[News] Retired teacher denies role in 1970 killing
News at freedomarchives.org
Fri Aug 12 08:48:19 EDT 2005
Retired teacher denies role in 1970 killing of Berkeley officer
August 12, 2005
BERKELEY, Calif. - A former Black Panther leader on Thursday scoffed at
accusations that two men arrested this week in the 1970 assassination-style
killing of a Berkeley police officer were associated with the militant
"These guys had nothing to with our Black Panther movement," said David
Hilliard, who was the group's chief of staff. "The Black Panther party was
a self defense movement. We didn't advocate violence against anybody.
"This is something that happened over 30 years ago," Hilliard added. "What
is this really all about? Is this a new kind of witch hunt, the further
criminalization of our movement? Because all they've got is history. There
is no Black Panther party."
On Wednesday, Berkeley police arrested a retired Oakland teacher who they
say shot rookie officer Ronald Tsukamoto at close range, and a San
Francisco man who was the alleged getaway driver. Tsukamoto, 28, was the
first Berkeley officer killed in the line of duty.
In a jailhouse interview with the San Francisco Chronicle Thursday night,
the former high school teacher accused of pulling the trigger, Styles
Price, 56, described himself as being politically active in 1970 but denied
any involvement in Tsukamoto's slaying.
He told the newspaper that he had been framed by a longtime friend, Don
Juan Graphenreed, who was arrested for allegedly driving Price from the
crime scene in a Studebaker.
"I am innocent, OK?" Price, a married father who taught history only a few
miles from where the brazen slaying took place, said during an interview
from Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. "I am not a monster. I am not a cop killer."
This week's arrests marks the second effort by police to bring charges in a
killing authorities have said in the past was carried out by Black Panthers
hoping to raise their stature in the militant group.
Graphenreed was also arrested in the case last year, but Alameda County
District Attorney Tom Orloff did not file charges because prosecutors
didn't have enough evidence. His office could decide Friday whether to
charge Price and Graphenreed, who are being held without bail in the city jail.
Berkeley police spokesman Joe Okies would not comment Thursday on the
department's effort to link the slaying to the Panthers.
"Homicide has conducted an extensive investigation, interviewed witnesses
and collected additional evidence using new technology," Okies said. "But
based on the length of time that has passed since the crime occurred and
the history involved in this case, we are limiting our comments about
Tsukamoto was shot in the head at close range while Tsukamoto was chatting
with a motorcyclist he had pulled over. Born in an internment camp during
World War II, he had been on the force less than a year when he was gunned
down on August 20, 1970.
The case was reopened three years ago after authorities received new leads.
During his interview with the Chronicle, Price repeated that he never was a
member of the Black Panthers and described himself as a libertarian
socialist. "I was militant but I was nonviolent," said Price. "I swear on
the souls of my mother and father."
Price said he has known Graphenreed since they were teenagers. In early
1970, he, his family and Graphenreed went to Cuba as part of the Venceremos
(We Shall Overcome) Brigade to challenge U.S. policies toward Cuba. But
from jail, he called his longtime friend "a notorious fabricator" who told
lies about him to the police.
Berkeley police served a search warrant at Price's home several months ago,
taking with them numerous boxes of items, including photographs, all of
which were returned, said Price's attorney, William Du Bois.
Du Bois said he hasn't seen any of the evidence against his client and
insisted that Price's only connection to the Black Panthers was that he had
been seen with some members of the group.
"He's been living a very peaceful, calm, law-abiding life," Du Bois said,
noting that police have made numerous arrests in recent years but no one
has been prosecuted in the case.
Associated Press Writer Garance Burke contributed to this report.
Friends and family, I need your help. My uncle Styles and father are being
subjected to harassment and intimidation by the Berkeley Police
Department. Yesterday morning my uncle was arrested and is awaiting being
charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder of a cop from a case
that took place in 1970.
There is a warrant out for Phil (my dad) and is communication with the
police and DA and his lawyer who have all told him there is no reason to
come home (he lives in Mexico now).The media is painting this evil picture
of them as murderers and terrorist panthers who are already guilty. The
police know where he is and know he will come willingly if he needs to,
yet the media is saying he has "fled" the country.They have been harassing
our family for two years now, it has come to this after all this time.
They have raided our houses, barged in and taken DNA, interviewed friends
and family, arrested two other people and still there is NO evidence that
links them to this. The only thing they have is that Phil and STyles were
panthers with a history with the police department (which happened over a
year after this event).
This is especially traumatizing for both brothers as they are older men,
who have had a lifetime of political oppression and intimidation by the
police. Phil was nearly killed by the police in 1970 during the Soledad
brother's trial where he was attacked by pigs in the courtroom and then
charged with two counts of assault. Later acquitted only because ABC 7
caught it on tape.
The motivation? One retired officer Lopes admitted to Styles' lawyer a
month ago that he can maintain benefits and receives financial bonus for
solving this case. He has not followed protocol, even the DA this morning
had no idea what Lopes was up to and the DA was supposed to sign the
warrant for Styles' arrest.
Ways you can help:
1. Foward this email on and get people to come out to....
Uncle Styles is being arraigned in Oakland. If you are able, please be
present to put pressure on the judge and DA to drop this case and to leave
us alone. Many different actions are in motion to end this bullshit abuse,
but for now, especially with the patriot act, we have nothing to stand on,
except our own two feet and our voices.
Wiley Manual Courthouse in Oakland, set for 2pm be there before 1:45 look
on the door to find out the department, my uncle's full name is Frederick
Styles Price, if not listed on any doors go to the clerk.
2. If you know anyone that can publish an article or a story that is
non-biased and progressive, we need some affirmative, un biased , anti
racist, and aggressive counter stories to the ones being printed in the
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