[Pnews] Fund-raising effort for former Panther, political prisoner Chip Fitzgerald

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Apr 15 10:27:58 EDT 2016

Dear Friends and Family of Political Prisoners –

Chip Fitzgerald, one of the longest-held Black Panther political 
prisoners, will have a parole hearing in the upcoming months. Chip has 
been in prison for 47 years – since he was 19 years old.  As former 
political prisoners and allies, we have joined together to support Chip 
and other comrades still remaining inside. *We are asking for your 
support in raising money for an attorney to represent Chip at his parole 

Chip has a good chance of release because of changes in California 
parole law. Currently, people over the age of 65 who have served 25 
years or more are prioritized for release. The seriousness of the 
original offense is no longer enough to deny parole – “some evidence” of 
current dangerousness is required. And Chip’s age at the time of his 
arrest – just 19 – is a factor to be considered at his hearing. Chip has 
also suffered from a stroke, and has had no incident reports since 2008 
(when he was attacked by 2 young men and responded in self-defense).

Please join us in supporting this campaign to *FREE Chip Fitzgerald*, 
now 66 years old. Like all our political prisoners, he has continued to 
fight for justice from behind bars, and has had a positive influence on 
scores of young men in prison with him. We need him back in the 
community and with his family and comrades.

To support Chip at his parole hearing, please contribute here:


We appreciate your support for Chip and all U.S. political prisoners and 
prisoners-of-war – Free Them All!!!

In solidarity, (partial list)

Arthur LeagueFrancisco TorresAlbert Woodfox
Robert KingRichard BrownRay Boudreaux
Bruce RichardSherwin ForteManuel La Fontaine
Dorsey NunnSundiata TateDonna Willmott
Leslie MullinHarry CaryLinda Evans
Judith MirkinsonShirley HewittClaude Marks
Harold TaylorHank Jones

*About Chip Fitzgerald:*

Romaine “Chip” Fitzgerald was born and raised in Compton, California. 
Upon his release from the Youth Authority in early 1969, he joined the 
Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party.

  Bruce Richard, a former member of the Party’s Southern California 
Chapter with Chip, now a union executive, recalls:

“…Upon our release [from Youth Authority], we wasted no time joining the 
Black Panther Party. Chip worked tirelessly in various capacities in the 
Westside office of…the Chapter. To be a Panther was a 24/7 commitment, 
and every single day seemed like weeks due to the volume of activities 
during that explosive period. We were totally consumed in the Party’s 
Free Breakfast Program, the tutorial program, selling Panther papers, 
political education classes and other projects. Chip was a favorite of 
many in the communities we served, and the children, especially, loved 
him, reflected in their smiling little faces when he appeared….”

  In September 1969, Chip was wounded and arrested in connection with a 
police shoot-out. He was tried for assault on police and other, related 
charges, including the murder of a security guard. He was convicted and 
sentenced to death. He was 19 years old.

*“The Greatest Threat”*

This was immediately following the early 1969 announcement by infamous 
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover that “The Black Panther Party, without 
question, represents the greatest threat to the internal security of the 
country.” As documented by Huey P. Newton in his widely-acclaimed Ph.D. 
dissertation War Against the Panthers, A Study of Repression in America, 
Hoover then pledged to use a special counterintelligence program, 
COINTELPRO, to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise 
neutralize the activities of Black nationalists,” and, specifically 
targeted the Black Panther Party. Newton and other scholars document 
that, of the actions employed by the COINTELPRO program to carry out its 
agenda, 79% were “specifically directed toward destruction of the Party.”

In 1972, the California Supreme Court, in California v. Anderson, 
declared the death penalty unconstitutional, as a violation of the 
Eighth Amendment protection against “cruel or unusual punishments” and 
of the State’s constitutional ban against both. Along with nearly 100 
other men on death row at the time, Chip found his death sentence 
commuted to life, _with_ the possibility of parole. Today, however, 
unlike 98% of those on death row in 1972 who have been released, Chip 
languishes in prison still, incarcerated for 47 years now. In spite of 
his long and brutal incarceration, Chip’s dedication to the cause of the 
liberation of black and all oppressed people has not wavered.


Although Hoover identified the Party as a “threat to the internal 
security of the country,” he boldly stated that it was the Party’s Free 
Breakfast for Children program, not its weapons of self-defense, that 
made the Party so “dangerous.” Begun in the Party’s base in Oakland, 
California, the Free Breakfast Program grew across the nation with the 
rise of Party chapters during 1969, in over 40 states. Hoover charged 
that the Program was spreading revolutionary propaganda to all the 
hundreds of thousands of black families whose children participated in 
it, a dangerous development. Newton stated: “Since its inception, the 
Party [was] subject to a variety of actions by agencies and officers of 
the federal government intended to destroy it …precisely because of the 
Party’s political ideology and potential for organizing a sizable group 
of the country’s population that has been historically denied equal 
opportunity in employment, education, housing, and other recognized 
basic needs.”

It is well-documented that, at the end of 1969, under the direction of 
the FBI, Chicago police assassinated the Party’s Illinois chapter 
chairman Fred Hampton and leading member Mark Clark and Los Angeles 
police created its SWAT Team and raided the offices of the Party there, 
at one-location in a five-hour gun battle. This was the Party to which 
Chip belonged. He is a casualty of this war.

*The War Continues*

Chip’s incarceration cannot be viewed apart from this history of the 
FBI’s war against the Panthers. Chip is the definition of a political 
prisoner, and is the longest-held Black Panther Party political 
prisoner. Indeed, at his last parole hearing, in July 2008, he was 
vigorously challenged by a Board member about his political views, past 
and present, and summarily denied.

Just as Chip’s long incarceration is rooted in the political agenda of 
the State, his freedom is dependent upon political action. JOIN US to 
support Chip at his 2016 parole hearing.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org

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