Tag Archives: Black Panthers

Warrior Princess Assata Shakur

007_1000There has been much talk about Cuba since the president changed the government’s policy and the normalizing relations. One of the misconceptions about Cuba or at least the faces we see are white; not true. Most of the island’s population is made up of the descendants of African slaves. One thing of great concern to some is that the agencies tasked with law enforcement will try to seek extradition for Assata Shakur exiled there for many years.

I lived through the 1960s and witnessed the excessive efforts government agencies used to destroy black leaders and organizations all over the country. When they talk about terrorism, the government failed to address militias or the KKK. In fact, every black person is a political prisoner because our forefathers were kidnapped from our native lands.

Yet, people like Fred Hampton, Bunche Carter, Malcolm X, and Dr. King who was known as men of peace were all targeted through what was called COINTELPRO. In my view, there have been a consistent and sustained assaults on the freedom of people of color though police shootings and abuse, which is a most pressing issue in the African American community. The might go back to Nate Turner when anyone trying to change the system must be destroyed and violently.

I won’t rant too much on the decision to list the exiled former Black Panther Assata Shakur as the first woman named to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list. So I will simply ask that you listen to legendary black activist, Angela Davis, as well as Shakur’s longtime attorney, Lennox Hinds. Davis, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is the subject of the recent film, “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners.”

She argues that the FBI’s move much like its initial targeting of Shakur and other Black Panthers four decades ago is politically motivated. Listen to the facts and see if this is an effort to strike fear and retribution designed to frighten people who are involved in struggles today. Forty years ago may seem like it was a long time ago but slavery ended in 1865, and it took until 1965 for African American’s to use the same bathroom or drink from the same water fountain as whites.

We are now living in the 21st century, and we’re still fighting the very same issues — police violence, healthcare, education, people in prison, and poverty. A professor of criminal justice at Rutgers University, Mr. Hinds has represented Shakur since 1973 says that this is a political act pushed by the state of New Jersey, by some members of Congress from Miami; with the intent of putting pressure on the Cuban government and to inflame public opinion to capture her.

I say, let’s not forget this woman and hope the Cuban government will tell America to leave her alone. You be the judge. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

(Democracy Now)


Happy Birthday H. Rap Brown

3In the 1960s, during civil rights movement, there were several leaders of note. Most fell into two very distinct factions; there were the non-violent faction and the more aggressive revolutionary wing of the movement. As we all know, it did not matter which faction the leader participated in “they all were either killed or jailed.” One of the more aggressive and outspoken leaders from the revolutionary side was H. Rap Brown! He is famously known for statements like “Burn Baby Burn.”

His government name was Hubert Gerold Brown before changing it to H. Rap Brown and one of the most outspoken faces of the Black Power Movement. He served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and as their Minister of Justice during the short-lived alliance between SNCC and the Black Panther Party. He became famous for his proclamations during that period saying “violence is as American as cherry pie,” as well as once stating that “If America don’t come around, we’re gonna burn it down”. He is also the author of his autobiography “Die Nigga Die!”

Brown like most of the so-called black radicals appeared on Hoover’s Ten Most Wanted list and was added after avoiding trial on charges of inciting a riot and of carrying a gun across state lines. Brown disappeared for 18 months and arrested after a reported shootout with officers. The shootout occurred after what was said to be an attempted robbery of a bar in 1971 in New York. His attorneys in the gun violation case were civil rights advocate Murphy Bell of Baton Rouge, and the self-described “radical lawyer” William Kunstler. Brown was scheduled to be tried in Cambridge, but the trial was moved to Bel Air, Maryland on a change of venue.

On March 9, 1970, two SNCC officials, Ralph Featherstone and William (“Che”) Payne, died on U.S. Route 1 south of Bel Air, Maryland, when a bomb on the front floorboard of their car exploded, completely destroying the car and dismembering both occupants. Theories of the origin of the bomb were disputed. Some say it was planted in an assassination attempt, others say it was intentionally carried by Payne to be used at the courthouse where Brown was to be tried. The next night the Cambridge courthouse was bombed.

He spent five years in Attica Prison after a robbery conviction. While in prison, Brown converted to Islam and changed his name from Hubert Gerold Brown to Jamil Abdullah al-Amin. After his release, he opened a grocery store in Atlanta, Georgia. He became a Muslim spiritual leader and community activist preaching against drugs and gambling in Atlanta’s West End neighborhood.

He is currently serving a life sentence for murder following the 2000 shooting of two Fulton County Sheriff’s deputies, both black, who were trying to serve a warrant on him. One deputy, Ricky Kinchen, died in the shooting. On March 9, 2002, nearly two years after the shooting took place, al-Amin was convicted of 13 criminal charges, including the murder of Deputy Kinchen. Four days later, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was sent to Georgia State Prison, the state’s maximum security facility later transferred to ADX Florence Supermax prison in Colorado.

He believed “there is no in between, you’re either free or you’re a slave”. I agree!!! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


On This Day: They Assassinated Chairman Fred Hampton

11There have been countless murders of black men, since the founding of America, but the assassination of Fred Hampton speaks loudly to the abuse and corruption of the American police departments. Since the Nat Turner Incident they, white folk, will never allow a black person to rise with suburb leadership skills. History demonstrates the penalty for such a strong black man is death!

On December 4th, 1969, Fred Hampton, an African American activist, and deputy chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party was murdered. Chairman Fred was assassinated while slept in his apartment during a raid by a tactical unit of the Cook County, Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This activity was in concert by the infamous seditious FBI program known as COINTELPRO designed to eliminate activist deemed by its director as “subversive.”

A public statement made to the news media a day after the assassination by FBI Special Agent Gregg York, “We expected about twenty Panthers to be in the apartment when the police raided the place. Only two of those black niggers were killed, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.”

Chairman Fred, as he was known, was successful and revered for organizing young African Americans for the NAACP. He was quickly attracted to the Black Panthers’ approach, which was based on a ten-point program of a mix of black designed for the survival of the black community. Chairman Fred joined the Party’s nascent Illinois chapter SNCC’s organizer Bob Brown in late 1967.

Over the next year, Hampton and his associates made a number of significant achievements in Chicago. Perhaps his most important accomplishment was his brokering of a nonaggression pact between Chicago’s most powerful street gangs. Emphasizing that racial and ethnic conflict between gangs would only keep its members entrenched in poverty, he strove to forge a class-conscious, multi-racial alliance between the Panther Party, the Young Patriots, and the National Young Lords. Soon after the pact was formed they were joined by the Students for a Democratic Society, the Blackstone Rangers, the Brown Berets, and the Red Guard.

In May 1969, Hampton called a press conference to announce that a truce had been declared among this “rainbow coalition,” a phrase coined by Hampton and made popular later by Jesse Jackson. Jackson eventually appropriated the name in forming his own unrelated coalition – Rainbow/Push. This achievement marked him as a major threat in the eyes of the FBI, signaled his death.

Subsequent investigations have shown that FBI chief Hoover was determined to prevent the formation of a cohesive Black movement in the United States “by any means necessary. Hoover saw the Panthers, and similar radical coalitions forged by Hampton in Chicago, as a frightening stepping stone toward the creation of just such a revolutionary body that could cause a radical change in the U.S. government. They opened a file on Hampton in 1967 that over the next two years expanded to twelve volumes and over four thousand pages.

By May of that year, Chairman Fred’s name was placed on the “Agitator Index,” and he would be designated a “key militant leader for Bureau reporting purposes. In late 1968, the Racial Matters Squad of the FBI’s Chicago field office brought in an individual named William O’Neal, who had recently been arrested twice, for interstate car theft and impersonating a federal officer.

In exchange for dropping the felony charges and a monthly stipend, O’Neal apparently agreed to infiltrate the Black Panther Party as a counterintelligence operative. He joined the Party and quickly rose in the organization, becoming Director of Chapter security and Hampton’s bodyguard.

In 1969, the FBI Special Agent in San Francisco wrote Hoover that his investigation of the Black Panther Party revealed that in his city, at least, the Panthers were primarily feeding breakfast to children. Hoover fired back a memo implying the career ambitions of the agent were directly related to his supplying evidence to support Hoover’s view of the Panthers was “a violence-prone organization seeking to overthrow the Government by revolutionary means.”

Hoover was willing to use false claims to attack his political enemies. In one memo, he wrote: “Purpose of counterintelligence action is to disrupt the BPP, and it is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge.” Using anonymous letters, the FBI sowed distrust and eventually instigated a split between the Panthers and the Rangers, with O’Neal himself instigating an armed clash between the two on April 2, 1969. The Panthers became effectively isolated from their power base, so the FBI went to work to undermine its ties with other radical organizations.

3

O’Neal was instructed to “create a rift” between the Party and Students for a Democratic Society, whose Chicago headquarters was only blocks from that of the Panthers. The Bureau released a batch of racist cartoons in the Panther’s’ name, aimed at alienating white activists, and launched a disinformation program to forestall the realization of the “Rainbow Coalition.”

In repeated directives, J. Edgar Hoover demanded that the COINTELPRO personnel “destroy what the Black Panther Party stands for” and “eradicate its “serve the people programs”. In early October, Hampton and his girlfriend, Deborah Johnson, pregnant with their first child, rented a four-and-a-half room apartment at 2337 West Monroe Street to be closer to Black Panther Party headquarters.

O’Neal reported to his superiors that much of the Panthers’ “provocative” stockpile of arms was being stored there. None of which was true but the paid government informant played the role of Judas bringing the powers of the state to kill him. To see how far great powers will go is shocking and a moral shame. Yet, it continues today with all the police killings of black people! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Revolutionary Quotes

5 (1)Revolution is about the need to re-evolve political, economic and social justice and power back into the hands of the people, preferably through legislation and policies that make human sense. That’s what revolution is about. Revolution is not about shootouts.

When donors visited the Black Panther Party, they came and saw our real programs, a real clinic, with real doctors and medics, giving service to people.

If they had not murdered Malcolm X, there probably never would have been a Black Panther Party.

The FBI’s Counterintelligence Program would work hand-in-hand with police departments, literally planning attacks on Black Panther Party offices throughout the United States of America.

There is an entire generation of young people who know nothing about how viciously the FBI attacked The Black Panther Party, and why.

Bobby Seale


Huey P. Newton: Founder Of The Black Panther Party For Self-Defense

th (19)There were and are so many courageous black leaders throughout our history, unfortunately, unless they died for a white cause they were erased from the pages of time. This story is the last in a week long articles paying homage to a few of the bravest black revolutionary leaders of our time. In my opinion, what they did and the stand they took for black people is unmatched and profound.

Huey P. Newton was born in Monroe, Louisiana, on February 17, 1942. You may find this surprising, but he was named after former Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long. Brother Huey’s legacy began in 1966 with co-founder Bobby Seale when they founded the left-wing Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

The organization was central to the Black Power movement, making headlines with its inflammatory rhetoric and militaristic style, becoming a leading figure in the black power movement of the 1960s in Oakland, California. The most significant thing Newton did was the create of what became known as the Head Start Program that over the years has provide benefits to million of poverty stricken children. What a great legacy!

The Black Panthers mission was to improve life in black communities and established social programs to help those in need. They also fought against police brutality in black neighborhoods by white cops. Members of the group would go to arrests in progress and watch for abuse. Newton himself was arrested in 1967 for allegedly killing an Oakland police officer during a traffic stop.

The case was eventually dismissed after two retrials ended in hung juries. He was later convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 2 to 15 years in prison. But public pressure – “Free Huey” became a popular slogan of the day – helped Newton’s cause.

Despite his legal run-ins, Newton began to take his education seriously. Although he graduated high school in 1959, Newton barely knew how to read. He became his own teacher, learning to read by himself and eventually earned a Ph.D. In the mid-1960s, Newton decided to pursue his education at Merritt College where he met Bobby Seale. The two were briefly involved with political groups at the school before they set out to create one of their own.

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was founded in 1966. Unlike many of the other social and political organizers of the time, they took a militant stance, advocating the ownership of guns by African Americans, and were often seen brandishing weapons. A famous photograph shows Newton – the group’s Minister of Defense – holding a gun in one hand and a spear in the other.

The group believed that violence – or the threat of violence – might be needed to bring about social change. They set forth their political goals in a document called the Ten-Point Program, which included better housing, jobs, and education for African Americans.

It also called for an end to the economic exploitation of black communities. Still the organization itself was not afraid to punctuate its message with a show of force. They vigorously protest a gun bill in 1967, Newton and other members of the Panthers entered the California Legislature fully armed. The action was a shocking one that made news across the country.

The Panthers became in disarray mainly because of efforts by the J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and initiatives like COINTELPRO. Most don’t know that what we now know as Head Start was developed by the Black Panther Party. FBI Director Hoover said, “The biggest internal threat to the country’s internal security was the Panthers program to feed the children of the black community.”

During the Party’s existence, members of the group clashed with police many times. The party’s treasurer, Bobby Hutton, was killed during one of these encounters in 1968. In the 1970s, the Black Panthers began to fall apart key members left the group. During this time Newton faced more criminal charges and to avoid prosecution, he fled to Cuba in 1971, but he returned three years later.

Despite his legal run-ins, Newton began to take his education seriously and returned to school, earning a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1980. In his final years, however, it is believed that he suffered from a drug problem. The once popular revolutionary died on August 22, 1989, in Oakland, California, supposedly after being shot on the street for what “they” said was a failed drug deal gone badly. However, it smelled of a COINTELPRO plot by most.

Huey Newton was a man of profound stature and, in my opinion, had the courage to make selfless sacrifices for the benefit of a people at a time when the community needed it most. He once said, “You can jail a Revolutionary, but you can’t jail the Revolution.” If you stop struggling, then you stop life. Black Power Movement in it purest form was simply about giving power to people who have not had the power to determine their destiny.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

JUST A SEASON

FaceBook @ John T. Wills

Like my FaceBook Page
Twitter @ John T. Wills

Commentary: The Ferguson Effect

th (4)Well, Well, Well!!! Over the weekend, I heard the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. America’s Top Cop said, in essence, cops are afraid to do their jobs because of the Ferguson Effect. Is he admitting that their job is to kill unarmed black people or that they are doing wrong and don’t want people to evidence it? Frankly, no one thinks this is true, not even him, unless maybe the folks at the FOP, who are paid to make sure the cops get off when they kill. If what he said has any merit, fire them for not doing their job like anybody else.

In light of the horrible history of his agency I thought, at first, old man Hoover visited him in his sleep. I am sure this guy knows the history of his agency when Hoover had a vendetta against the black community. My entire life I have known, read about, seen police brutality and corruption by cops. Just a reminder for those who didn’t know, the primary reason the Black Panthers were formed, carried guns openly was because of extreme police misconduct, and abuse upon the black community. Remember, Hoover versus Dr. King; Hoover versus the Black Panthers, Freed Hampton or any other black organization trying to secure equal right for black people. Or maybe he forgot about COINTELPRO!

Now, the conversation has shifted to Black Lives Matter Organization comparing them to the Klug Klux Klan with attempts to demonize the group and shut them down. In my opinion, this guy and his agency should be out front leading the charge for better law enforcement. But it is not! It sounds like he is providing cover or attempting to cast shade on the evil being perpetrated by these shameful police actions against black people. The American people have every right to protest against the almost daily killing of unarmed black people.

Let me recap; Comey’s statement blamed the increase in shootings and killings, in part, on the frequency of civilians reaching for their smartphones to document anything from traffic stops to protests. On Friday, he told several hundred students at the University of Chicago Law School the “era of viral videos” has led officers to feel they’re “under siege” and unwilling to get out of their cars.

The New York Times reported several people at the Justice Department “privately fumed” at the remarks. The White House on Monday slammed FBI Director Comey’s notion that pervasive cell phone footage featuring police actions has led to an uptick in violent crime. Earnest said there was no evidence to back up Comey’s statements. “In fact, you hear law enforcement leaders across the country indicating that that’s not what’s taking place,” Earnest said.

Comey also said, the prevalence of drugs and guns may be to blame. On Monday, he reiterated to a group of law enforcement officials at the International Association of Chiefs of Police that he had a “strong sense” officers were changing their behavior for fear of being caught on camera. Does he not get it, that is the exact reason for videotaping the despicable behavior because their superiors are doing nothing to stop the lawlessness taking place in the police ranks. Everybody knows and can see the behavior we have seen within the racks is downright despicable.

As if he does not believe there is something called the First Amendment; he went on to say, “Each time somebody interprets [the] hashtag ‘Black Lives Matter’ as anti-law enforcement, one line moves away, and each time that someone interprets [the] hashtag ‘Police Lives Matter’ as anti-black, the other line moves away,”.  He said, using an analogy of two lines, one representing law enforcement and the other local communities.

Those folks preach about all the good cops out there and praise them as heroes. Seems to me, if there are so many good cops, where are they when the bad ones are doing and inflicting terror on the community, particularly black communities around this country. Is it because Ferguson exposed the diabolical actions of the police that he is referring too that some change is taking place. Maybe that why he says the Ferguson Effect is dangerous.

The remarks noted in his presentation lend no credence to the so-called Ferguson Effect; even though Comey has conceded himself there is little evidence to support this theory. In case you don’t know the term is named after last year’s unrest in Missouri, which was coined after the killing of Michael Brown and linked the rise in violent crime to harsh scrutiny over officers’ use of force. In fact, the rise in murder rates, which launched the notion that “#BlackLivesMatter Costs Black Lives,” has drawn harsh criticism mainly from the right wing folks and conservatives.

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates has adamantly stated, and I agree, “There is no Ferguson effect” and called the link between crime and less-aggressive policing “utterly baseless.” Why doesn’t he and others see that what they call law enforcement, we call a gang of lawless thugs who are nothing more than an occupying force, who operate with impunity in the use of force against the people who they are paid to protect and serve. Let me say this – I have never in my entire life had a positive encounter with the police. So dude, what you proclaim is as much a fantasy as Peter Pan!!! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


The Snake

sMy Granddaddy would tell me fascinating stories designed to develop and guide me into manhood. In fact, he would specifically use the phrase: “I raised you to be a man and as a man, you don’t know what you may have to do but when the time comes, you do it.” I heard this that even today it brings a warm smile – “when I have to do it”. He said it so often throughout my youth that to me it was more like a commandment.

I loved Granddaddy more than life itself. I knew, even then, his teachings were an inspired declaration of his celestial will or more simply put – his vision that shaped my destiny defining my purpose. Pop’s would teach me lessons, often times, like an Aesop Fables to make me think and it was my job to figure out the moral of the story.

This is my favorite:

The way the story was told to me, Granddaddy’s friend, Mr. Bob whose job was to offer a prayer every Sunday morning at church during the service prior to the preacher’s sermon, a job he had held for years. Sunday was a special day for the community, and for him to have a position where he would have the attention of everyone was a big deal. More accurately stated it was a platform for him to perform. He would have been a great entertainer.

Mr. Bob would walk to church every Sunday morning, rain or shine, from his home. The trip was several miles up and down hills and around curves, and he would be dressed in his best suit for the morning service. During the walk he would practice his part for the service, the prayer, with the intention of making it a show complete with screams and tears. This show would sometimes last thirty minutes. There were many Sundays one would wonder how one man could have so much to ask of the Lord and maybe say, please, let somebody else get a blessing.

On his way to church this particular Sunday, Mr. Bob came across an injured snake. In what he perceived as divine intervention, God said to him, help this poor creature. He realized he did not have a prayer for that day’s service, so he thought, wow, if I help the snake I can pray for us to have the strength to help all of God’s creatures. Since the snake is the lowliest of all creatures, this would really inspire the congregation and hopefully give them the encouragement to do the same at least until next Sunday’s message. So he picked up the badly injured snake and placed him in a safe place until he could return from church.

With great energy, and now inspired, Mr. Bob went on his way. He planned and practiced his prayer as he marched on to church. After he arrived and exchanged a few greetings, the service began with a joyful noise, as they say, meaning full of song. Then it was his turn to pray. He began to pray with a powerful tone, full of emotion. He asked God to give each person within the sound of his voice the strength to reach out and help all God’s creatures, from the loving dove to the lowly snake. His message had many in the tiny church standing with shouts of Amen. He felt he had done his job as he closed, asking God to bless the church and said Amen. In his usual style this took about a half hour.

To his surprise, the pastor also chose a sermon nearly identical to his message which took about another hour and a half, talking about helping all of God’s creatures. What a great day it was, Mr. Bob thought. Normally after the service ended everyone hung around and fellowshipped as it was one of the few chances they had to socialize. Mr. Bob would not hang around on this day – he had a mission and left church in a hurry. He rushed back to the spot where his injured snake was placed hoping it would still be there. He was very excited when he arrived to find it was where he left it. He put his snake in a burlap bag he had gotten from the church and took the snake home.

Over the next several weeks Mr. Bob cared for this creature, desperately trying to save the snake and nursing it back to health. About three weeks later he thought it was time to take his snake back to where he found it, thinking it was well enough to be set free. The following Sunday, he put on his best suit and started his journey to church with snake in hand. As he arrived at the spot where he had found it, he thought, what a wonderful thing he had done. He was sure to receive God’s blessing for this act of kindness.

He rubbed the snake gently and said goodbye. However, when he reached into the bag to grab it, suddenly the snake raised his head and bit him. Then bit him again and again. Mr. Bob cried out, “Why would you bite me after all I’ve done for you? My God why?” I guess he was expecting an answer from God, but none came. He repeated his cry once more. Then the snake stuck his head out of the bag and said, “I am a snake and that’s what we do.”After hearing this story over and over again, I finally figured out what it meant. It was a lesson that would prove to be invaluable.

Be careful in your dealings with people because people, just like the snake, will hurt you – that’s what they do. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Just a Season Excerptjust a season large book cover © 2009 All Rights Reserved

http://johntwills.com

FaceBook @ John T. Wills
Like my FaceBook Page
Twitter @ John T. Wills


%d bloggers like this: