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Mumia Abu-Jamal Remains the Voice of the Voiceless

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Black August Series No. 2

After 40 years of incarceration the “voice of the voiceless” remains a focus of international attention

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal speaks at a memorial for Fred Hampton in Philadelphia. Source : commonnotions

During the late 1960s, Mumia Abu-Jamal became a youth activist in the city of Philadelphia where a succession of racist police chiefs engaged in widespread abuse against the African American community.

Philadelphia has a centuries-long history of African self-organization dating back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries when the Free African Society, African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) and other institutions were formed by Richard Allen, Sarah Allen and Absalom Jones.

During mid-19th century, the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society provided avenues for men and women to build support for the Underground Railroad and the movement to completely eradicate involuntary servitude in the antebellum border and deep southern states. By the 1960s, the city became known as one of the first municipalities where African Americans would rise up in rebellion on the north side during the late August 1964.

Max Stanford (later known as Muhammad Ahmed), a co-founder of the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) in 1962, was from Philadelphia. RAM proceeded the Black Panther Party (BPP) and sought to form an alliance with Malcolm X (also known as El Hajj Malik Shabazz), a leading spokesman for the Nation of Islam and later the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). RAM advocated for the development of a revolutionary movement in the U.S. and consequently became a target of the Justice Department.

In 1969, Mumia joined the Black Panther Party at the age of 15 when the organization was deemed by the then Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) J. Edgar Hoover as the “greatest threat to national security” in the United States. The Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) had a special division which was designed to monitor, disrupt, imprison and kill various leaders and members of African American organizations from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the BPP as well as a host of other tendencies. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) since the mid-to-late 1970s indicate that the BPP was a principal target of the U.S. government and local police agencies.

Why was the BPP considered so dangerous by the leading law-enforcement agency inside the country? In order to provide answers to this question it must be remembered that between 1955 and 1970, the African American people led a struggle for civil rights and self-determination which impacted broad segments of the population in the U.S. helping to spawn movements within other oppressed communities.

The Black Panther Party was first formed in Lowndes County Alabama in 1965. Its origins grew out of the organizing work of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), whose field organizer, Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture) was deployed to the area in the aftermath of the Selma to Montgomery march in late March of the same year. Working in conjunction with local activists, an independent political party was formed known as the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO). The group utilized the black panther as its symbol while rejecting both the Republican and Democratic Party. 

In subsequent months, there were other Black Panther organizations formed in several cities including Detroit, Cleveland, New York City and other urban areas. In Oakland, California during October of 1966, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. 

This movement represented an emerging phase of the Black liberation struggle where there were calls for armed self-defense, mass rebellion and the political takeovers of major municipalities by those who had been excluded from the reins of official power. Thousands of African American youth flocked to the Black Panther Party viewing the organization as a symbol of uncompromising resistance to racism, national oppression and economic exploitation.

Mumia and the BPP

Although the BPP was projected in the national corporate media as gun toting militants willing to use weapons against the police when they were threatening the Party and the community, most of the work of the organization revolved around distribution of its weekly newspaper, the establishment of free breakfast programs for children, community health clinics for the people in the most oppressed areas of the African American community while building alliances with revolutionary forces among other sectors of the population including, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Asians, Native Americans and whites committed to fundamental change within U.S. society.

Mumia noted the diversity of programmatic work during his tenure in the BPP of the late 1960s and early 1970s in his book entitled “We Want Freedom”: “As the Breakfast program succeeded so did the Party, and its popularity fueled our growth across the country. Along with the growth of the Party came an increase in the number of community programs undertaken by the Party. By 1971, the Party had embarked on ten distinctive community programs, described by Newton as survival programs. What did he mean by this term? We called them survival programs pending revolution. They were designed to help the people survive until their consciousness is raised, which is only the first step in the revolution to produce a new America.… During a flood the raft is a life-saving device, but it is only a means of getting to higher ground. So, too, with survival programs, which are emergency services. In themselves they do not change social conditions, but they are life-saving vehicles until conditions change.” (

On December 4, 1969, the Chicago police under the aegis of the Illinois State’s Attorney Edward V. Hanrahan and the Chicago field office of the FBI, raided the residence of BPP members on the city’s west side. Two Panther leaders, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed while several other occupants of the house were wounded. 

These police actions along with hundreds of other attacks on BPP chapters across the country resulted in the deaths of many Panther members and the arrests and framing of hundreds of cadres. Numerous BPP members were driven into exile as others were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. 

The Voice of the Voiceless from the Streets to Death Row

On December 9, 1981, Mumia was arrested in Philadelphia and charged with the murder of white police officer Daniel Faulkner. He was railroaded through the courts and convicted on July 3, 1982. The following year, Mumia was sentenced to die by capital punishment. He remained on death row until 2011 after an international campaign to save his life proved successful.

However, his death sentence was commuted to life in prison without parole. Mumia and his supporters have maintained that he is not guilty of the crime of killing a police officer. 

After his sojourn in the BPP, Mumia utilized his writing and journalist skills learned in the Party to become a formidable media personality in Philadelphia. He was a fierce critic of police brutality and a defender of the revolutionary MOVE organization which emerged during the 1970s in the city. 

Mumia was a co-founder of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in the 1970s. He worked as a radio broadcaster and writer exposing the misconduct of the police surrounding the attack on the MOVE residence in August 1978. In 1979, he interviewed reggae superstar Bob Marley when he visited Philadelphia for a concert performance.

While behind bars Mumia has become an even more prolific writer and broadcast journalist. He issues weekly commentaries through Prison Radio where he discusses a myriad of topics including African American history, international affairs, political economy, the deplorable conditions existing among the more than two million people incarcerated in the U.S. along with police misconduct. (

A renewed campaign entitled “Love Not Phear” held demonstrations around the U.S. and the world during the weekend of July 3 marking the 40th anniversary of his unjust conviction in 1982. Love Not Phear says that it is committed to the liberation of all political prisoners including Mumia Abu-Jamal.

An entry on their website emphasizes that: “The landscape has changed over the last 40 years, a time frame that also marks the years Mumia has been incarcerated. The fight for the release of political prisoners requires a recalibration in order to challenge police corruption and racism as they have evolved in this new landscape. We cannot deny the racism, corruption, and misconduct that permeated the so-called ‘Halls of Justice’ during Mumia’s arrest and unjust kangaroo court trial. The people today know the truth; commonplace bribed witnesses, suppressed evidence, biased judges, and backroom deals put Mumia behind bars.” (

Mumia through his attorneys have filed another appeal based upon evidence related to prosecutorial misconduct which has been further revealed over the last four years. The hearing will take place on October 19 in Philadelphia. Supporters of Mumia and other political prisoners will attend the hearing in this latest attempt to win the long-awaited freedom for this activist who is now 68 years old



Comrades, on May 25th, Sundiata Acoli walked out of prison into the arms of his family and loved ones! We knew this day was coming but wanted to ensure it was official and that we saw it with our own eyes. As you can imagine, after 49 years, Sundiata is finally able to spend time with his family and we want to make sure we respect these precious moments. To that end, we will be asking our supporters to hold off on requesting meetings with him until he can get settled and his family can love up on him by themselves. We’ll announce an official homecoming celebration in the coming weeks.

In prison, there’s no 401k, no savings plan, and no pension. It’s up to all of us to provide that. We ask for your generous support to allow Sundiata to enjoy his years of freedom with the financial stability he deserves. 

All donations received will go to Sundiata’s family to care for him. 

When Huey Newton inspired the Polynesian Panthers of New Zealand who stood up to racism

Image via
Huey Percy Newton was a revolutionary African-American political activist who did his best to correct what was described as the ills of the American society at the time and fought for the end of the oppression of people of color in the country. He and fellow student Bobby Seale formed the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in 1966 to fight police brutality against the black community in Oakland.
The party took on a militant stance coupled with the burgeoning pride associated with the black power movement. The Panther Party became infamous for brandishing guns, challenging the authority of police officers, and embracing violence as a necessary by-product of revolution. The Panthers were not just about being menacing, however, as the group introduced a series of goals such as fighting for better housing, jobs and education for African-Americans. These plans were laid out in the Panther Party’s “Ten-Point Program.

Six young New Zealand-born Pacific Islanders were inspired by the works of Newton and his party and in 1971, they created The Polynesian Panther Party (PPP). The PPP was a revolutionary social justice movement formed to fight racial inequalities carried out against indigenous Māori and Pacific Islanders in Auckland and New Zealand as a whole.

Pacific Islanders is a term used to describe the Indigenous peoples of Oceania (Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia). During the 1950s when New Zealand’s economy was not in good shape and needed workers, thousands of Pacific Islanders arrived. Over time, the color of the population changed in inner-city Auckland. The city was no longer all-White and this bothered people and authorities. Soon, Pacific Islanders faced issues such as racial profiling, redlining, disproportionate incarceration, and segregation in the sports world, according to this report.

Six young Maori and Pacific Islander men, namely, Fred Schmidt, Nooroa Teavae, Paul Dapp, Vaughan Sanft, Eddie Williams and Will ‘Ilolahia took notice of what was happening and founded the PPP on June 16, 1971, inspired by the American Black Panthers. The group was specifically inspired by the book Seize the Time by Bobby Seale of the American Black Panther movement. According to Stuff, the book’s central philosophy guided the PPP’s three-point platform — peaceful resistance, Pacific empowerment (identity work) and educating New Zealand about systemic racism.

“Initially it was the literature of the Black Panther Party in America that we got attracted to – the work they were doing in America, and when we read the books deeper we found out that the problems they were complaining about were the exact problems that we were seeing in New Zealand, so we decided to do something constructive and formed the Polynesian Panther Party,” Will ‘Ilolahia, who was the party chairman, said

With their black uniform and berets adopted from their peers in the United States, they seemed to be a threat to the White middle-class in New Zealand, however, their movement centered on community work, as stated by The PPP set up its headquarters in Ponsonby, a suburb of Auckland, and started to implement its program through community organizing and direct action.

“What was it all about being a Polynesian Panther? Standing up on behalf of our people, being good to your neighbour, don’t take no s… and stop this racism,” ‘Ilolahia was quoted by Stuff.

Indeed, acts of community care by Newton and his Panthers in the U.S. served as an inspiration to the Polynesian Panthers movement to serve the Polynesian community through grassroots community initiatives and of course protest of injustices. Some of its activities included youth programs intended to inspire community initiative and discourage gang integration, prison-visit programs, homework centres and tutoring for Pacific children, and free meal programs and food banks for families.

The PPP also kept aggressive police force accountable and organized legal aid for those unjustly evicted or fired or people who have lost their visas or under threat of deportation. All in all, it led programs that educated Māori and Pacific Islanders on their rights as New Zealand citizens. Within a few years, the PPP which was made up of former gang members, revolutionaries, university students and radicals expanded nationally with 13 chapters including its chapters in prisons and in South Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Dawn raids

From the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, special police squads conducted raids on the homes and workplaces of Pasifika overstayers throughout New Zealand usually at dawn. Over-stayers of Pacific Islander heritage were disproportionately targeted in these raids even though the majority of people overstaying were from the UK, Australia and South Africa, per this report.

In response, the Panthers organized “counter raids” outside the homes of government ministers, chanting around their homes with megaphones.The PPP’s actions helped to stop the dawn raids and the group even went on to successfully campaign for a state apology.

The Polynesian Panthers may not be very much alive today in New Zealand but their legacy as liberators can still be felt.


The overlooked story of Mark Clark, the 22-yr-old Black Panther assassinated with Fred Hampton

Mark Clark, who served as a defense captain for the Illinois Black Panther Party, was just 22 years old when he and Fred Hampton, deputy chair of the Illinois Black Panther Party, were assassinated in a raid coordinated by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Chicago police, and the FBI.

Clark and 21-year-old Hampton were gunned down by 14 police officers as they lie sleeping in Hampton’s apartment in Chicago, Illinois, in the early morning hours of December 4, 1969. About a hundred bullets were fired in what police described as a gun battle with members of the Black Panther Party.

But ballistics experts later found that only one of those bullets came from the side of the Panthers. The raid was also later found to be part of COINTELPRO, a secret FBI program whose purpose, as stated by one FBI document, was to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize the activities of Black nationalist hate type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership and supporters.

The Black Panther Party, a creation of Huey Newton and fellow student Bobby Seale, insisted on a Black nationalist response to racial discrimination. The party’s Illinois chapter was being headed by Hampton when he was killed by authorities thanks to the information provided by FBI informant William O’Neal. Then a petty criminal, O’Neal infiltrated the party and provided the FBI with a floor plan of the Chicago apartment where Hampton and Clark were assassinated in 1969.

Much has been written about Hampton, including his charisma, leadership skills and intelligence but Clark, who died with him during the raid, is rarely talked about. As a matter of fact, when Chicago Police stormed into Hampton’s apartment, Clark was the first to be murdered. A bullet hit him in the heart and he died instantly.

Who was Clark?

He was born in Peoria, Illinois, on June 28, 1947. Clark became a member of the local NAACP chapter when he was 15 and later formed the Peoria chapter of the Black Panther Party. Clark also started the first free breakfast program for Peoria youth.

“He was very active in political things. Really just the fight against racism,” Gloria Clark-Jackson said of her brother when she published a book about him entitled, Mark Clark: Soul of a Black Panther in September 2020.

Clark and his siblings were brought up as Christians. His father, Elder William Clark, was a pastor and the founder of Holy Temple Church of God and Christ that can still be found on Webster and McBean on Peoria’s South Side.

“It was ironic that we were always taught to treat people right, but we weren’t always treated the same way, as people of color,” Clark-Jackson, who is a retired nurse, told WCBU.

Clark, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington, D.C. and could call for order when older persons could not, attended Manual High School and then went to Illinois Central Junior College in Peoria. But he could not complete his graduation. Apparently, he liked to learn but didn’t like school. “Most of his knowledge came from his own efforts,” his sister Elner said in an interview.

Described as a “thinker” and a “quiet leader”, Clark suddenly passed away in the early morning hours of December 4, 1969, when Chicago Police stormed Hampton’s apartment where he was. Deborah Johnson, Hampton’s fiancée, later recounted what happened.

“I remember it like it was yesterday. The police knocked on the door (around 4.35 am) and Defense Captain Mark Clark (who headed up the Black Panther’s Peoria chapter) answered the door by saying, ‘Who is it?’ The police said, ‘Tommy.’ And Mark responded, ‘Tommy who?’ Then the police responded back, ‘Tommy gun.’ After that, the police kicked in the front door and started shooting. And Mark was killed instantly.”

Reports said that when Clark was shot in the heart, his shotgun fired as a reflexive convulsion. That was the only shot the Panthers fired as compared to about a hundred bullets from the cops.

“He had a feeling for people and placed them above himself,” a close friend said of Clark after his murder.

Clark-Jackson, who shares her brother’s story in her book, was also a member of the Black Panther Party under Clark’s leadership. She told WCBU that she will never forget the determined, serious look that took over her brother’s face the day he recruited her into the Black Panther Party.

“I will never forget the words he spoke that still reverberate in my mind. His message is as clear today as it was then: ‘There are many who will talk about the injustice in this country, but only a few will do something about it. Which one are you?’”

The city of Chicago, Cook County, and the federal government reached a settlement with Clark’s and Hampton’s survivors in the early 1980s. FBI informant O’Neal was hated by some and commended by others as his role in the 1969 raid that killed Hampton and Clark became known. And many believe that his guilt over his role as an FBI informant led to his death in 1990. O’Neal apparently walked in front of a speeding car which struck and killed him. His death was ruled a suicide.


The Birth of the NFAC; Amerika’s Black Militia

Black grassroots movements have led the charge throughout the history of Black Americans fighting for equality in America. From the 1954 Civil Rights movement to the Black Power movement of the ’60s, and the more recent Black Lives Matter movement.

Since the dismantlement of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in 1982, no other organization composed of Black men and women has disrupted America’s white comfort. Until the NFAC (Not ****ing Around Coalition) led by the 2016 independent presidential candidate, John Fitzgerald Johnson, known as Grandmaster Jay, took formation.

The NFAC is a focused, self-finance armed militia of trained Black military veterans, and according to the Grandmaster Jay, the NFAC is neither protestors nor demonstrators. “We are a Black militia. We don’t come to sing; we don’t come to chant. That’s not what we do,” says Grandmaster Jay.

The first public sighting of the NFAC took place on May 12, 2020, in Brunswick, Georgia, as a direct response to the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black jogger murder by two white males in February. Although early reports on the NFAC linked the organization to the Black Panther Party, the NFAC has denied any connection.

One of the biggest shows of arms and unity from the NFAC came on July 4, 2020, America’s Independence Day. Along with an upward of 1,000 troops, Grandmaster Jay marched in sync through the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan, Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Appearing on Roland Martin’s “Unfiltered Daily Digital Show,” Grandmaster Jay tells Martin that the Stone Mountain formation took place for two reasons: One, to exercise their constitutional rights to bear arms and to assemble peacefully. It was also to challenge the white nationalist organization after threats of lynching and shooting people of color began circulating online.

“You are not going to continue to threaten the Black Race, Grandmaster Jay says. “It was time to show folks that we can defend ourselves.

The NFAC showed another demonstration of unity and strength when they took to Louisville, Kentucky, to apply pressure on Louisville Attorney General, Daniel Camron, for his lack of urgency in bringing justice to 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. Taylor, an EMT, with no criminal history, was shot by the Louisville police officers eight times as they mistakenly raided her home. The presence of the NFAC in Louisville resulted in a conversation between Daniel Cameron and Grandmaster Jay. According to Jay, he gave Cameron an ultimatum, finish the investigation in four weeks, or the NFAC would return to Louisville. Grandmaster Jay says the NFAC presences in Louisville were not to create or add any more chaos to a city already under the public’s microscope but feels their appearance is necessary to spread a particular message. That message was justice for Breonna Taylor.

Everyone may not agree with the NFAC and what some may call an aggressive approach.  But in a country where Black people continue to be murder and threatened by local law enforcement and white nationalist organizations, the NFAC is needed as an alternative to what’s to come if America doesn’t correct their mistreatment to people of color.

“Anytime there appears to be a gross injustice against the Black community, we’ve decided we’re going to take it to the streets. We’re going to take it to their face and show them what Malcolm said was true. There are no such things as a bloodless revolution.” -Grandmaster Jay


Ten Speed to Publish “The Black Panther Party: A Graphic History”

Publishers Weekly reports Ten Speed Press will publish the biographical graphic novel “The Black Panther Party: A Graphic History” in January 2021. The book, written by David F. Walker (“Bitter Root”) with art by Marcus Kwame Anderson (“Snow Daze”), will chart the history of the revolutionary socialist party founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in 1966, until its dissolution in 1982.Walker said he initially intended to write a graphic biography of Fred Hampton, the BPP’s deputy chairman, who was murdered by the FBI and the Chicago police in 1969. “I pitched Ten Speed about the Hampton biography, but they wanted a full history of the Black Panther Party,” he told PW. “I eventually realized that I needed to tell the whole story of the BPP to be able to tell Fred Hampton’s story.”

He said artist Marcus Kwame Anderson was chosen because of he has “a very versatile style. We could approach a serious topic with a more cartoony style, though his work on this book is a little more serious than his other work.” He acknowledged how the topical the book is in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, although he pointed out “it wasn’t planned that it would be released at this time, and I wish it wasn’t so relevant.”

For more from Walker at PW, hit the link here.

Black Panthers See Echoes in Today’s Protest Movement, With Focus on Cell Phones, Not Guns

Perspective: Black Lives Matters’ media savvy sidesteps marginalization of ’60s revolutionaries

At a Blacks Lives Matter protest, a young woman stares boldly into the camera’s lens, hoisting a sign that reads, “George Floyd isn’t a wake-up call. The same alarm has been ringing since 1619. Y’all just keep hitting snooze.”

The last time the alarm rang this loudly may have been when the Black Panthers built a nationwide movement.

What distinguishes the Black Lives Matter movement from the Black Panther Party, which brought national attention to police brutality and racial injustice more than half a century ago, is widespread appeal, said one early member of the Black Panthers. His simple advice for the younger generation: Stick with it.

“I see Black Lives Matter trying to avoid the mistakes we made,” said Henry “Hank” Jones, who was active in the San Francisco chapter starting in 1968. “We allowed ourselves to be marginalized. We had ego issues, went to the gun too soon, and allowed the government to label us as gun-crazy criminals.”

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, as it was initially known, was founded in 1966 to challenge police violence against African Americans in part by protecting Oakland’s Black communities with armed organized patrols. At the time, California residents were legally allowed to carry weapons openly. After the Panthers began to take advantage of this law, the state Legislature passed a law banning the open carry of loaded weapons by anyone outside of law enforcement or others with explicit authorization to do so. The National Rifle Association, which vehemently opposes gun control, supported the law.

Today’s activists need patience, said Jones, who at 85 doesn’t expect to see radical change in his or possibly in his grandchildren’s lifetimes. “We were trying to make a revolution in our lifetime,” he said. “You can’t rush things.”

Other former Black Panther Party members similarly connected the dots, outlining how the Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality serves as an extension not just of their own struggle in the 1960s and ’70s, but also of struggles stretching much farther back.

“We have all been encouraged by the energy of the Black masses and our allies in protesting the murder of George Floyd, but as each of you are well aware the murder and brutality visited upon our people is nothing aberrational or new,” said 17 former party members in an open letter to hip-hop artists published June 10.

“The butchering, torture, and dehumanization of Black people extends to the bullwhips, castrations, and mass rape on the plantations of America’s European ‘founding fathers’ and continues to this day,” said the letter from the party members, including Kathleen Cleaver, former communications secretary and organizer of the campaign from 1968 to 1970 to free co-founder Huey Newton from jail. “This is the legacy from which modern law enforcement in America derived its overarching purpose, the protection of property and wealth, not people — especially not Black people.”

While the Black Panthers worked to connect history to the realities of police violence and structural discrimination they faced, they gained widespread notoriety — and support from activists — when armed members marched into the California state Capitol to protest the bill that later became the Mulford Act, banning the open carry of weapons.

These days, Black Lives Matter activists and their allies are using phones instead of firearms, recording videos of police killings and other brutality that have gone viral repeatedly. The resulting waves of outrage, amplified by immediate access to millions of viewers via social media, culminated in the current movement of daily protests that have spread around the world over the last month.

From ‘Pony Express’ to social media posts

“Back then, we didn’t have the technology that Black Lives Matter has,” said Jones. “Our news and information were transmitted by Pony Express. You couldn’t flick your finger across a screen and have information immediately at your disposal.”

Today’s activists — including one in my own family — recognize the huge advantage modern organizing tools give them to control and distribute their message.

“One of the big issues of the late ’60s and ’70s was limited opportunities to present themselves to the country,” said Kamel Jacot-Bell, a San Francisco-based activist who is also my nephew. His understanding of how the Black Panthers worked and how they compare with the current movement come in large part from his father, Herman Bell (my brother-in-law), a former member of the Black Liberation Army and the Black Panther Party, who served almost 45 years in prison after being convicted inthe killings of two New York City police officers.

“They had the Black Panther Party Newspaper, but that had a limited circulation,” said Jacot-Bell. “They had few other tools to get their message out beyond television, which was owned by the corporate structure and the state who distorted their intentions.”

While some former party members laud the “wonderful consciousness” they see behind the current protests, they also question whether the Black Lives Matter movement will have staying power without a set platform, programming and goals.

“Black Lives Matter has adopted some of the same policies the Black Panther Party put forth as far as police community review boards, observers and calling for the dismantling of the police,” Jones said. But their methods might need more “teeth” or strategies for community building beyond the protests, he added.

The Black Panthers, co-founded by Newton and Bobby Seale, developed a 10-point program articulating their demands and philosophy. It declared their independence from a racist society and outlined ideals, modes of operation and organizational structure.

Community building as social and political strategy

Though they are often remembered for their gun-toting activism and were depicted in mainstream media as a Black militant militia, the Black Panthers created more than 60 programs to aid the community, some of which have been emulated by governmental, private and nonprofit organizations.

The Black Panthers sponsored a free hot breakfast program in 19 cities that fed more than 20,000 children in 1969. From storefronts, trailers and tenuously constructed shacks, their People’s Free Medical Center offered screenings for high blood pressure, lead poisoning, tuberculosis, diabetes and cancer, physical exams, immunizations and other primary care services. These centers predated President Bill Clinton’s attempt at universal health care and President Barack Obama’s affordable health care program.

Other programs included the People’s Free Ambulance Service, a food pantry for the poor and the Black Student Alliance, which provided mentoring and support for Bay Area college students. The mission of the latter program can be seen in modern day Black male and minority mentoring programs at universities. Finally, the Black Panther Party newspaper kept the community apprised of the party’s initiatives, issues and ideologies as well as struggles affecting the black community.

“We were about nation building for blacks,” Jones said. “That meant you didn’t call the police when you had an issue. People called the Black Panther Party to settle their issues.” Members were known to carry guns in one hand and a law book in the other to protect and advise Black people who had been stopped or harassed by the police.

“There was ownership in the community,” he added. “You didn’t have to call in outsiders.”

The power of multiracial campaigns and modern tools

Black Lives Matter protests have taken a different tack, shutting down major business and retail districts, blocking traffic on major throughways in major U.S. cities and bleeding over from primarily minority communities into integrated and predominantly white communities as well.

With mass mobilization reminiscent of the civil rights era, the movement’s far-reaching, influential social media awareness-building campaigns and largely peaceful protests have succeeded in changing the national conversation and spurring progress.

After worldwide demonstrations, all four officers involved in Floyd’s death were arrested and charged. Charges against Derek Chauvin, the police officer seen with his knee on Floyd’s neck, were upgraded from third- to second-degree murder. Afterward, Minneapolis announced plans to disband its police department. Several other cities, including New York and Los Angeles, have announced plans to redirect part of their police departments’ budgets to youth and social services. San Francisco Mayor London Breed on June 11 announced a plan to redirect some police funding to the African American community and institute other police reforms.

Louisville’s Metro Council is considering a law, named in honor of Breonna Taylor, to limit the use of “no knock” search warrants. Taylor was shot and killed in her home by Louisville police after they used a no-knock warrant to enter her apartment. Elsewhere, statues of racists and Confederate monuments are being torn down. Even popular racecar circuit NASCAR will now prohibit the display of the Confederate flag at its events.

“The next step is for people to organize within themselves in various aspects, like providing actionable steps to defund the police, creating alternative options for security and safety in our community, economic blocs and ways to create ownership and equity within our communities,” Jacot-Bell said.

Despite their achievements, all revolutions or movements have arcs that can go from success to dormancy if participants are not careful, some former Black Panthers said. To avoid that, they said long-range planning is essential.

Jones emphasized the importance of continued pressure to eliminate structural racism. “This generation is amazing. It’s the generation after the Black Panther Party who dropped the ball,” he said. “They thought they were free. They thought hard work and following the rules would gain acceptance. Racism knocked that out.”

Now that the movement has spread around the globe, it’s important to think ahead and be deliberate, he suggested. “Black Lives Matters has to be in this for the long haul.”




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Puerto Ricans for Black Lives Matter — In New York City!
Please circulate.
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U.S. global prison model: white supremacy on display

U.S. global prison model: white supremacy on display(Emory Douglass)

The United States has institutionalized white supremacist violence at home and abroad through its use of police and prisons. This does not come as revelation, but as a call to action. Whether we examine photographs coming out of El Salvador’s prisons, or surveillance software used by U.S. police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, we must be resolute in our international aims to tear down these active monuments to white supremacy.

Prisons have divided and dehumanized vast swaths of the population. Prisons disappear people after police round them up and put them there.

Police in the U.S. have been used to break up liberation movements at home and abroad for centuries. The Los Angeles Police Department and the New York Police Department in particular have sent their officers to train and be trained in places like Brazil,  the Dominican Republic, Israel, Thailand and Vietnam.

In the U.S., police began as slave patrols to capture escaped enslaved African people. A notorious policeman explained that “control, not correction, is the key. Our job is to apply emergency treatment to society’s surface wounds. We deal with effect, not causes.” (“Badges Without Borders” by Stuart Schrader) The capitalist state attempted but failed to permanently quash the revolutionary spirit of movements like the United Farm Workers and the Black Panther Party.

El Salvador: U.S exports repressive model

The U.S. model of physical social control, perfect for maintaining white supremacy and U.S. empire, was exported to other countries. This connection is on full display in shocking photographs of prisoners piled on top of one another in El Salvador during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. has had a hand in shaping El Salvador’s policing and subsequently its prison system since the early 2000s. The imperialist violence in the decades preceding this punitive export helped lay the groundwork for its prison project. Currently, El Salvador has the second highest incarceration rate in the world.  For every 100,000 people, 590 are locked up. The world’s top cop, warmonger and jailer — the U.S. — has 655 out of 100,000 incarcerated. (U.S. News & World Report, May 13, 2019)

“In 1989 School of the Americas (SOA) graduate-led massacre at the University of Central America in El Salvador shook the earth,” according to SOA Watch. “The SOA, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2001, is a U.S. military training school based in Fort Benning, Georgia. The school made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Despite this admission and hundreds of documented human rights abuses connected to soldiers trained at the school, no independent investigation into the facility has ever taken place.” (2017)

In 2002, U.S. officials chose Costa Rica to host the next branch of the International Law Enforcement Academy. A broad coalition of Costa Rican labor and human rights groups pushed for transparency and accountability clauses to be included in the deal. Instead of agreeing to these clauses, the U.S. packed up and headed for El Salvador where the U.S. State Department quietly established an ILEA in San Salvador in 2005.

The academy is part of a network of ILEAs created in 1995 under President Bill Clinton, who envisioned a series of U.S. schools “throughout the world to combat international drug trafficking, criminality, and terrorism through strengthened international cooperation. There are ILEAs in Budapest, Hungary; Bangkok, Thailand; Gaborone, Botswana; and Roswell, N.M.” (NACLA, March 6, 2008)

These police academies have been used by the U.S. all over Central and South America to further imperialist foreign policy by backing governments that allowed them to plunder as they pleased. Regime changes were extremely violent and murderous.

The destabilizing of a region politically is one of the root causes for migration to the U.S. Another cause is acceleration of the climate crisis through destruction of the environment in pursuit of profit. After migrants and refugees make the long and perilous journey, they are met with militarized U.S. law enforcement agents who were trained alongside the same forces that pushed them from their home countries.

White supremacists and policing: a despicable history

Militarized law enforcement bodies in the U.S., like local police or ICE, use surveillance tactics and technologies from companies with direct ties to white supremacists. Damien Patton, CEO of the surveillance start-up Banjo, was involved with both the White Knights and The Dixie Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Patton helped shoot up a synagogue. At his trial he testified, “We believe that the Blacks and the Jews are taking over America, and it’s our job to take America back for the White race.” (Banjo,, April 24) He has since denounced his past actions, but software he helped create and similar products are used by police and ICE for rounding up people to be caged.

White supremacist collaboration with police maintaining order is not new. According to Edwin Black in his book “IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation”: “In the 1930s and 40s, IBM — through its German holding Dehomag — provided Hitler’s regime with electronic data processing machines and support. The Nazis used the machines to efficiently conduct censuses and identify ethnic populations.”

The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network “was a U.S. government-funded project that provided the origins of today’s internet. It was designed to provide a network for the U.S. Department of Defense’s computers, until it was decommissioned, in 1990, to allow for the creation of a global network.” (, Nov. 2, 2016)

Legal professor James Q. Whitman details in his book, “Hitler’s American Model,” how the Nazis in Germany were inspired by Jim Crow segregation and U.S. laws surrounding “race-based immigration, race-based second-class citizenship, and race-based anti-miscegenation laws.” Scholar Zoé Samudzi explains that “Nazism was a colonial production of racialized space from Jewish ghettos to Lebensraum’s always imperial intentions.” Lebensraum was the German concept similar to U.S Manifest Destiny. (@ztsamudzi on Twitter, March 5, 2019)

The U.S. empire has the most violent history of institutionalizing and codifying white supremacy. This is exemplified in this moment of global pandemic, where the rapidly accelerating and completely preventable deaths of people in prisons are an act of genocide.

Logical endpoints of white supremacist discourse are mass extermination. Prisons are concentration camps for the poor, oppressed nationalities and dissenters.

The global vacuum pump that is the maintenance of imposed colonial, capitalist order is sucking all the oxygen out of us and our planet, literally and figuratively. The first to suffer and pay the steepest price are the people most oppressed by white supremacist ideology — which is designed to divide and conquer.

Abolitionists: part of historic movement

Our collective existence depends on remaking ourselves and the world around us. Abolitionists are part of the historic movement of people fighting for a new world. As one of the many political prisoners of the U.S. empire, Mumia Abu-Jamal, says, “Abolitionists are, simply put, those beings who look out upon their time and say, ‘No.’ They want to abolish state policies that they cannot abide. Slavery. Mass incarceration. The death penalty. Juvenile life. Solitary confinement. Police terrorism.” (, June 17, 2015)

Abolitionists fight against the devastating and long-lasting effects of fatal state inventions of police and prisons. They raise up the long and colorful histories of prisoners’ resistance to brutal, ongoing conditions — that have mutated from the early days of domination and destruction of land and people. Abolitionists respond to repression with a myriad of tactics and levers for social change.

They fight to redirect stolen resources toward human needs like health care, housing, safe water and food, and transforming the root causes of suffering. The Earth — and all life on it — depend on our collective ability to rapidly shift away from current oppressive structures.

Abolitionists know there is a war at home and a war abroad. They see the way the empire cages and deploys militarized forces against people here, in the same way it militarizes fictional borders and funds police and prisons in other countries. It’s the same struggle, same fight against the further codification of white supremacy. As scholar Naomi Murakawa has said, “U.S. elites built the arsenal of oppression against subversives and revolutionaries by working across national boundaries. Liberation will require the same.” (Quoted in “Badges Without Borders”)

It is incumbent upon us all, beyond our borders and within, to tear down the walls!



Holding High the Banner of Revolutionary Intercommunalism (By Chairman Shaka Zulu, NABPP and Tom “Big Warrior” Watts, National Chairman White Panther Organization of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter) 5/30/2019)

“Because the Black Panther Party is not embarrassed to change or admit error, tonight I would like to accept the criticism and say that those critics were absolutely right. We are a collection of communities just as the Korean people, the Vietnamese people, and the Chinese people are a collection of communities-a dispersed collection of communities because we have no superstructure of our own. The superstructure we have is the superstructure of Wall Street, which all of our labor produced. This is a distorted form of collectivity. Everything’s been collected but it’s used exclusively in the interest of the ruling circle. This is why the Black Panther Party denounces Black capitalism and says that all we can do is liberate our community, not only in Vietnam but here, not  only in Cambodia and the People’s Republics of China and Korea but the communities of the world.

We must unite as one community and then transform the world into a place where people will be happy, wars will end, the state itself will no longer exist, and we will have communism.” Huey P. Newton, “Speech at Boston College” (1970)

In 1970 the leadership of the original Black Panther Party made a qualitative leap on the ideological-political front-a leap from revolutionary nationalism to Marxism-Leninism and further to what Comrade Huey dubbed “Revolutionary lntercommunalism.” But it did not make this leap successfully. It did not hit the ground running. It did not consolidate as a Party around this more advanced ideological-political line organizationally. Instead, what it did was split apart into reformist and left-adventurist factions, and eventually liquidated itself as a party. We won’t say it ceased to exist, because there have continued to be Black Panthers, particularly inside the prisons, which is where the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (PC) was formed in 2005.

The NABPP (PC) was founded of the basis of revolutionary nationalism, though from the start we were conscious of Huey’s “Theory of Revolutionary lntercommunalism,” and made a serious study of it before making the leap from revolutionary nationalism to full adoption of it in 2010. Revolutionary nationalism is a “two-into-one-ism,” that is an eclectic mix of contradictory elements. In this case nationalism and socialism. They are like oil and water, and inevitably, one will divide into two. But it is how most people make the transition from bourgeois nationalism-what Huey used to call “pork-chop nationalism”-to proletarian internationalism. Generally speaking, a frog can’t sit on a lily-pad, because it won’t support his weight, but a frog can leap from one to another to reach a rock where he can perch.

Nations and nationalism belong to a specific era of history, the bourgeois (capitalist) era. There were empires under feudalism; the Spanish, the Portuguese, the French, the Dutch, the English, and so on, but not nations as such. With the rise of the bourgeois class there came the emergence of nation states. They were the product of liberal bourgeois democratic revolutions that overthrew the old feudal order. As Marx and Engels explained in the Communist Manifesto:

“The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated population, centralized the means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralization. Independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, governments, and systems of taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national class-interest , one frontier, and one customs-tariff.”

But even as nations were being formed, the development of a world market undercut the foundations of nationalism. Lenin explains: “Developing capitalism,” says Lenin, “knows two historical tendencies in the national question. First: the awakening of national life and national movements, struggle against all national oppression, creation of national states. Second: development and acceleration of all kinds of intercourse between nations, breakdown of national barriers, creation of the international unity of capital, of economic life in general, of politics, science, etc.

“Both tendencies are a world-wide law of capitalism. The first predominates at the beginning of its development, the second characterizes mature capitalism that is moving towards its transformation into socialist society” (see Vol. XVIIpp. 139-40). In other words the transformation of independent national economies into a globalized world economy with a global ruling class renders nations and nationalism obsolete. Huey dubbed this “reactionary intercommunalism.” More popularly it is known as “late capitalism” or “the Era of Neoliberalism.”

What Huey recognized was that People’s China, Vietnam, the emerging socialist countries in Afrika, etc., were not really “nations” but temporarily “liberated zones.” They could exist only as “rear areas” in a global “people’s war” in which the decisive front was here, inside the “belly of the beast.” And the decisive issue was black liberation. Mao recognized this as well. As he stated in 1963, in his “Statement Supporting the American Negroes in Their Just Struggle Against Racial Discrimination by U.S. Imperialism,” and again in 1968 in “A New Storm Against Imperialism”: “The evil system of colonialism and imperialism arose and throve with the enslavement of Negroes and the trade in Negroes, and it will surely come to its end with the complete emancipation of the black people.”

Comrade George Jackson came to the same conclusion in 1970 stating: “International capitalism cannot be destroyed without the extremes of struggle. The entire colonial world is watching the blacks inside the U.S., wondering and waiting for us to come to our senses. Their problems and struggles with the Amerikan monster are much more difficult than they would be if we actively aided them. We are on the inside. We are the only ones (besides the very small white minority left) who can get at the monster’s heart without subjecting the world to nuclear fire. We have a momentous historical role to act out if we will. The whole world for all time in the future will love us and remember us as the righteous people who made it possible for the world to live on.”

“The capitalist Eden fits my description of hell. To destroy it will require cooperation and communication between our related parts; communion between colony and colony, nation and nation. The common bond will be the desire to humble the oppressor, the need to destroy capitalist man and his terrible, ugly machine. If there were any differences between us in the black colony and the peoples of other colonies across the country, around the world, we should be willing to forget them in the desperate need for coordination against Amerikan fascism.

“We must accept the spirit of the true internationalism called for by Comrade Che Guevara….We need allies, we have a powerful enemy who cannot be defeated without an allied effort! The enemy at present is the capitalist system and its supporters. Our prime interest is to destroy them. Anyone else with this same interest must be embraced, we must work with, beside, through, over, under anyone, regardless of his or her external physical features, whose aim is the same as ours in this. Capitalism must be destroyed, and after it is destroyed, if we find we still have problems, we’ll work them out. That is the nature of life, struggle, permanent revolution; that is the situation we were born into. There are other peoples on this earth. In denying their existence and turning inward in our misery and accepting any form of racism we are taking on the characteristic of our enemy. We are resigning ourselves to defeat. For in forming a conspiracy aimed at the destruction of the system that holds us all in the throes of a desperate insecurity we must have coordinating elements connecting us and our moves to the moves of the other colonies, the African colonies, those in Asia and Latin Amerika, in Appalachia and the south-western bean fields.

“We must establish a true internationalism with other anticolonial peoples. Then we will be on the road of the true revolutionary. Only then can we expect to seize the power that is rightfully ours, the power to control the circumstances of our day-to-day lives.

“The fascist must expand to live. Consequently, he had pushed his frontiers to the farthest lands and peoples. This is an aspect of his being, an ungovernable compulsion. This perverted mechanical monster suffers from a disease that forces him to build ugly things and destroy beauty wherever he finds it.

“We must fall on our enemies, the enemies of all righteousness, with a ruthless relentless will to win! History sweeps on, we must not let it escape our influence this time!!!!”

(Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson, p 202-204, Bantam Ed., pub. 10/70)

This is the essential kernel of “Revolutionary lntercommunalism.” It is not as a disjointed collection of national liberation struggles but as a united struggle to end (by overthrowing) capitalist-imperialism that we can achieve worldwide revolutionary intercommunalism as a stepping stone to world communism. This spear must have a point and one that is right up against the throat of the beast. Together with the strength of all the oppressed people of the world we must ram this spear home and slay the monster.

With the collapse of the original BPP, a lot of revolutionary nationalist comrades slid backwards into “cultural nationalism,” and other forms of bourgeois ideology, and in general adopting a bourgeois political world view dressed up in militant posturing. It is time to end this “chicken shit” behavior and stop pretending it has anything to do with Pantherism! We should still be holding high the panther banner founded by Huey. You can’t be a black nationalist without being a white nationalist (and vice versa), and you can’t be either without being an integrationist into the bloodsucking capitalist system.

All the militant posturing in the world can’t hide that truth!

When Malcolm X said: “Show me a capitalist and I’ll show you a bloodsucker!” he was speaking the hard, cold, liberating truth! There is only one kind of capitalism and one capitalist system, and its headquarters is on Wall Street. Capitalism has only one law and that is to seek out the highest rate of profit on investments, and the “big dawgs” will eat up the “little dawgs” to concentrate wealth into ever fewer hands until the inequality of wealth is negated by socialist revolution. There is no other endgame possible and anyone who tells you different is a fool or a liar. It is late in the game now, and wealth is already well concentrated. If we’re not talking about socialist revolution, we are not revolutionaries. There are only two options, private ownership of the means of production or social ownership of the means of production. There is no third option.

National Socialism is fascism, and fascism is just the ruling class dispensing with the pretext of liberal democracy. It’s still capitalism, just no Bill of Rights.

Social Democracy is still capitalism, just with some liberal concessions. Fascism and Social Democracy do a dance number to keep the masses distracted but real revolution is not on the playbill. You can’t vote away the dictatorship of the rich, you can only overthrow it with the dictatorship of the proletariat. When we say: “All Power to the People!” this is what we’re talking about. We’re not talking about another Liberal Democratic Revolution, not even where there has yet to be one. There we are talking about a New Democratic Revolution-under the leadership of the proletariat, and then only to clear the way for Socialist Revolution and in the context of World Proletarian Socialist Revolution.

Revolutionary lntercommunalism is the recognition that we need to put the emphasis on globalized struggle and overthrow of the global capitalist empire. The system is too integrated already to do otherwise. We can’t have another American Revolution outside the context of overthrowing the global monopoly capitalist empire the U.S. has become.

Where is the U.S. military? It is in 500 military bases around the world. If we’re serious about revolution, we need to have plans to build the United Panther Movement on those bases and in the countries where those bases are located, and on the continents where those countries are located. We need to build people’s power wherever people are concentrated. We need to create revolutionary literature in every language people speak.

We need to be Pan-Afrikanists, but we also need to be Pan-Americanists, Pan-Asianists and Pan-Europeanists too. We need to apply Pantherism to all the World! We need to unite Black Panthers, Brown Panthers, and White Panthers! As Huey said: “We have two evils to defeat, capitalism and racism.” And we need to address the oppression of women and gender oppression in general! We need to end caste oppression and religious oppression! To end child exploitation and the neglect and abuse of elders! We need to create “Serve the People!” programs and “Survival Programs” that address all of the people’s needs no matter what color the people are, what language they speak or where they live. Only in this way can we defeat capitalist-imperialism and create global revolutionary intercommunalism.

Talking about doing less than this is “chicken shit!” It is saying “I only care about ‘y people,”‘ which is really saying “I only care about myself”-which is the ideology of the bourgeoisie. It is what we must defeat if anybody is going to be liberated. When it comes to honoring heroes, history is full of worthy examples of people we should honor and teach our children about. We can people’s pride forgive people for having human failings and weaknesses, but their contributions should outweigh their negative aspects. Most importantly, we should strive ourselves to be people that will inspire our children by our actions and how we represent the bright future in the struggles of today. We should be humble and honest and strive to be the “people’s pride.” That’s what being a Panther is about!