An article in a local Chicago newspaper mentioned the Black Panthers in reference to an up and coming documentary. They portrayed them to be heroes of the civil rights movement. This radical left-wing interpretation is far from the truth.
The Black Panther Party was a revolutionary political organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in October 1966 in Oakland, California. They originally gathered to fight against police brutality and racial inequalities. The group’s following soon spread to major U.S. cities following the assassination of Martin Luther King. Panther Party members accomplished some good through community activities, food pantries, free breakfasts to children, and other services. But remember, so did Al Capone.
In reality, the Black Panthers were better known for murder, rape, drug sales and torture. Here are a few examples of the Panther’s other community service projects:
- Black Panther Party members were involved in many firefights with law enforcement; Huey Newton allegedly killed Officer John Frey in 1967 during a traffic stop, and Eldridge Cleaver led an ambush in 1968 of Oakland police officers, in which two officers were wounded and Panther Bobby Hutton was killed.
- July 17, 1969: Two policemen were shot and a Panther was killed in a gun battle in Chicago.
- October 18, 1969: A Panther was killed in a gunfight with police outside a Los Angeles restaurant.
- December 4, 1969: Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed by law enforcement in Chicago.
Other notable incidents:
- In May 1969, three members of the New Haven chapter tortured and murdered Alex Rackley, a 19-year-old member of the New York chapter, because they suspected him of being a police informant.
- In April 1969, members of the New York chapter, known as the Panther 21 were indicted and jailed for a bombing conspiracy. (Conspiring to bomb two police stations.)
- Betty Van Patter, the Black Panther’s bookkeeper went missing on December 13, 1974. Some weeks later, her severely beaten corpse was found on a San Francisco Bay beach. Huey Newton later allegedly confessed to a friend that he had ordered Van Patter’s murder, and that she had been tortured and raped before being killed.
- In October 1977, Flores Forbes, the Panther party’s assistant chief of staff, directed a failed attempt to eliminate Crystal Gray, a key prosecution witness in Huey Newton’s murder trial of Kathleen Smith. The assassins inadvertently attacked the wrong house and the occupants fought back killing one Panther while the others fled. Forbes fled to Las Vegas, Nevada, with the help of Panther medic Nelson Malloy. Fearing betrayal by Malloy, Huey Newton allegedly ordered a “house cleaning,” and Nelson Malloy was shot and buried alive in the desert.
The Panthers also reached out to foreign governments that were enemies of the United States for support. In 1970, a group of Panthers traveled through Asia and they were welcomed as guests of the governments of North Vietnam, North Korea, and China, in order to discuss ways in which they could help each other fight against American imperialism.
Furthermore, two of the more prominent supporters of the Black Panthers were Bobby Rush, U.S. House of Representatives, who was once minister of defense, and actress Jane Fonda, a famous anti-Vietnam war activist, who applauded the work of the Panthers.
I ask the Chicago Sun-Times if these are really the people you choose to honor when there are thousands of worthy individuals that deserve credit for advancing the civil rights movement in the United States. This choice is a particularly confusing one.
To all my brothers and sisters in blue, lock and load and protect each other. And as always, stay safe.
– Larry Casey
Note: View Larry Casey’s website at www.StoriesofaChicagoPoliceOfficer.com/ and review his book by the same name.
(Feature image: Wikipedia)