From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Tue Jul 17 2001 - 16:19:25 EDT

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    July 17, 2001 redpoet@swbell.net Volume 2001.31


    On October 30, 1969, 29 year old Pete O'Neal, local leader of the Black
    Panther Party in Kansas City was arrested and charged for violating the Gun
    Control Act by taking a shotgun from Kansas to Missouri. One year later a
    jury found him guilty and sentenced him to four years in prison. But there
    was something funny about O'Neal's gun. When he was arrested, he didn't
    actually have it. According to the petition, police had confiscated it nine
    months earlier from a fellow Black Panther named Archie Weaver. It was
    subsequently sold by a police dispatcher and had to be tracked down to make
    a case against O'Neal. The only evidence connecting O'Neal to the gun
    during his criminal trial was the testimony of his landlord. She claimed
    that in January 1969 O'Neal came to her apartment in Kansas City and showed
    her husband the rifle. She told jurors O'Neal claimed to have bought it at
    Sam's Loan Shop in KCK. (Her husband never testified and it has since
    turned out that the landlord was being paid by the cops). The real reason
    for his arrest and conviction were, of course, his political beliefs and
    his determination to struggle for justice for African Americans and others.
    O Neal, long the target of threats from the authorities in Kansas City,
    fled the country first for Algeria and finally along with his family to
    Tanzania. "It would be a rare day indeed when I was not stopped by the
    police," O'Neal says. Court affidavits support his claim: "If Pete had been
    caught alone by a white police officer, I believe he would have been in
    danger," said Thomas Saunders, a former detective who served in the Kansas
    City police department's intelligence unit at the time of O'Neal's arrest.
    O'Neal is said to be the only former Black Panther still remaining in
    Africa. For more than twenty-five years O'Neal has been living in the
    Tanzanian village of Imabaseni as a respected elder, loving husband, doting
    father, a community activist, an exemplary farmer. According to the Kansas
    Star, O'Neal "has helped bring electricity, running water and tourists to
    his poor, remote village. He has taught his neighbors about electronics,
    carpentry and food preservation and has introduced them to art, poetry,
    music and dance." Pete O Neal was not on the list of those pardoned by
    President Clinton. On March 1, his lawyer, Paul J. Magnarella of Florida,
    filed a petition at the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas, calling
    for O'Neal's conviction to be overturned and for a new trial. In it,
    Magnarella cites new evidence he uncovered in a used-book store that
    contradicts a federal agent's testimony in O'Neal's trial. "Any reasonable
    judge who considers the petition on its merits will come to the conclusion
    that Pete O'Neal did not receive a fair trial, that his constitutional
    rights were violated and his conviction should be vacated," Magnarella
    says. Pete has not wasted away in Tanzania. They became African American
    pioneers in their ancestral homeland, learning about windmills, farming,
    raising livestock, and appropriate technology as they began to develop
    their homestead on the slopes of Mt. Meru in Imbaseni, a rural village in
    the heart of the traditional homeland of the WaMeru tribe. He and his wife
    Charlotte Hill O'Neal founded The United African American Community Center
    (UAACC) in 1991. The United African American Community Center was founded
    for the expressed purpose of sharing and disseminating knowledge in areas
    relevant to the promotion of creative, productive and wholesome lifestyles.
    UAACC puts much of its emphasis on serving youth, the leaders of tomorrow,
    and they have originated many programs designed to inspire and give a sense
    of empowerment to the youth in both village and urban settings. UAACC
    organizes year round workshops dealing with health and nutrition,
    conservation, AIDS education, essay contests, art appreciation, crafts,
    history and computer literacy. The internationally acclaimed UAACC Heal the
    Community Project established by Pete O'Neal in 1994, promotes cultural and
    educational linkages between African people on the Continent and African
    people of the Diaspora. The ongoing Heal the Community Project has programs
    throughout the year involving youth from all across America who come to
    Arusha to participate in extensive cultural immersion programs and
    exchanges designed to facilitate the strengthening of positive global
    community ties among all people of diverse cultures, nationalities and
    races. "What we do now is really a continuation of the work that we were
    doing nearly three decades ago as members of the Black Panther Party," Pete
    O'Neal says. It is time that justice be served in the case of Pete O'Neal.
    It is time that he be allowed to return home to visit his family and
    friends, many of whom he has not seen for decades.

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