Today in history: April 2, 1969 - The Panther 21, which included many of leaders of the Black Panther Party in New York City, were arrested in a pre-dawn raid and charged with a conspiracy to blow up the New York Botanical Gardens, department stores, and other high profile places.
A powerful mass movement arose and fought to Free the Panther 21. On May 13, 1971, after the longest political trial in New York’s history, all 21 New York Panthers were acquitted of all charges in just 45 minutes of jury deliberation. The acquittal of the Panther 21 was a major political setback and embarrassment for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and the New York Police intelligence unit which extensively infiltrated and disrupted the Black Panther Party’s community programs. The case of the Panther 21 is a key example of police infiltration and political repression in the U.S.
(image: Demonstration outside court house for the Panther 21 trial, NYC, 1969)
Via Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back!)
And let’s hear it for YAWF banners! Youth Against War & Fascism is almost always omitted from movement “histories” of the 60s, but is always visible in photos. #CoverupFail
“Among the many causes the activist Ruby Dee championed were the Black Panthers. Here the actress speaks at a 1969 press conference during the trial of the Panther 21, the leadership of the east coast membership of the Black Panther Party, who were on trial for conspiracy and other charges for which they were all ultimately acquitted.
Lawyer, lecturer, feminist, and radical activist Florynce 'Flo’ Kennedy was a leading figure in both the second wave feminist and Black Power movements of the 60s and 70s. Outspoken, controversial, and media savvy, and an early champion of intersectionality in protest, Kennedy is credited with influencing such famous white feminists as Gloria Steinem, as well as advocating fiercely for Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale.
Born in 1916, Kennedy was raised by parents that encouraged her and her sisters to speak their minds and have high self-esteem. After the death of her mother, she moved to New York City, applying for Columbia Law School, where she was initially rejected due to her gender. Threatening to take her case to the NAACP and file a lawsuit, she was admitted, becoming the only Black person in her class. After graduating, she opened her own law firm in 1954, representing such clients as the estate of Billie Holiday and civil rights leader H. Rap Brown, before turning to political activism. She organized rallies, protests, and events for women, minorities, and the poor, including a mass women’s urination at Harvard to protest their lack of women’s bathrooms. In 1967 she jumped onstage and grabbed a mic at a rally against the Vietnam War, leading to a 30-year lecturing career.
One of her major wins was the acquittal of 21 Black Panther members on trial for conspiracy to commit bombings in 1969, and that same year she also organized a group of feminist lawyers to challenge the constitutionality of New York State’s abortion law, which led to the eventual overturning of the law and the legalization of abortion in New York state in 1970. She went on to co-found the National Black Feminist Organization, the National Women’s Political Caucus, and the National Organization for Women.
With sunrise more than an hour away, eight police officers from the Cook County state’s attorney’s office crept to the front of a tattered two-flat on Chicago’s West Side. Another six officers were at the back door. Inside, nine people slept in the first-floor apartment, where 19 guns and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition were stored. This apartment, at 2337 W. Monroe St., was a stronghold of the Illinois Black Panther Party, a branch of a national group known for revolutionary politics.
About 4:45 a.m., Sgt. Daniel Groth knocked on the front door. When there was no answer, he knocked with his gun. The next seven minutes of gunfire became one of the most hotly disputed incidents of the turbulent 1960s. After the shooting stopped, Illinois Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, 21, and a party leader from Peoria, Mark Clark, 22, were dead.
The Chicago police department and the FBI murdered Fred Hampton.