[Ppnews] Arrest of former Black Panthers aims to erase revolutionary legacy

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 30 08:58:48 EST 2007


News and Analysis

Arrest of former Black Panthers aims to erase revolutionary legacy
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
By: Sérgio Rodrigues

Evidence based on torture

On Jan. 23, police arrested eight men on charges 
relating to the 1971 killing of police sergeant 
John V. Young. Seven of the accused are former 
Black Panther Party members. Young was shot 
through the speaking hole of a bulletproof glass 
while sitting behind the visitor’s window of San 
Francisco’s Ingleside police station.

The men arrested were Ray Michael Boudreaux and 
Henry Watson Jones of Altadena, Calif.; Richard Brown of San


Harold Taylor, center, was arrested in Panama City, Fla.
Francisco; Francisco Torres of Queens, NY; Herman 
Bell, and Anthony Bottom, who are incarcerated in 
New York state; and Harold Taylor of Panama City, Fla.

Richard O'Neal, 57, of San Francisco, was 
arrested on conspiracy to murder police officers, 
but was not charged as a participant in the 
killing. Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth was charged 
in the case but has not yet been arrested. (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 23)

Taylor had been previously arrested for Young’s 
murder together with John Bowman and Ruben Scott 
in 1973. However, the charges were dropped once 
evidence surfaced that they were tortured by cops 
to obtain phony confessions. New Orleans police 
used electric shock, cattle prods, beatings, 
sensory deprivation, plastic bags and hot, wet 
blankets for asphyxiation to extract confessions from the three men.

"There were people from the forces of the San 
Francisco Police Department who participated in 
harassment, torture and my interrogation in 
1973," the late Bowman had said. "None of these 
people have ever been brought to trial. None of 
these people have ever been charged with anything."

Bell and Bottom, who together with Albert 
Washington are known as the New York Three, have 
been political prisoners since the early 1970s, 
after being falsely convicted of killing two New 
York City police officers. All three men were 
mentioned in documents of the FBI’s Counter 
Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) as members of 
the Black liberation movement who had to be "neutralized."

Boudreaux and Jones were arrested in 2005 after 
refusing to testify in the reopened Young case. 
Following their incarceration, the two men helped 
found the Committee for the Defense of Human 
Rights to draw attention to the abuses 
perpetrated by the government of the United 
States and law enforcement authorities in an 
effort to destroy progressive organizations and 
individuals. The two men have traveled the 
country denouncing such police tactics. Boudreaux 
had recently printed a pamphlet titled "Torture 
Methods Similar to Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib used 
against members of Black Panther Party." (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 23)

Not surprisingly, government officials have no 
inclination to discuss this history of torture 
and repression against Black activists.

Rewriting history

Following the arrests, the San Francisco Police 
Department’s deputy chief of investigations, 
Morris Tabak, stated that members of the Black 
Liberation Army­an underground offshoot of the 
Black Panther Party­"were bent on creating terror 
and chaos by assassinating police officers" in 
the late 1960s and early 70s. Officials claim 
that the men were BLA militants at the time of 
Young’s murder. (Los Angeles Times, Jan. 27)

Racist characterizations of the Black movement­as 
"terrorists" and "assassins"­which the capitalist 
media faithfully disseminates, are lies. It was 
the state apparatus that was "bent on creating 
terror and chaos" in Black communities well 
before the Black Panther Party or the BLA came into being.

Rampant police brutality against Black 
communities was one of the conditions leading to 
the birth and growth of the Black Panther Party. 
Originally called the Black Panther Party for 
Self-Defense, it responded to the urgent need for 
organizing Black communities against state violence.

The Black Panther Party soon found itself in the 
crosshairs of the FBI’s COINTELPRO, like many 
other groups deemed too "radical" by the U.S. 
government. The persistent and often violent 
state repression against the Black Panthers 
through infiltrations, frame-ups, arrests and 
assassinations had a devastating impact on the organization.

Some Black Panthers came to the conclusion that 
aboveground work was not possible under such 
unbearable conditions and that an underground, 
armed organization was needed­an important factor in the formation of the BLA.

The Black Panther Party was considered "radical" 
not because of its support for armed 
self-defense, but rather because it exposed the 
bankruptcy of the capitalist system in a way that threatened its stability.

Actor Roger Guenveur Smith pointed out in Spike 
Lee's film, "A Huey P. Newton Story," that FBI 
director J. Edgar Hoover believed "It was not the 
guns, it was the [Black Panther Party’s] Free 
Children's Breakfast Program that was the 
greatest threat to the internal security of the United States of America."

The Panthers strived to meet the needs of the 
working-class people in their 
communities­something that capitalism is inherently unable and unwilling to do.

The decades-old Young case was reopened in 1999 
under the alleged discovery of "new" forensic 
evidence. Whatever rationale is used to justify 
the charges, however, the real motivation is undeniably political.

No amount of slander and smear has been 
sufficient to erase the legacy of resistance and 
struggle of the Black Panther Party.

Plagued by inconvenient revelations of torture 
during the first trial, state officials have 
decided to take another stab at locking up the 
Black activists, labeling them as "murderers" 
while shamelessly covering up the blood on their hands.

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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