The Battle of Oakland

Party for Self-Defense came with a uniform, a ten-point program and rules like "you must own and be proficient in the use of two guns." Once they had the basics figured out Bobby became the Chairman and Huey became the Minister of Defense and they started getting in neighborhood cops' faces, calling them pigs and scaring them out of their usual useless racist arrest pattern. Huey had some law school talk he'd learned and on top of being bigger than the pigs and more armed than the pigs he made it clear he was much smarter than the pigs.

They recruited Eldridge Cleaver, the rapist who wrote "Soul on Ice" to be their minister of information. After running out on the Party and spending years getting fed by Arabs and Soviet satellites, Eldridge returned to the U.S. where he currently preaches ultra-conservative claptrap. His career inspired Ishmael Reed to call him a "trickster monkey."

-by Ben Gray

America's race war is just about the only thing worth reading about. Is there anything more fascinating than genocide?

O.K., you know all those civil war reenactment dudes? Don't you think in another hundred years people will be rocking big Hendrix perms marching around Oaktown in berets and RUN-DMC jackets carrying assault rifles? An interview on a future "Unsolved Mysteries": the Black Panther Reenactment Club President insisting he is the reincarnation of Kathleen Cleaver...

So here's an extra-brief synopsis of the raddest army ever.

In the civil-rights-era fifties in the soAuth, Robert Williams writes a book called Negros With Guns about self-defense and then he organizes the Deacons for Defense who stand around civil rights leaders' homes and have many legendary confrontations with the Klan. My personal favorite is when Williams shouted after scattering crackers, "You fellows want to be more careful next time, you could get killed!"

In '64, Malcolm X makes his famous crack about black people should buy rifles and join the NRA. Mike Wallace's "Hate that Hate Produced" causes white America to shit its pants as J. Edgar Hoover sends memos to the COINTELPRO agents about "stopping the rise of a black messiah."

The other pre-Panther bad motherfuckers are: Stokely Carmichael who invented the phrase "Black Power" and the raised fist and all that. H. Rap Brown, the other guy from SNCC made many speeches saying stuff like "Violence is as American as Apple Pie" and "the only politics relevant to black people today is the politics of Revolution."

By now it's really cool for black people to talk about Africa and wear their hair long and read Frantz Fanon, but it's mostly a lot of talk until Huey and Bobby get their thing together. After checking out a bunch of other revolutionary groups and finding them short on guns, they start their own revolution. The Black Panther

Students at the Liberation Summer School

Meanwhile the Panthers started working on ways to get national attention. Escorting Betty Shabazz from the airport put them on an equal footing with the Nation of Islam in black america but white america didn't start to get it until a Panther contingent showed up at the legislature in Sacramento to protest a new law that would not allow an armed militia to patrol the streets. A cop grabbed a hold of Lil' Bobby Hutton, an extra young member who said something like, "Am I under arrest? Cause if I'm not under arrest get your hands off me!" The pig let go on national teevee.

By now Oakland pigs were driving around with Panther addresses and license plate numbers on their dashboards. Officer John Frey pulled over a known Panther vehicle and there was a shootout. I don't know who fired first, it doesn't matter. Anyway, Huey P. Newton was shot through the stomach and Officer John Frey was dead and the ballistics had everyone holding each other's guns. Huey went to jail.

"Free Huey!" on flags, buttons and posters, like the one of Huey in a rattan chair, were all over hip america. The hippies in SF and the Berkeley students were starting to really get into it. Leonard Bernstein and others were inviting Panthers to chic fundraisers. Imagine getting up at six in the morning, running the free breakfast program, selling revolutionary newspapers, going to your revolutionary class, getting into some tense arguments that could turn to gunfire with pigs or other black militants, and then heading off to some catered event to hobnob with communist artists.

Branches of the Party were springing up all over the damn place, the coolest being Chicago, but NY represented, LA got super-violent and underground right away, and little places like New Haven had trouble withstanding the increasing COINTELPRO pressure.

Panthers were getting killed. I guess the pig didn't feel like waiting for the revolution. It was during this period that the SWAT team, based on tactics learned in `nam, was invented. By now, the panthers had inspired other groups to armed struggle such as the latino Young Lords, the American Indian Movement and Chicago's

This is Little Bobby Hutton. He is sixteen or seventeen. They killed him.

hillbilly Young Patriot's Party. They were getting killed too. Panthers in prison like George Jackson got killed. Anyhow there is a long long list of murdered panthers that I'll leave out. If you are into gruesome details you should research this shit. In the newspaper "The Black Panther" these articles are invariably headlined "Pigs Vamp on a Brother."

In 1970, Huey got out of jail and the organization started to get more and more centralized in Oakland. The Free Breakfast Program became the Survival Programs and the Party opened a school. Bobby and Elaine Brown ran for office and lost. Meanwhile the Panthers were extorting money from the gangsters and capitalists who'd extorted it from the people in the first place. Before you go bad-mouthing Party leaders for their penthouse apartments and cocaine habits, check out Farrakhan's mansion in Chicago or Jesse Jackson's hook-up.

By the middle seventies all my favorite Panthers were long dead but many are still in 24-hour lock down in weird underground prisons in the midwest. Huey Newton died in a fight with crack dealers who were sick of giving him credit in 1989 or so. I've been told that the newspaper is back in effect but I haven't seen it at any of the radical book stores in NYC. Black Panther stuff is worth a lot of money here so if you see any of their albums or books or especially those baby blue sweatshirts, you can sell them to consignment shops or to me. I live at 171 East 2nd st #1 NYC,NY 10009. Don't visit me; if I think you are FBI, I'll start blasting.

The race war is far from over and they are trying to fry Mumia and everything. The biggest part of the problem beyond "power corrupts" is that you can never outgun the oppressor, viet cong not withstanding. I'll probably stick to letter-writing campaigns but part of me really wants to be Ericka Huggins.

How to talk like a Black Panther

I'm not going to go off on Ebonics or 70's jive talkin, but there some quotes you have to memorize, beyond the ten point program. Panthers love to quote Mao and Che. The two big Mao quotes are "power grows from the barrel of a gun" and "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

You really are nowhere if you don't constantly quote Fanon: "Violence is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction; it makes him fearless and restores his self-respect."

Another biggie is straight from the Declaration of Independence-

"But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security."

Also, check out and


Black Panthers' Executive Mandate Number One

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense calls upon the American People in general and the Black People in particular to take careful note of the racist California Legislature, which is now considering legislation aimed at keeping the Black People disarmed and powerless at the very same time that racist police agencies throughout the country are intensify the terror, brutality, murder and repression of Black People.

At the same time that the American Government is waging a racist war of genocide in Vietnam the concentration camps in the Japanese American were interned during World War II were being renovated and expanded. Since America has historically reserved it's most barbaric treatment for non-White people, we are forced to conclude that these concentration camps are being prepared for Black people who are determined to gain their freedom by any means necessary. The enslavement of Black people at the very founding of this country, the genocide practiced on the American Indians and the confinement of the survivors on reservations, the savage lynching of thousands Black men and women, the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima Nagasaki, and now the cowardly massacre in Vietnam all testify to the fact that toward people of color the racist power structure of America has but one policy: repression, genocide, terror, and the big stick.

Black people have begged, prayed, petitioned and demonstrated, among other things, to get the racist power structure of America to right the wrongs which have historically perpetuated against Black people. All of these efforts have been answered by more repression, deceit, and hypocrisy. As the aggression of the racist American Government escalates in Vietnam, the police agencies of America escalate the repression of Black people throughout the ghettos of America. Vicious police dogs, cattle prods, and increased patrols have become familiar sights in Black communities. City Hall turns a deaf ear to the pleas of Black people for relief from this increasing terror.

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense believes that the time has come for Black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late. The pending Mulford Act brings the hour of doom one step nearer. A people who have suffered so much for so long at the hands of a racist society must draw the line somewhere. We believe that the Black communities of America must rise up as one man to halt the progression of a trend that leads inevitable to their total destruction. [end]