Politics

Black Panthers’ Troubled History

Christian Adams isn’t the only one scratching his head over politics trumping justice in the Election Day 2008 voter intimidation case. If New Black Panthers standing outside of a Philadelphia polling place in paramilitary garb, striking menacing poses, swearing at passers-by, and, in one instance, swinging a club, isn’t voter intimidation, then it’s hard to envision a case — short of outright assault — that would be.

On their way to a courtroom victory, Obama appointees avoided an ideological defeat by overruling career lawyers at the Justice Department and dropping the case. The rigged outcome is, to borrow from famed wordsmith Yogi Berra, déjà vu all over again. When it comes to getting off scot free, the New Black Panther Party has nothing on their forebears.
New Haven Black Panther Warren Kimbro served just four years for his execution-style murder of fellow Panther Alex Rackley in 1969. Eastern Connecticut State later hired him as an assistant dean.

Former Harlem Black Panther Assata Shakur’s one-woman crime-wave culminated in the 1973 murder of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster. She escaped from prison and now lives in Cuba on a state subsidy. A branch of the City University of New York once offered $500 scholarships in Shakur’s, and not the dead cop’s, honor, and Bucknell University included the convicted murderer in a “Black Heroes” course.

Panther-camp follower Angela Davis purchased the guns used in a 1970 courthouse raid that resulted in the deaths of four people, including a decapitated judge. She eluded the FBI for two months — and then eluded a guilty verdict. She hasn’t eluded the academic gravy train. The two-time vice-presidential candidate on the Communist Party USA-ticket landed a tenured position in UC-Santa Cruz’s history of consciousness department, the University of California’s highest academic honor (which came with $90,000), and lucrative honoraria at campuses from coast to coast.

Who says crime doesn’t pay?

It didn’t pay at first for Huey Newton, a petty thief kicked out of every high school in Oakland. But when the soft-spoken Newton started mouthing the political parlance of white leftists back at them, he found that he could, quite literally, get away with murder. Newton murdered Oakland police officer John Frey in 1967. By 1970, with the help of such celebrity sycophants as Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, and Donald Sutherland, the Supreme Servant of the Black Panther Party — whose iconic muscular image seated atop a wicker chair holding a rifle and spear morphed him from criminal to saint among mush minds — was freed on a technicality. Getting away with murder once, Newton would keep murdering, including a prostitute who dared call Huey “baby.” Newton’s game of shakedowns, brutal beatings, embezzlement, and murder continued until a fellow Oakland drug dealer beat him at his own game in 1989.

Rapist Eldridge Cleaver, who infamously dubbed his sexual assaults on white women “an insurrectionary act,” was even more brazen in his response to news of the disappearance of a man rumored to have bedded his wife. In Algeria, after skipping bail for his role in an ambush of Oakland policemen, Cleaver playfully said of his missing comrade: “What do you want me to tell you? Is it true? What is true is that there is no statute of limitations on murder. And beyond that, this purported incident did not take place within the jurisdiction of the United States of America and I do not think the Algerian government is going to try to indict me for this rumor. That information cannot be introduced into any judicial proceeding in the United States. As such, my response to it is that this man, along with others who came through Algeria, went underground. Now people say, ‘That’s a double entendre. What do you mean by “He went underground?”’ I mean, ‘He went underground.’ Where is he? He’s underground.”

After Cleaver’s 1998 death, a Panther eyewitness revealed that he saw Cleaver shoot the man. Cleaver reportedly then doused his corpse in acid and buried him.

Why wouldn’t Cleaver joke about murder, or Newtown boast of his cop killing? Both knew that their political posturing allowed them to commit crime with impunity.

And the New Black Panthers know that, too. Swinging a baton outside a polling station doesn’t compare with rape and murder. But the like manner in which the unlike illegalities have been whitewashed is striking.

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