The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2016) Movie Script

There's an old story
and it's used in various cultures,
where a group of blind men approach
an elephant
and try and describe him. The
first man approaches the elephant,
touches its side and says,
"It feels like a wall."
The next man touches the tusk
and says the elephant must be
like a spear.
Another blind man touches the trunk
and says, "It feels like a snake."
And that is quite often what happens
with our descriptions
of the Black Panther Party.
We know the party we were in
and not the entire thing.
We were making history,
and it wasn't nice and clean.
It wasn't easy, it was complex.
From Chicago, Illinois,
the mighty Chi-Lites.
# For God's sake, give more
power to the people
# There's some people up there
hoggin' everything... #
The thing that led to the Panthers
was what we were seeing on
television every day -
attack dogs, fire hoses, bombings.
We stand on the eve of a
black revolution, brothers.
Now we had the emergence of voices
within the community that
were saying we're not going to
continue to turn the other cheek.
You tell them white folk
in Mississippi
that all the scared
niggers are dead.
We want black power.
We want black power.
# For God's sake, give more
power to the people... #
This was a revolutionary time.
50 countries in the world gained
their independence in the decade
before the founding
of the Black Panther Party.
This is the time when people
are getting drafted to go
and fight in Vietnam.
So if somebody's coming and saying,
"Well, if you're going to fight,
"why not fight right here in
LA or Oakland?"
That made a lot of sense.
You couldn't be absent and
see what we saw.
We couldn't unsee it.
I was a cocktail waitress
in a white strip club
two years before I joined
the Black Panther Party.
How did that happen?
The rage was in the streets.
It was everywhere.
# Give more power to the people... #
We're not going to get nothing.
Not by sitting around here
doing these
sit-in demonstrations or nothing.
People not going to do anything...
Well, how are we going to do it?
By violence. Violence.
Uprising and having a revolution...
with blood, you know?
Let everybody bleed a little bit.
NEWS REPORTER: Relations between
police and negroes
throughout the country
are getting worse.
One of the city's most
troubled by animosity between
police and negroes is
Oakland, California.
People always talked about freedom
and what that means.
During that time period being
black in America meant you didn't
walk down the street with
the same sense of safety
and the same sense of privilege
as a white person.
There was absolutely no difference
in the way the police treated us
in Mississippi than they did
in California.
They may not have called you
nigger everyday,
but they treated you the same way
they did in Mississippi.
Police jump on you, beat you up,
put the gun at your head.
This is what we were going
through on a daily basis.
When I first met Huey and Bobby
they were in the process of forming
an organisation for primarily
We didn't plan to have a nationwide
organisation or anything like that.
We were organising and dealing with
the problems in Oakland.
We use the black panther
as our symbol
because the nature of a panther.
A panther doesn't strike anyone,
but when he's assailed upon
he'll back up first,
but if the aggressor continues
then he'll strike out.
Huey had studied the law.
In Oakland at that particular time
anyone could carry a firearm
who did not have
a felony conviction at the time.
The firearm could not be concealed,
it had to be in the open.
The California penal code
section 12,020 through 12,027,
and also the Second Amendment
of the Constitution guarantees
the citizen a right to bear arms
on public property.
Huey said we're going
to carry our guns
and we're going to
follow the police,
and if they stop someone
we're going to stop,
we're going to maintain a legal
distance and we're going to
observe these so-called law officers
in the performance of their duties.
We were in the car and
driving around and having fun.
We would be looking at the pretty
woman and chasing the sisters.
Then something might happen,
and then all of the sudden,
the focus would just become serious.
We're coming around the corner,
basically where you are.
We would stop,
we would get out of the cars,
we would walk up to the scene.
Those who had rifles would carry
them in the open, clearly visible.
We would stand at a distance where
the police couldn't say we were
interfering with their arrest or
their detention of the individual,
and make sure that
there was no brutality.
We stood back with our weapons,
ready to throw down if necessary.
They would take the weapon
and pass it across like this,
and it would sweep right
over the officer.
No-one would do anything
until a policeman ejected
a round in the chamber.
Then we would all eject
rounds in the chamber.
And all up and down the street
you could hear this clackety-clack,
clack, clack, clack.
And then when the traffic stop
or the incident's over,
they'd bring the weapon down
across by you like this
and get back in their car
and drive off.
It was pretty intimidating.
We referred to ourselves
as the vanguard.
And we were setting, by example,
a new course that we wanted
the entire community to follow.
No-one wants to touch
the legitimate hunter,
but we've got to protect society
from nuts with the guns.
When bands of armed people with
loaded weapons can
move about our streets, intimidating
and frightening citizens,
then I think we should act,
and we intend to act.
It's my intention to make it
a misdemeanour to have
loaded rifles and shotguns
and weapons in public places.
The police department had went
to a local congressmen
to get a bill written.
So Huey called me up and said,
"We have to go to Sacramento."
It was conceived as a
media event that the press
is always at the
California State Capitol.
No-one really wanted
Huey himself to go
because Huey was kind of
a quick-tempered firebrand.
Bobby was a little more cautious.
And it was like,
"Look, you've been great so far,
"but you might blow it up there,
"and bad things could happen."
We caravanned to Sacramento.
I think there were about 30 of us
like altogether,
and most of us had some weapon.
We were on the State Capitol on
the lawn and Ronald Reagan,
then the governor of the
State of California, was there,
about ten feet away from us,
holding a press conference with
these young, parochial schoolkids.
And what happened was
as soon as the press seen us
they gravitated from Ronald Reagan
over to where the Panthers was.
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,
racist police agencies throughout
the country are intensifying
the terror, brutality, murder
and repression of black people.
The State Assembly
was in the midst of a heated debate
when the young negroes, armed with
loaded rifles, shotguns and pistols,
marched into the Capitol.
When we got in the halls,
you have to imagine
there's 100 cameras,
still cameras, print media people,
backing up and I'm saying,
"Where is the spectators' section?"
And the press is saying,
"This way, Bobby."
Some party members got ahead of me
with shotguns, pistols,
and went up on the actual floor
of the California State Legislature.
They're heavily armed.
Whether their weapons are loaded
or not nobody seems to know.
The armed group, who said they were
members of the Black Panther Party,
retreated to a service station
several blocks from the Capitol.
I remember this one cop
came by on a motorcycle
and he seen all these guns
and he got on the...thing.
And that's when they started to
swoop down on us from everywhere.
You have no right to
take my gun away from me.
You don't know the Constitution
right? Sure we do.
I'm well aware of the Constitution.
I would like to have my gun back.
Why do you believe legislature
is racist?
Don't you know? You're a part of it.
It's a white system.
The news got to everyone
in the black community
who had a television,
everyone who had a radio.
It was in every newspaper
across the nation.
It put us on centre stage.
I don't think that loaded guns
is the way to solve a problem
that should be solved
between people of goodwill.
And anyone who would approve of
this kind of demonstration
must be out of their mind.
When I heard about Sacramento
I was like,
"Damn, these brothers are bad.
"They're here up in Sacramento
in the Capitol...packing?"
The boldness, the courageousness
about it,
the arrogance of it.
That put a whole new face on things.
I said, "Man, I want to be
a part of this. Whatever that is."
Yeah, I walked into the office
and told them
I wanted to join
the Black Panther Party,
and they kind of laughed.
I didn't know that there
weren't any other women
in the party at that time.
But then I asked them,
"Could I have a gun?"
I was a student at Lincoln
University outside Philly
when I first heard
about the Black Panther Party.
I found my friend, John Huggins,
and I said, "We need to leave this
stupid campus. We have work to do."
We got in John Huggins'
little hoopty car,
we drove across the country
from New York,
and when we got to the West Coast
we joined the Black Panther Party.
What we want, what we believe.
Point number one - we want freedom.
We want decent housing.
We want an education for our people.
We want an immediate end
to police brutality.
People joined for all
kinds of reasons,
but the Panthers had a ten-point
platform programme that really was
sort of like the fundamental
organising tool
and orientation tool.
The civil rights movement was
basically a southern movement.
So when you had an organisation
like the Panthers, who were
taking on things like housing
and welfare and health,
that was stuff the people
in the north could relate to
and rally behind.
Our attack was not
only against white supremacy,
but it was also about capitalism.
We actually thought that the way
in which capitalism created
a working-class
that was kept absolutely
destitute, that was wrong.
So we took the position
that in order for us to be free
that system had to be dismantled.
We cannot be free in a system that
had oppressed us in the first place.
So you have to get
rid of that system.
We were not after the church folks,
we were not after the Muslim folks.
We wanted the brother on the corner,
the brother who was getting his head
banged every weekend by the police.
We wanted the brother
who was going to jail,
just snatched out of his car for
a traffic ticket cos he was black.
That's who we were after.
We would get calls from Atlanta,
Nashville, Raleigh, North Carolina,
Washington DC,
Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Every city, small or large,
you can think of wanted a chapter
of the Black Panther Party.
We would send members
of the organisation
to help connect them to us.
But it was destabilising in
the sense it was somewhat chaotic
the way the party was growing,
and it was too fast and too big.
There was no screening process.
There was no, "Why are you here?
"What do you expect to have happen
while you're here?
"What are you trying to accomplish?"
There was none of that.
Members came from, whoever
just came in off the street.
The downside, of course, was
we had no idea who
any of these people were.
We didn't have time
for a whole lot of,
"Who are you, what are you doing?
"You want to do this? Fine, go."
This week on Firing Line, my guest
is Mr Eldridge Cleaver,
the information minister of
the Black Panthers.
Eldridge Cleaver comes out with
this book, Soul On Ice,
a series of his essays from prison,
and the New York Times says
that it's brilliant,
it gets onto the bestseller list.
So when Eldridge joined
the Panthers,
the Panthers had gotten themselves
a star, a literary star.
I've been called by
the National Review
"The Goebbels of the
Black Panther Party."
And all of this is an attempt
to undermine the party or
to give it a bad presentation
to the public.
Huey Newton always had this vision,
he was the visionary of the party.
Bobby Seale, he had the personality,
Eldridge Cleaver was the person
who made the party
credible to black intellectuals,
to the white left intellectuals.
All of them loved Eldridge Cleaver.
They understood what
he was talking about,
or at least they thought they did.
Eldridge had this incredible ability
to encapsulate a thought in
a few sentences and form it into
an artistic statement that pointed,
stabbed right into
the heart of the enemy.
And he did that all of the time.
Now, was he always correct? No.
I say that Ronald Reagan is
a punk, a sissy and a coward,
and I challenge him to a duel.
I challenge him.
I challenge
him to a duel to the death,
or until he says "Uncle Eldridge."
Was he insane?
Fuck, yeah! That boy was crazy.
And he got a lot of people hurt.
And I give him his choice of weapon.
He can use a gun, a knife,
a baseball bat or a marshmallow,
and I'll beat him
to death with a marshmallow.
That's how I feel about him, see?
I said, "They're not going
to be able to control Eldridge."
Eldridge was a rottweiler,
uncontrollable personality.
Who could be in an organisation with
Eldridge and he not be the leader?
And that's basically
how it ended up.
A pool of blood marks the spot
where 23-year-old officer John Frey
was found fatally
wounded from four gunshots.
The shooting happened at 5am
approximately where I'm standing
on 7th Street in the heart
of Oakland's negro ghetto.
The suspect, charged with murder and
attempted murder, is Huey Newton -
25-year-old leader of the
Black Panthers For Self-Defense.
Newton is hospitalised in serious
condition and under heavy guard.
We went up to Highland Hospital,
and it looked like
every police in America was there.
We didn't know for sure
if Huey was dead or alive.
We didn't sleep that night.
Nobody slept then, I don't think.
As he was handcuffed to a gurney,
going into surgery,
he was arrested for murder
and expected to face execution.
A lot of the other
Panthers were in jail
because of the protest
that they'd done in Sacramento,
so Eldridge was the only
available spokesperson
for the Black Panther Party.
The Black Panther Party demands
that Huey P Newton be set free.
And we wish to make it
very clear that
if he is not set free
there is little hope of avoiding
open armed war in
the streets of California,
and sweeping across this nation.
We said, "Well, Huey's in jail,
he's facing the death penalty.
"What can we do?"
I think the initial slogan was,
"Huey must be set free."
Eventually it got shortened to,
"Free Huey."
# Black is beautiful
# Free Huey
# Set our warrior free
# Free Huey
# Black is beautiful
# Free Huey
# Set our warrior free
# Free Huey... #
It became a huge movement.
# ..Free Huey
# Set our warrior free
# Free Huey
# Black is beautiful
# Free Huey
# Set our warrior free
# Free Huey
# Black is beautiful
# Free Huey
# Set our warrior free... #
Today there were a number of
Free Huey Newton
rallies across the nation...
You did not have to be
a member of the Black Panther Party,
all you had to be
was a human being.
People of all kinds took up
that cry for Huey.
Free Huey! Frey Huey!
The Examiner made a report back here
in the last Sunday's paper
that we were anti-white,
that we "Hold no bones," -
this is a quote - "Hold no
bones about being anti-white."
This is a bald-faced lie.
We don't hate nobody because of
their colour.
We hate oppression,
we hate murder of black people
in our communities.
People just turned out.
They wanted to help us,
they wanted to give us money,
they wanted us to come speak.
There was this gathering
of connection
to the Black Panthers that was
different to before.
# We got to free Huey
# We got to free Huey
# We got to free Huey
# We got to free Huey
# Everybody
# We got to free Huey
# We got to free Huey
# We got to free Huey... #
We were a phenomenon.
The way that we walked and talked
and dressed.
We had swagger.
# We got to free Huey
# We got to free Huey... #
It was a rhythm.
It was a rhythm to how we spoke,
it was a rhythm to how we walked,
and the people recognised
that we stood out.
Outside of that on the street
they'd probably think,
"Oh, that's a butt-ugly person.
Oh, they ugly."
But in the party it was just
something that gave them
this tremendous sex appeal.
THEY CHANT: Free Huey!
The Panthers didn't invent
the idea of black is beautiful.
People had started wearing afros
and dashikis.
One of the things the Panthers did
was that URBAN black is beautiful.
And that look just
blew people away.
If you were a young black man
living in the city anywhere,
you wanted to be like this.
You wanted to dress like this,
you wanted to act like this,
you wanted to talk like this,
you wanted to be this.
The standard of aggressiveness,
of militants,
of just forcefulness of the sort of
standard we haven't had in the past.
THEY SHOUTHEY CHANT: Free Huey! Free Huey!
But figuratively speaking you're
not about to become a Panther?
No, not today or tomorrow,
at any rate.
Maybe the day after.
# Am I black enough for you?
# Am I black enough for you...? #
This brother here, myself,
all of us,
we're born with our hair like this
and we just wear it like this.
The reason for it, you might say, is
a new awareness among black people
that their own natural
physical appearance is beautiful.
Black people are aware now,
they're proud of it.
It's pleasing to them. Dig it?
Isn't it beautiful? All right.
# ..We gotta get rid of poverty
# I got to stay black
Black enough for you
# We're gonna move on up
# Four by four
# We ain't never gonna
suffer no more
# I got to stay black
Black enough for you... #
You're talking about people
who were teenagers.
17, 18, 19, 20.
That's bulk of the Panthers
are teenagers.
So the fact that
we were so young
and the fact that this
hadn't happened before,
I'm not certain we recognised how
startling it looked to other people.
Dear, Mr Newton,
I'm a 13-year-old black girl
and I want to be a Black Panther.
I wish you would fill me in.
Does it matter what
your religion is?
What are some qualifications
to be a Black Panther?
PS, write me back personally.
I was taught to be proper.
Behave yourself,
if you're going out in public
to always know that
the white man was listening.
With the Black Panthers
coming to the scene
it was just a completely
different message.
As a 12-year-old, you know, "What?"
You had this whole other
portrayal of self,
and just digging it.
# ..We gotta move on up
# Eight by eight
# Without no witness
# We ain't too late... #
Photographers took advantage.
I mean, they took our pictures,
they put them on newspapers,
they put them on magazines.
And that look that we projected,
you know, the big afro,
the leather jacket, the shades,
that became a hit.
And obviously photographers were
drawn to the Panthers.
Well, we hear a great deal
about the Black Panthers...
Black Panthers... Black Panthers...
Black Panthers...
The Black Panthers
were absolutely unique.
The Black Panthers...
The Black Panthers...
The Black Panthers...
The Black Panther Party...
The Black Panthers movement...
Black Panther Party...
The Black Panthers...
I think the Black Panthers really
understood the media.
They knew what we were after,
they knew what we were focusing on.
The Panthers has amounted to...
The Black Panther Party...
Many people know of the Panthers...
You might say we exploited
the Black Panthers, but I think
there's a lot of evidence that
they used us to their advantage.
They were able to establish their
legitimacy as a voice of protest.
The chairman of the Black Panther
Party, and here he is.
We have a film of your
breakfast programme.
Is this without sound also?
Yeah, I think so.
All right, will you comment
on this? Yes, I will.
This is a free breakfast
for children programme,
and they're preparing the food there
early in the morning.
It's about two hours'
work in the morning.
These Party members primarily
set this whole programme up,
and then we get involved as many
of the community people as we can.
Come on in, little fella,
come on in, little sister.
Sit down and get something to eat.
Studies came out saying that
children that didn't
have a good breakfast in the morning
were less attentive at school
and less inclined to do well
and suffered from fatigue.
I mean, there was all sorts
of scientific reasons to have
a good breakfast in the morning.
And we just simply took
that information
and a programme was developed
serving breakfast to children.
After my father came home
from Vietnam and was discharged from
the army and couldn't get work
we were going through
a very hard time.
Food was kind of, you know, just
the everyday necessities were hard.
I was embarrassed to go,
but when you went, you know,
kids are all laughing.
And then all of sudden
the stigma, or whatever you
thought was a stigma, went away,
and you really got to see that,
yes, this is what
the Black Panthers are.
We was showing love for our people.
If you have a child
and you know that
"Hey, these men and women are going
to feed my child in the morning."
That's a big deal.
The breakfast programme actually
really caught on.
It served about 20,000 meals a week
to young people in
19 different communities.
So it wasn't a fly-by-night thing,
it really, actually,
was making a difference.
Just at the moment that
the Panthers are turning towards
survival programmes,
towards free breakfast programmes,
free clinics and
free food programmes
that will help them reconnect with
the black community and build
their membership,
and repudiating
this earlier advocacy
of armed self-defence
and police patrols,
J Edgar Hoover attacks the Panthers.
Hoover saw any form of
black organising as a threat
to the status quo, as he saw it.
Change that would have involved
equality, would have put power
in black people's hands,
was very much a threat to Hoover.
He started something called
directed against what he called
black nationalist hate groups.
Cointelpro was the abbreviation
of Counterintelligence Programme.
"The purpose of this new
counterintelligence endeavour
"is to expose, disrupt,
misdirect, discredit
"or otherwise neutralise the
activities of black nationalists.
"Neutralise" could mean
making somebody an informant
or putting somebody in jail
or having somebody killed.
Hoover was sending letters
to various offices,
almost on a weekly basis, to come up
with new ideas to go after
members of the Black Panther Party.
245 of the 290 Cointelpro actions
were against the Black Panthers.
One of the mandates was,
"Do not make this programme public.
"Do not tell anybody
that it exists."
FBI has a memo that states
the objectives of
counterintelligence operations.
One is to prevent the rise of what
they call the black "messiah" -
a single, charismatic leader that
could unify the movement.
They wanted to prevent the appeal
of radical political movement
to black youths.
And they wanted to isolate these
groups to prevent them
from gaining respectability
in the black community.
And they were very explicit
in stating these goals.
We were followed every day,
we were harassed,
our phones were tapped,
our families were harassed.
My parents were both
visited by the FBI.
"We must create suspicion with
respect to their respective spouses,
"and your imagination
and resourcefulness must be employed
"in order for the Bureau
to be successful."
They would send letters to my wife,
and the letters would say that
Landon is sleeping with this woman
or sleeping with that women
or sleeping with the other woman.
Then when I got arrested
the FBI came to me
and said, "Ah, look, we've got
all this evidence.
"All these people are going to
flip and turn on you.
"We're going to execute you.
"Cos we've got you now,
we're going to execute you.
But if you will be an informant
for us, then we'll let you go.
My recruitment by the FBI
was very efficient.
Very simple, really.
I'd stole a car and went with
joyriding over the state limit,
and they had a potential
case against me
and I was looking for an
opportunity to work it off.
And a couple of months later
that opportunity came
when FBI Agent Roy Mitchell
asked me to go down to
the local office of
the Black Panther Party
and try to gain membership.
The FBI wanted to destroy
the Panthers.
They absolutely saw the Panthers
as the vanguard of a very, very
threatening and violent
revolutionary movement.
They absolutely wanted this
organisation to be destroyed.
The FBI was coming round
to my mother-in-law, my wife,
and for me to stop that kind
of activity, I stopped going home,
and a lot of other people did also,
to protect their families.
You could kind of, in a sense,
say we abandoned our families
for the Panther Party.
You might have a three-bedroom
apartment that might
have ten Panthers staying there,
sharing bedrooms.
The living room was basically
also a bedroom.
We called them Panther pads.
Somebody would be on 24-hour
security, someone was responsible
for cleaning the place, often it was
a rotating list of responsibilities.
It was a sense of community
that we created.
The rank and file was
the everyday members
that did the daily work
of the party.
They were the ones that
made the party -
the backbreakers,
the ones you put all the work on.
# Cos we know
# We got to live together
# We know
# We got to love each other... #
The Panthers realised we have
to live together to protect
one another.
We have to also be committed
to this thing,
to this cause,
to this movement, 24 hours a day.
The rank and file,
whatever orders that
came down for our captains
and lieutenants, we did that
because that spirit was in us
to stay in this movement
to our death,
or if it meant going to jail.
So whatever they told us
to do, we did it.
# ..Live together
# Love each other
# Stay together... #
I was in labour, cooking breakfast
for the breakfast programme.
So I was, between contractions,
flipping pancakes.
I would spend all the day answering
the phones, even after I had my son.
When I came back to work
I used to have to
jump him up and down
really heavy,
cos he just wouldn't stop crying
as I'm answering the phone.
You name it.
I cleaned freezers with a toothpick.
And that's how I'd answer the phone.
"Black Panther Party
national headquarters.
"Black Panther Party central
headquarters, can I help you?"
One of the ironies of the
Black Panther Party is that
the image is the black male
with the jacket and the gun,
but the reality is that the majority
of the rank and file
by the end of the '60s are women.
Everybody knows that all the people
don't have liberties,
all the people don't have freedom,
all the people don't have justice
and all the people don't have power.
So that means none of us do!
The Black Panther Party
certainly had a chauvinist tone,
and so we tried to change some of
the clear gender roles,
so that women had guns and men
cooked breakfast for children.
Did we ever overcome it?
Of course we didn't.
As I liked to say,
"We didn't get these brothers
from revolutionary heaven."
Black Panther Paper.
The paper was the lifeblood
of the party.
That's how we survived.
We sold the papers, 25 cents
back then,
it cost maybe 12 cents to print it,
the other 12.5 cents went to the
various chapters and branches, and
that's how we basically survived.
The party paper went places party
members would never get to go to,
and reaching people
we would never see.
But the paper got there,
some kind of way or other.
So it was very important
to get the paper out.
Los Angeles, 2,850.
New Haven, 3,000.
When we were loading boxes
and bundling papers or whatever
we were doing, we did it
in an assembly-line fashion.
And we would just start singing.
# Ain't no mountain high enough
# Ain't no valley low enough
# To keep me from getting
this paper to you. #
Or whatever we would do.
We would change the lyrics
just a little bit.
# It's your thing
# Do what you wanna do
# Whitey can't tell me what the... #
And then we'd...what to do.
Decent housing fit for
shelter of human beings.
In the paper everything
came together.
We had the platform,
the ten-point platform was in there.
It was the first thing you see
when you open up the paper.
We want an end to the robbery by the
white man of our black community.
That's what we're talking about,
like number three.
Number four, "We want decent housing
fit to shelter human beings."
You dig? And then we got...
It explained who we were and what
we were about, what our goals were.
Tell me, ma'am, do you read the
Black Panther Party newspaper?
Yes, I do.
Why? Because I'm black
and I'm proud.
What do you like best
about the paper?
Because they are a proud people
and I love them.
# Black is you, black is me,
black is us, black is free
# Black is me, black is me,
black is us, black is free
# Black is us, black is me,
black is us, black is free
# Black is free, black is me,
black is us, black is free... #
For me there was only one reason
to read the Panther newspaper
and that was to see
Emory's illustrations.
His paintings, his caricatures,
his illustrations literally
gave us the story.
# ..Black is you, black is me,
black is us, black is free
# Black is me, black is me,
black is us, black is free
# Black is us, black is me,
black is us, black is free... #
The community would
respond to the artwork
because it was a reflection of them
in the artwork itself.
Because you're putting them
on the stage as the characters
and heroes in the images.
They could see their brother,
or they could see their uncle,
in the images.
Through the breakfast programmes,
through the other programmes that
we had to help black youth,
people come in and talk about how
they can't pay their bills,
or they need childcare.
That teardrop symbolised
that pain that I observed.
Even through that pain, there was
the strength and determination
and conviction to still battle on.
So, I was trying to put
that into the artwork itself.
Emory was our social realism.
He gave you a sense of bravery,
resilience, courage
and, most of all, beauty.
That was what I loved about Emory.
It was Huey and Bobby's ideal
to draw a pig, uh, drawing
that would symbolise the police,
so the first pig I did was one
on the four hooves.
It just came to me one night, "Why
don't I stand it up on two hooves?"
I put a bandolier gun,
bandolier with a holster
and a badge, and the flies
around it, and that became
the symbol, the icon of the pig.
It took on a life of its own.
THEY CHAN# Off the pigs
Time to pick up the gun
# Off the pigs... #
That rhetoric didn't bother us
when it was spoken by the Panthers.
# ..Power to the people
Off the pigs
# Power to the people
Off the pigs... #
But when it was picked up
by college students,
them saying it,
that definitely bothered us.
# ..Off the pigs
Off the pigs
# Power to the people
Off the pigs
# Power to the people
# Off the pigs... #
I was a sergeant,
patrolling in the projects,
and there was a...cutest
little girl,
so I stopped to say hello,
and I said, "Hi, honey,
how are you doing today?"
And she looked at me
and she said, "Fuck you, pig."
And I thought, "We have lost it,
man, we have flat lost it."
Anybody that criticised the police,
especially that didn't have
fear of saying it publicly,
made the police angry.
It was us against them.
That became the theme.
We have seen the pig on the scene.
We know what he's like.
We know what he's capable of.
Just being a damn pig,
oinking and beating,
and walking the street.
The police must be brought under
control by any means necessary,
including through force of arms.
These racist, Gestapo pigs
have to stop brutalising
our community, or we're going
to take up guns,
we're going to drive them out.
That tendency to keep
escalating the rhetoric,
that was a major part of
the growth of the party,
but it was also a destructive force,
because you were always
upping the ante.
# I said gun,
pick up the gun
# Pick up the gun
and put the pigs on the ground
# Pick up the gun... #
It brought all
the repression down on them
before they were prepared
to handle it.
I just want to deal with black
and black liberation.
My scene is picking up my damn gun
and I'm a mother.
Have my baby in one hand,
my gun in the other,
and then I'm here, motherfucker,
to get what's mine.
The voice that called for justice
and brotherhood has been stilled.
Men of all races now must
join together
in this hour to deny violence
its victory,
and to fulfil the vision
of brotherhood.
The effect of the death of
Martin Luther King on the Panthers
was overwhelming,
in the sense that...
..once King was assassinated,
and the way he was assassinated
so publicly,
it shattered many, many people.
They'd killed their last chance
for me to be peaceful with them.
They had killed their last
chance for negotiation.
They killed the man who walked
through hell to try to
get along with you -
and you kill him?!
That was our champion.
You killed whatever hope
I had in you.
And I have no more use for you.
I believe that there was a decision
made that some response on the
part of the Black Panther Party has
to be made to what happened to King.
Eldridge Cleaver was worried that
if the Panthers didn't take
decisive action,
they would cease to be the vanguard,
so he had this idea of actually
actively attacking the police.
He goes and he approaches
members of the party in Oakland,
and all of the older people
refused to participate.
They knew that this would be
suicide, but the youngest member of
the party, Little Bobby Hutton,
decides to follow Eldridge
into battle.
Little Bobby called me.
"Big man, I need a weapon."
I gave him a Winchester
12-gauge pump shotgun
that I had and I told him,
"Well, be careful out there,
you know? Watch yourself."
And he said, "OK, I will."
And he left.
And then, first thing
in the morning,
I have the radio on.
The Oakland Police stated that they
were fired upon during a routine
investigation of a suspicious
person, and after a short search,
cornered Hutton and Eldridge Cleaver
in the basement of a nearby house.
A tear gas canister
blew up and the basement
they were hiding in caught on fire.
They decided they didn't want
to burn to death -
they would rather surrender.
Eldridge told Bobby Hutton
to take off all your clothes,
so they can't say you're
concealing a weapon.
When you surrender,
take off everything.
But Bobby was embarrassed
and he just took off his shirt.
And he kept on his pants.
Bobby Hutton came out
with his hands in the air.
First member who walked out of
the house and was gunned down.
My heart sank.
He's only 17 years old,
and one of the first people
to get killed in the party,
and so young.
In essence, I felt that, man,
I got my little brother killed.
What if I had not given him
the weapon?
Those are some of the demons
that, uh...
..were in my closet.
Shot down like a common animal, he
died a warrior for black liberation.
In the name of brotherhood
and survival, remember Bobby.
That could have been my son
lying there.
And I'm going to do
as much as I can.
I'm going to start right now... inform white people
of what they don't know.
For the Black Panther Party,
it was crisis and chaos,
because this was the first time
that this had ever happened.
There had been no Panther
murdered by police.
We want non-violence,
just like Martin Luther King.
But non-violence on the part of who?
To sit and watch ourselves be
slaughtered, like our brother?
We must defend ourselves.
As Malcolm X said,
"By any means necessary".
After the loss of Bobby Hutton,
Eldridge was ordered to
surrender to
the San Francisco police
to go back to prison.
But on November 28, 1968,
he didn't turn himself in
and...he was...
..not to be found.
Mrs Cleaver, do you know where
your husband is? No.
When was the last time you saw him?
Sunday night.
It's rumoured that Eldridge
is out of the country.
Do you think this is possible?
No, I don't think so.
And so the mystery remains.
Where is Eldridge Cleaver?
It's entirely possible that his wife
and lawyer really do not know.
For the law, he is simply
a fugitive from justice.
He had gone to Algeria.
There's nothing the United States
government can do to us in Algeria.
They don't have diplomatic
relations with Algeria.
We could function openly,
politically, in Algeria,
so we opened our international
section of the Black Panther Party.
The Black Panthers were welcomed by
all sorts of liberation movements.
The North Vietnamese, who were
moving into a newer embassy,
gave their old embassy to the
Panthers, and the Black Panthers,
of course,
loved being accepted like this.
In Eldridge Cleaver's successful
attempt to establish an
international wing, he's able to do
some things that are very important.
Malcolm X and other black
nationalists had talked about
forging those types of alliances.
The Panthers actually did it.
He wishes you victory
in your struggle.
And we hope to receive you
in liberated Saigon.
Tell him I hope to receive them
in Washington DC.
At that time, America was being
demonised considerably
because of the war in Vietnam,
so here we are, black Americans,
who are opposed to all of this,
we're the counter to
the United States.
We were able to connect
with North Koreans,
with Vietnamese, with the Chinese,
and with also many African
liberation movements,
and many people came
to see us there.
We came over here to do what
we can to communicate to you
what's happening in our struggle
in the United States.
I think a lot of what draws these
groups together is
a kind of anti-American sentiment.
If you want to really shake
the American establishment,
you want them
to think that they are in danger,
that a revolutionary
new world is on its way.
The Panthers are certainly the
people you're going to support.
Since the United States of America
is the backbone of oppression
in the world,
the blows that we strike
against the empire there
will also aid the liberation
struggles in Africa,
Asia, North America,
as we aid ourselves.
Face The Nation, a spontaneous
and unrehearsed news interview
with the chief of staff of the
Black Panther Party, David Hillier.
Your Minister Of Information is now
in exile, Eldridge Cleaver.
You speak with him often
on the phone, is that correct?
Well, you know I do.
They tapped the phones.
The phone is probably hooked-up
through the White House.
The leaders of the party,
its national leadership,
sits with David Hillier.
Bobby Seale is in and out of prison,
Huey Newton is in jail, at this
point for a number of years,
and Eldridge Cleaver is in Algeria.
David was someone
who was considered,
a, um... could say he was
a sound storekeeper.
He kept the shop in order.
Richard Nixon is the chief
spokesman of the American people,
and if the man is not
responsible for the people
in government, like the FBI agencies
or the local police,
then he should stand up
and let the American people
know that he does not endorse
the kind of campaigns that have been
waged against black...
Nixon is elected with
a sense of a mandate
to crack down, and he feels that
it is his personal charge,
after the '68 election,
to repress.
This is a nation of law,
and as Abraham Lincoln has said,
"No-one is above the law,
no-one is below the law",
and we're going to enforce the law,
and Americans should remember
that if we're going to have
law and order.
The Nixon administration
gives J Edgar Hoover
even more of a sense
that he can repress
without restriction.
Do you feel the nation
is in trouble?
I think, very definitely, it is.
What is the answer?
The answer is vigorous
law enforcement.
That's the only answer? That's
the only answer. How about justice?
You hear a lot about justice
with law enforcement.
Justice is merely incidental
to law and order.
FBI director J Edgar Hoover today
asserted that the Black Panthers
represent the greatest
internal threat to the nation.
Hoover said the Panthers have
perpetrated numerous
assaults on police and have
engaged in violent confrontations
throughout the country.
When Hoover identified the Black
Panther Party as the number-one
threat to the national security
of the United States
at a time when they're fighting
in Vietnam, you know,
of course that was...crazy, but it
was politically very effective.
And it says to law enforcement
at the local level,
we can take the gloves off now.
We don't have to respect
the civil liberties
and we can go after them
with everything we got.
One of the executive
orders of the Panther Party
was that we was to defend
ourselves from unwarranted attacks.
To not allow the police to just
forcibly come in.
Yes, tear gas is on. Here's
your water and your, er, mask.
Keep this on you. OK.
Nobody coming in the front door.
Nobody. Nobody getting on the roof,
you hear? Sure enough.
I just wish they WOULD come tonight.
Yeah, I want them to come.
The Panthers were a criminal
organisation, were violent,
and they wanted to kill cops.
That's all I needed to know.
NEWSREEL: About 40 policemen
arrived on the scene
and began surrounding
the Black Panther headquarters.
They were trying to change
government as we know it
to terrorist activity.
We took a very proactive stance
in combating
what we considered
a terrorist organisation.
I think the FBI manipulated
the police.
The FBI arranged for
the Black Panthers to get guns.
Through informants,
they would convince the police
that the Panthers had weapons.
They had to go in
and be ready to be shot at,
so the police went in
and shot at them first.
You'd hear about raids taking place
against Black Panther officers.
They were coming to kill us.
NEWSREEL: Police say there was
sniper fire throughout
the early-morning hours
so they moved in cautiously
and then began shooting.
The Black Panther/police shoot-out
lasted 30 minutes.
It was obvious that the Government
had made a decision that
this was all-out attack
on the Black Panther Party.
Every significant office is going
to be raided, is going
to be bombed, is going to be shot,
there are going to be mass arrests.
NEWSREEL: In the predawn hours
in Chicago today,
police and negroes fought a...
Police and Black Panthers
clash in Houston, New Orleans
and other cities.
For the Black Panther Party, it was a
crisis situation, because we didn't
have the resources to handle all
these arrests and all these trials.
In other cities, er, the Panthers
were under physical attack,
er, from police departments.
But New York City
was going to handle
its Panther problem differently.
They created a conspiracy case
that allowed them to arrest
the entire leadership of the
New York City Black Panther Party.
A New York grand jury has
indicted 21 alleged
Black Panthers on charges
of plotting several bombings
in the city tomorrow.
On April 2nd, 1969,
in predawn raids,
21 Black Panthers were charged with
all kinds of terrorist activity.
NEWSREEL: These are some of the men
the police are accusing of being
involved in the plot,
which could have wounded or killed
scores of busy New Yorkers.
12 men were arrested today,
two are already in jail
and seven more are still at large.
And so the Panther 21 started.
I had just turned 16 years old but I
had already become a section leader.
When they first kicked in the door
of my grandmother's house
at four o'clock
in the morning I thought,
"Wow, I'm important enough to be
arrested, I'm a real Panther now."
There was a feeling that
it was a badge of honour.
This group, 21 people,
was the leadership of the New York
area, all tied up in court
with $100,000 bails,
which none of them could make.
We were facing 360-plus years
in prison.
And I began to feel
and accept the fact
that I was going to spend
the rest of my life in prison.
The Black Panther Party is
riddled with informers
who are intent on creating
situations in order to bring forth
such indictments in an attempt
to destroy...
Are you saying that they tried to
frame them? No question about it.
I mean, I told the jury that maybe
the police started the party.
CROWD CHANPeople who come back to New York are
going to work full-time
until the Panther 21
and the people accused
are allowed to get a fair trial.
We spent a lot of time building
awareness and doing fundraisers,
and then we had to have
high-profile fundraisers
because this kind of money
that we needed
couldn't come from
the black community.
We would wind up doing fundraisers
at places like
Jane Fonda's townhouse
so that we could raise money
for the legal defence fund.
After a 13-month trial,
where the New York State
spent millions of dollars
and put dozens of witnesses
and hundreds of pieces of evidence,
a jury deliberated for three hours.
The jury have considered
all of the counts and charges
against the defendants
and have found them not guilty.
Power to the people!
There were 156 not-guilty verdicts.
That is astonishing.
The courtroom erupted.
The city erupted.
There were people dancing
in the streets as word spread.
Even as the New York 21
are being acquitted,
you're seeing smaller trials,
other trials, pop up,
really, all over the country.
Some of them result in acquittals,
some of them result in convictions,
but this really consumes
most of the party's energy.
People were afraid to join.
They knew that it was infiltrated.
They knew that they would be
watched immediately.
They were afraid of
being prosecuted unjustly.
Nobody wants to go near
such an organisation that's so hot.
I was part of planning
a demonstration against Vietnam
at the 1968 Democratic
Convention in Chicago.
Bobby Seale was invited to speak.
The revolution in this country
at the time is, in fact,
people coming forth
to demand freedom.
He then left and didn't
have anything to do with
the demonstrations or riots
or confrontations in Chicago,
but he was arrested
on the advice of the FBI
and he was later indicted
for that speech.
Bobby Seale asked to have his...
to postpone the trial
until his lawyer Charles Garry
could come to Chicago.
The judge refused and then Bobby
said, "Well, I'll present myself."
It started when Seale demanded to
cross-examine a prosecution witness,
accusing the judge of
denying his constitutional rights
to defend himself.
The judge ordered him
to sit down and be quiet
but the fiery Black Panther leader
continued to cry out.
The judge told
the marshals to hold him there
and that started
several days of insanity.
This judge is a liar,
and we have a right to defend,
and if you attack me,
I'll represent myself.
He kept insisting
on his right to represent himself
and the judge's response to that
was to order the bailiffs to
put gaffer tape over his mouth
and tie him to his chair.
I mean, it couldn't have been
more definitive
if they had put a sign on him
saying "slave".
You know? The tape.
But it turned out Bobby
could make noise
and say things through the gag.
Stop the trial! Stop the trial!
Stop the trial! Stop the trial!
Stop the trial!
Stop the trial! Stop the trial!
Stop the trial! Stop the trial!
Stop the trial...
One of the most amazing phenomena
of that time was
outside the federal court building
there was a plaza.
It was right in the heart of town,
right in the middle of the Loop,
and these kids were coming down
from the court room and...
with fire in their eyes, having just
seen that madness up there,
and, all of a sudden, one day,
this black orator,
who at that time was 20 years old,
starts talking to these people,
and all of a sudden
it's like a magnet.
The Deputy Chairman of the Illinois
Black Panther Party - Fred Hampton.
And I just want to tell you that
the chairman of the Black Panther
Party is going to be ungagged
and they're going to have to
take those chains off of him.
Bobby Seale is going through
all kinds of physical
and mental torture,
but that's all right, because we
said it even before this happened,
and we're going to say it after
this, and after I'm locked up,
and after everybody's locked up,
that you can jail a revolutionary,
but you can't jail a revolution.
You can run a liberator like
Eldridge Cleaver out of the country
but you can't run a liberation
out of the country.
You might murder a freedom fighter
like Bobby Hutton
but you can't murder
a freedom fight...
Whatever it was, Fred had it.
When he got up in front of a group
of people, the words just flowed.
You were awash in the words, OK?
It was like that, and I don't care
how many people were there,
it's like he was talking to you.
That's a dangerous person.
So, we're going to see about Bobby,
He wasn't above us.
He was one of us.
I'm the Deputy Chairman of
the State of Illinois
Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton.
By the time he was 17,
he was the head of
the NAACP youth branch.
You're going to have to
do more than listen.
He was already experienced
by the time the Illinois chapter of
the Panther Party was formed,
so he was the natural choice
to lead it.
And we say
all powers to all people.
CROWD: All powers to all people.
Fred spoke in the People's Church
in August of 1969,
and I was in the crowd.
Towards the end of his speech,
he said, "Everybody stand up."
And we did, and he says,
"Now raise your right hand."
Say that,
"I am a revolutionary."
CROWD: I am a revolutionary.
Say it...
And I couldn't say it
because I thought to myself,
"I'm a lawyer for the movement.
I'm not a revolutionary."
And then he said it again,
"I am a revolutionary,"
and by the third or fourth time,
I was saying "a revolutionary"
as loud as anybody else in the room.
We say white power to white people.
CROWD: White power to white people.
Brown power to brown people.
Brown power to brown people.
Yellow power to yellow people.
Yellow power to yellow people.
Black power to black people.
Black power to black people.
We say Panther power to
the vanguard party.
A lot of us thought that we were
on the eve of a revolutionary
situation here in the United States.
We used to call the Panther Party
the vanguard of the movement,
because they were out
in the forefront.
There were kind of...
setting the pathway.
The things that we would face
some repression for, they would face
it ten times as great.
They were sacrificing their,
their lives in the struggle.
These people, if you ask,
they'll divide themselves.
They'll say,
"I'm black and I hate white people."
"I'm white and I hate black people."
"I'm Latin American
and I hate hillbillies."
"I'm a hillbilly
and I hate Indians."
So we're fighting amongst
each other.
Fred Hampton here in Chicago was
the main voice for racial unity.
The Black Panther Party
stood up and said
that we don't care about
what anybody says.
We don't think you
fight fire with fire,
you fight fire with water,
and we're going to fight racism,
not with racism,
but fight it with solidarity.
We worked with organisations
such as the Young Lords -
a Puerto Rican street gang that had
become political -
and the Young Patriots -
hillbillies, Appalachian whiteboys.
Bob Lee, who was our Deputy Field
Marshal, had a meeting with them,
and he was explaining
why we should work together.
The coalition that Fred was
building in Chicago represented
the Latinos, the poor whites
and poor blacks,
but also,
because he had been in the NAACP,
he had linkages with folks
who were in the congregations -
you know, church folks -
and with working-class folks,
so Fred was building
a broad-based coalition in Chicago
and that was the threat.
J Edgar Hoover most feared
young whites uniting
with the blacks' struggle
and he was most afraid
of what he called a black "messiah"
rising up out of this movement.
Fred Hampton was very good
at running an organisation.
He could delegate responsibility.
He could spot talent.
The one thing that he failed
to spot, however,
was the FBI plant who was,
of course, his personal bodyguard.
I routinely supplied whatever
floor plans or diagrams
I could to the FBI.
I... That started in June of 1969.
I mean, they had a floor plan
and keys to the Black Panther
December 3rd, 1969, there was
a rally at the People's Church
on the west side of Chicago
and it was one of those rallies
where Fred gave
one of those speeches.
FRED: I don't believe
I'm going to die in a car wreck.
I don't believe I'm going to die
from slipping on a piece of ice.
I don't believe I'm going to die
because I've got a bad heart.
Why don't you live for the people?
Why don't you struggle
for the people?
Why don't you die for the people?
Close to 12 midnight,
William O'Neal came and picked me up
and brought me back
to our apartment.
Chairman Fred had been running 24/7,
trying to organise,
so he fell asleep.
I was eight and a half months
pregnant with our son,
so I fell asleep, too.
Police attached to the Cook County
State's Attorney's office
raided a Chicago apartment
shared by two high-ranking members
of the Black Panther Party
before dawn today.
The police were acting on a tip
that a supply of weapons
was in the apartment.
The State's Attorney recreated
the layout of the Panther apartment
and made arrangements for them
to produce his version
of what happened.
He stands up. I stand.
I stepped over and the machine...
Foot out... In short bursts...
We realised that there were still
some people remaining inside...
In, and before I could
get past the threshold,
there were three shots fired
from the rear bedroom.
The immediate, violent,
criminal reaction of the occupants
in shooting at announced
police officers emphasises
the extreme viciousness
of the Black Panther Party.
So does their refusal
to cease firing
at the police officers when
urged to do so several times.
When the 15-minute gun battle was
over, two Black Panthers were dead.
Police and Panthers differ
about what happened.
In the apartment,
we received no warning, no tear gas,
nothing to offer us to surrender
or come out.
Bullets start coming through
the walls, plaster flying...
I saw a bullet coming from,
it looked like,
the front of the apartment,
from the kitchen area.
And they were...
The pigs were just shooting.
I laid on top of chairman Fred
and I could feel, even through him,
the mattress vibrating.
I could feel the bullet
going into him.
I just knew we'd be dead,
everybody in there.
We told them we were wounded,
and they said,
"Come out with your hands up."
One of them grabbed my robe and they
swung it open, and they say,
"Oh, what do you know?
We've got a broad here."
And then another one grabbed my hair
and slung me into the kitchen area.
I heard a voice say, "He's barely
alive. He'll barely make it."
They started shooting again.
I heard just a scream,
and they stopped shooting.
The pigs said,
"He's as good as dead now."
The police made what must be
an historic type of blunder.
in leaving the apartment open,
so, right away,
people went in there.
I stepped into the living room
and there was blood, Fred's blood,
pouring from all the way
from the bedroom in the very
back of the house, out into,
from the kitchen,
into the living room.
It was like a slaughterhouse and
there was blood all over the place.
When we lifted the mattress up
to look underneath,
three 45-calibre machinegun slugs
fell out of the mattress.
Only one shot came from a Panther
weapon, because Mark Clark,
the young kid who answered the door,
was shot in the heart
as he answered the door,
and the gun dropped and went off
through the ceiling.
All of the splinters were
coming into the apartment,
so we said, "This was a shooting.
It wasn't a shoot-out."
And this was... This was planned?
This was a planned get for him?
All indications to me,
personally, are that this was...
obviously a political assassination.
I don't think anybody would have
expected the police to commit
just murder.
It takes a certain kind of guy
to carry that out.
They laughed about
what happened that night.
Much of what they said happened
couldn't have happened the way
they said it happened.
I do not intend to quibble
about that account, nor...
You're saying... Is it the truth?
The account that we gave
of the events is the truth.
It was a death squad
that did this raid.
It was a police death squad and the
whole thing was set up by the FBI.
The funeral of the slain Panther
leader was marked by angry eulogies,
including one from Ralph Abernathy,
head of the nonviolent Southern
Christian Leadership Conference.
Enjoy your peace, Freddy,
because there will be no peace
in this land
until freedom comes to roam.
We are going to trample
these streets with our feet.
The last message that I think
that Fred would have
wanted everybody to hear,
and that is, "I am..."
CROWD: I am.
"..a revolutionary."
A revolutionary. "I am..."
I am a revolutionary.
I am...
..a revolutionary!
..a revolutionary!
I am a...
We didn't know when
it was going to happen
but we thought there was
something about to happen.
We were filling up sandbags,
fortifying the headquarters,
putting sand in the walls,
putting sandbags
around the entrance to the office.
We were actually trying to build
a tunnel to the sewer line.
If the police attacked us,
we were going to escape into
the sewers and, you know,
we were going to set charges
on the building
and blow the building after we left.
It seemed like it was more...
There was more of a
police presence around.
We were getting stopped more.
We were getting harassed more.
I think they found out that it was
a different climate for them here.
We'd stop them. We'd search them.
We'd shake them down
and I think we did establish that
we were the dominating force.
The Special Weapons And Tactics
concept was formed in 1966.
The original SWAT team
in the United States -
or anywhere, for that matter -
was the LAPD SWAT team,
and in this particular case,
this was the first time
the SWAT team
was activated to serve
a high-risk warrant.
It was decided that a no-knock
warrant would be utilised
and surprise would be the element
that you would use.
I'm on watch, on the roof,
and it's a real quiet night.
Everything is just still.
You don't hear anything.
The access to that roof on either
side - pow! It breaks open.
By the time I was swinging around,
I'm seeing a light's on me -
they had a big light -
and I'm hearing the whole, "Freeze!
Freeze! Stay there! Drop it!"
And the front door blew open.
Well, Cotton had went
in the gun room.
He had a Thompson sub-machine-gun,
putting it down, with their tops.
Buh-buh-buh-buh-buh! Buh-buh-buh!
When it sprayed across the roof,
you could see it in the light
from the street.
and I was seeing,
it was like, at the time, man,
I'm going to tell you,
at that instance,
it was the best music I ever heard.
And then, all of a sudden,
my gun just went off.
I don't know what happened.
The gun just went off, you know,
so we had them in flank in front,
and then Paul Redd got down.
He got busy and we drove them out
the front door.
Three officers were down...
..and the gunfight continued
as the officers were dragged out
the way by other officers.
Peaches and Tommy were
two sisters that were there.
They went into the communication
room to, just, you know,
start calling the news media and
calling our national headquarters
and calling everybody
they could call.
Loud noise after ten,
about four and a half hours after
the original raid this morning.
We had riflemen across the street -
on the roofs across the street.
They were shooting into the,
well, the shooting ports of
the building that
the Panthers had created.
The Panthers, on the other hand,
were shooting back out.
GUNSHOTommy had come downstairs
and she was laying behind me,
like, in a T.
You could see a light, a sunbeam,
going across her legs, like that.
Like, you know, "You need to move."
And she... You, know, she didn't.
She just kept talking and shit.
Next thing, you hear a shot go off.
GUNSHOThe bullet went through
both her legs, like that,
so, you know, at this time,
you know, we had pretty much
got shot out.
You know, we were saving enough
bullets that when they came in
the door that we would have
some bullets to shoot back with.
You know, I mean, it was like...
It wasn't like it took
no brain scientist to figure out,
"Well, this shit is over with."
We were talking about
giving up and...and...
You know, all the brothers say,
"Well, man, I ain't going out
there, man. I'm not giving up."
And, for like 30 minutes,
it just went around.
"Oh, I'm not going out first."
"I'm not going out first."
"We're going to die
in this, motherfucker.
"I'm not going out first."
Peaches said, "I'll go out there."
And I said, "Peaches..."
She said, "No, I'll go."
The white flag
coming out of the door.
The woman -
she's holding her hands up.
And she went outside
and Peaches gave up,
and when they didn't shoot Peaches,
then we came out, one at a time.
That's how that went.
It was a big, glorious shoot-out
but, after they raided us,
they had all the players locked up.
All of the main players was in jail.
CROWD: We want Huey out today!
We want Huey out today!
For about three years,
the Black Panthers have
used Huey Newton's name
for a rallying cry...
Free Huey! Free Huey! Free Huey!
..demanding that
he be freed from jail,
where he is held on a charge
of killing a policeman.
The words "Free Huey Newton"
have been chalked
and spray-painted on
1,000 fences and walls.
This being, the California
Supreme Court found some errors
in his trial
and ordered a new trial.
Now, right now, free Huey forever!
Right on!
Right on!
It was extremely tense.
You could feel the energy
and the tension in the air.
The Panthers had been getting
ready for guerrilla warfare
and they said, the sky is the limit
if the jury convicted him.
CROWD: We want Huey! We want Huey!
We want Huey! We want Huey!
We want Huey!
Shouting, "We want Huey now",
the crowd got their wish.
At this hour,
Huey Newton is a free man.
There he is!
Everybody was just
jubilant that day.
Finally, he gets to walk
out of that jail a free man.
The sky was the limit
and the sky had turned blue.
The image that was mobilised to
create the Free Huey movement
gave Huey almost mythic status
in the party.
He had become an image
and not a man,
and that gave him a power that
ultimately proved dangerous.
Come to the clinic tomorrow
for an appointment.
He came out, focusing on returning
to the survival programme,
the breakfast programme
and the free health clinics,
the free food programme
and the sickle-cell anaemia
research programme.
I remember Huey P Newton saying
that the Black Panther Party
was not going to last.
He said the organisation was
going to get destroyed,
based on the way we were...
We were very aggressive
and we kind of realised that this
wasn't going to last long.
We know that those are not
revolutionary programmes.
They are, at best,
survival programmes.
We know that the people are in
jeopardy of genocide
and that, if they do not survive,
then it won't be possible
to bring about revolution.
We were really trying
to connect more with
the people in the community,
and this was a...
This was a big push
and there was probably some...
some people who were not happy.
We have a breakfast for children
programme, you know?
But that's not what the Black
Panther Party is all about, you see?
I don't agree with saying that
the Black Panther Party
supports breakfast for children and
that's all we're about, you know?
"Don't talk about this other thing."
The Black Panther Party
is for overthrowing
the United States government.
Eldridge Cleaver, who was sitting
comfortably in Algeria,
was assailing the Black Panther
Party as being weak,
and it didn't have any more muscle,
and it was a reform organisation,
a Breakfast For Children Club,
and he denounced the party
and he denounced the administrator,
chief administrator of the party at
that time, who was David Hilliard.
He wanted to have
even more bloodshed,
which was not endearing us
to the community.
There were also problems with
the Panther 21 case.
There were legal fees,
and there became questions about
how much of the money that was
raised for the Panther 21
was actually getting back
to defend the Panther 21.
We wrote an open letter,
really criticising national
leadership and Huey P Newton,
and the response of
the national leadership
and, in particular, Huey P Newton,
was to kick out the Panther 21.
They were expelled
from the Panther Party.
Eldridge came to the defence
of the Panther 21.
The Black Panther Party has
split into two factions -
namely, the Cleaver
and Newton supporters.
The FBI was picking at Huey
and picking at Eldridge,
and I don't know who else
they were picking at,
to create this sense of distrust.
In the future,
submit counterintelligence proposals
against the Cleaver faction
and the Black Panther Party,
designed to widen
the existing rift,
effectively driving a wedge between
Newton and Eldridge Cleaver.
Ensure this mailing cannot be
traced to the bureau.
What we thought the FBI
wanted to do was kill us.
Blow up our offices. Shoot us.
I don't think we understood exactly
how insidious their project was.
They created a culture of paranoia
which was incredibly destructive.
In this sense, it was the
ultimate intelligence success,
being able to pit the party
against itself,
and the Panthers' internal conflict
would soon erupt
in the mainstream media.
Good morning.
Yes, it's AM, all right,
and this is Jim Dunbar,
with Nancy and Fleming here...
'We had become aware of
some sort of a rift'
that had come to pass
between Huey and Eldridge.
We had booked Huey and arranged
the call from Eldridge in Algeria
to take advantage of that.
We've got lots of things
coming up here on AM this morning.
Lots of things that
you'll like to see,
and we're looking forward to them
too, right here on AM.
'I'll not try to sugar-coat this.
'We thought this was a wonderful
opportunity to build audience,'
so we decided to go ahead
and put the two of them together.
Huey's goal in having Eldridge on
the show was to show people that
he and Eldridge were on the same
page, and Eldridge sabotaged that,
so Hughie was livid.
He was embarrassed.
He was furious, and so, within
ten minutes or so, he called back.
It was a split in the party
and, within days,
we began to feel
just how bad it was.
Someone has to be disciplined,
and my recommendation is
to discipline Eldridge Cleaver,
not for the criticism itself but of
the way in which it was presented.
The word got back to us
that Eldridge had put out the edict
that the streets were not
supposed to be safe for Panthers.
Whether he said that or not,
he was in Algeria, we were here.
Who knows? It was chaos.
There were certain chapters
that stayed with Huey.
Many of the people
who followed Eldridge
leave the party and go underground,
and then, some people just
were confused and frustrated
and walked away.
They don't know which faction of
the Black Panther Party to follow
or if they should deal
with Panthers at all.
The party had leaders who,
at that point,
were not worthy of the dedication
of their followers,
and I think that that was probably
the worst aspect of the party,
is that, I think,
some of the followers felt
betrayed by their leaders.
And the split becomes so deep
that it erupts, in some cases,
into violence, into fights,
and into shootings between Panthers.
This is exactly what
the Bureau, in fact,
wanted to see happen
in the first place.
This was part of what the Cointelpro
operations were really all about.
J Edgar Hoover, in particular, says,
"We've been pitting people
against each other.
"That's all worked out really well,
"but you know, now we don't even
have to worry about it any more.
"Now they're just going to
keep it going on their own
"and we can step back a little bit
and just let them play it out."
In the midst of all of this turmoil,
the Panthers decide to go in
a really radically new direction.
Bobby Seale,
the Black Panther leader,
has been in trouble with
the law for many years.
He's been imprisoned on some
charges, acquitted on others,
and now he's trying to make
a new career for himself.
He wants to be
Mayor of Oakland, California,
where the Black Panther
movement began.
All right. All right, there.
Nice to meet you.
How are you all doing?
The Panthers decide to call members
to Oakland, in an effort to
run Bobby Seale for Mayor of Oakland
and Elaine Brown for City Council.
John Seale, member of
the central committee of
the Black Panther Party,
called me at the Baltimore
chapter office and told me
to begin closing down
all of our programmes,
so we were instructed to cease
and desist all party operations,
and to bring as many party members
from Baltimore
out to Oakland as possible.
Ultimately, they roll the die.
They assume that if they're
successful in this campaign,
this might help to transform
one American city.
This might be the blueprint
for the future,
but they do roll the die.
The numbers were dwindling
and, therefore, the force of
the party was dwindling,
so it only made sense to
consolidate everything
and to say,
"What can we do with what we have?"
We laid down the guns two years ago.
"We don't need guns," we said,
because we knew
we had the ability to really
organise and educate the people
and show them, really,
some of the concrete things
we can do in the community.
Initially, the idea of Bobby
running for mayor seemed ridiculous.
Black Panther leader Bobby Seale
ran second in his race for Mayor of
Oakland, California, but Seale
polled just enough votes to
force a run-off with the
Conservative incumbent,
John Redding.
I think we were shocked when
he ended up in a run-off,
but as we got into the campaign,
and as he started doing
his campaign runs,
as Elaine started doing
her campaign speeches,
as people started getting -
we started galvanising
people's enthusiasm -
it started looking
like he might win.
MUSIC: Express Yourself
by Charles Wright
# Express yourself
# Express yourself... #
Part of the strategy
for the campaign was to
increase the number of black voters
on the rolls in Oakland.
We sent people out into the
community, going door-to-door,
walking the streets, registering
people to vote en masse.
And we went to the churches
and we went to the dope-houses
and we went to the streets
and we went everywhere where
the people were, trying to organise
people to vote for Bobby and Elaine.
# ..Whatever you do, do, do
Lord, Lord...
# Do it good... #
They ran an amazing campaign.
Bobby Seale used to
ride buses in Oakland
and do stump speaking on the bus,
and they really took it to
the streets in a different way.
# ..It's not what you look like when
you're doing what you're doing... #
Bobby had made a promise
that he was going to give away
10,000 bags of groceries
with a chicken in every bag,
and that was a takeoff on FDR's
"a chicken in every pot".
# ..Express yourself... #
We counted up and found out
last night it was 6,882 bags
that we actually gave away
last night,
and I think that
the voter registration
is running neck-and-neck with it.
I'm sure of that,
cos there's a lot of...
Oh, it blew our minds,
so many black people in
the black communities
that registered to vote.
It was amazing, because they
were able to register
between 20 and 50,000 people
to vote.
They basically turned their
survival programmes into
a "get out the vote" apparatus...
# ..Ah-ah
# Express yourself
Express yourself
# Express, express
Express yourself
# Express yourself
Express yourself... #
..but in the end, it wasn't enough.
Mayor John Redding of Oakland,
California was re-elected yesterday
in a run-off against Bobby Seale,
the Black Panther leader,
and Don Oliver has that story.
Looking at the mood
at Bobby Seale's headquarters,
you would have thought he won.
You know what somebody told me?
What is it? Tell us.
They say, we don't care how
the election goes, Bobby Seale,
as far as you can see...
They told me this, it blew my mind.
You're still our mayor
and we're going to keep going.
Power to the people.
Plan A was for Bobby to win,
Elaine to win,
and our slate to win.
There wasn't,
as far as I can remember, a plan B.
Once we lost the campaign,
there was kind of a, erm...
You know, there was a void.
It was, in theory, a great idea,
that you could marshal this army
of organisers to come to Oakland
but, for the most part, when all
the chapters come back to Oakland,
well, the Panthers as
a national phenomenon really cease.
After the elections in Oakland,
Huey Newton is known to have
some erratic behaviour.
People who are very close to him
would say that,
"It depends on the day
you meet him."
Some days, Huey Newton
could be a brilliant, thoughtful
political strategist, and committed
to the liberation of black people,
and another day, he could be
self-serving and thuggish.
I was one of the folks who oriented
new Panther members,
and I oriented them by
telling them about
what a wonderful person Huey was,
and about how he was
the leader of our party,
never knowing what the hell he was.
We had created the cult of the
personality around a fucking maniac.
He surrounded himself
with former prisoners
and they became his inner retinue.
Around 1973,
we created a special unit
that would protect our leaders
and do other kinds of activities
related to what Huey Newton called
"the sterner stuff of politics".
We were going to take over
the underworld -
the underground apparatus
of the city of Oakland.
We were shaking down
the drug dealers, the pimps...
Some people were, like, stickup men.
He was bringing in revenue.
As he became more and more
addicted to multiple substances,
I don't think he wanted to live
and I don't think he wanted
the party to live any more.
From there on, you know, he was
less and less the Huey I knew
and more and more
listening to his demons.
If Huey wanted to see you,
or you wanted to see Huey,
you had to come to his penthouse,
which meant that
you went up in his elevator,
which meant that you were searched
before you got up there,
and when you get up there, then you
were confronted by this maniac,
in his penthouse, who did all
kinds of things to people -
physical assault, sexual assault,
threatening to kill...
He also became very abusive
to the people around him.
He abused people like Bobby.
There were changes in the
Bobby Seale left.
There were a lot of people
who had been in the organisation
from the beginning and, and...
and then they left.
Then there was a time
when he was violent with me
and that was why
I left the Black Panther Party.
I said goodbye as I left but I left.
The great strength of the
Black Panther Party was its ideals
and its youthful vigour
and enthusiasm.
The great weakness of the party
was its ideals
and its youthful vigour
and its enthusiasm.
That sometimes
can be very dangerous,
especially when you're up against
the United States government.
MUSIC: Winter In America
by Gil Scott-Heron
# Just like the cities
that stagger on the coastline
# Living in a nation
# That just can't take much more
# Like the forest
they buried beneath the highway
# Never had a chance to grow... #
If there's anything
I can do that would truly
progress the people, let me know.
I may not be a member
of the Black Panther Party,
but I will always be
a Black Panther.
All power to the people.
Peace and freedom to the world.
We made mistakes.
We charged ahead too fast
and were too arrogant sometimes.
We certainly underestimated
the police and the government,
in terms of their response
to the Black Panther Party.
but I think what remains true -
the central guiding principle was
an undying love for the people.
# ..And now it's winter
# It feels like winter in America
# Yeah, it's a time when
all of the healer brothers
# Who could help us done been killed
# They put 'em in jails
# Yeah, people know
there's something wrong
# But everybody oughta know
# Winter... #
The Black Panther Party platform
and programme -
what we want and what we believe.
We want decent housing
fit for the shelter of human beings.
# ..Well, nobody knows
what to say... #
We want education for our people.
# ..The truth is there ain't
nobody fighting... #
We want an immediate end
to police brutality
and murder of black people.
# ..Nobody knows
Nobody knows... #
We want land, bread, housing,
education, clothing,
justice, peace...
# ..Nobody's fighting because
# Well, nobody knows what to say
# It feels like winter in America
# The truth is there ain't nobody
fighting because
# Well, nobody knows what to say
# The truth is there ain't
nobody fighting because
# Well, nobody knows
# Nobody knows what to do
# What to do
# The truth is there ain't
nobody fighting because
# Nobody knows what to say. #