” Till every person of color has justice, we are all in the bonds, seen or unseen, of this cancer called racism. Bravo for the Black Panthers’ ongoing courage and for your astuteness to prod our memories and not forget but recall for us all that is still going down.
    Jerry Mazza,
    Associate Editor.

  2. TO: Jerry Mazza
    My Brother,
    Thank you very much for your words of encouragement to me and ALL of us. In the final analysis, WE the everyday ordinary Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people will TRIUMPH in this ongoing, long, and grueling struggle.

    Again, THANK YOU. All Power To The People!

    In struggle,
    Larry Pinkney

  3. My brother; THANK YOU! All Power To All The People!
    In solidarity,
    Jerry Mazza.

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  5. The above article titled, ‘Whitewashing Huey Newton,’ by Alexander Baron, who was not a member of the Black Panther Party or a target and victim of the bloody and infamous government COINTELPRO activities to defame, frame, imprison, and neutralize the Black Panther Party, is reminiscent of the same old tactics used by media agents and agent-provocateurs to CONFUSE and MISINFORM everyday people while simultaneously DEFAMING the true legacy not only of Huey P. Newton – but the ENTIRE original Black Panther Party (founded in 1966). For an accurate and definitive analysis of both (Dr.) Huey P. Newton and the entire Black Panther Party, see the article below:
    Huey P. Newton and the Intrepid Legacy of the Black Panther Party

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