[sixties-l] !*Part 2 - WW Interview with Safiya Bukhari

From: Ron Jacobs (rjacobs@zoo.uvm.edu)
Date: Wed Jul 17 2002 - 10:10:48 EDT

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    >From: luisa brehm <lubrehm@clix.pt>
    >Date: Tue, 09 Jul 2002 17:25:43 +0100
    >From: WW <wwnews@wwpublish.com>
    > -------------------------
    > Via Workers World News Service
    > Reprinted from the July 11, 2002
    > issue of Workers World newspaper
    > -------------------------
    > PART 2
    > By Imani Henry
    > In Part 1 former political prisoner Safiya Bukhari said that
    > her personal experience with police harassment, not the
    > revolutionary program, inspired her to join the Black
    > Panther Party for Self-Defense. Her appreciation for the
    > program would develop after she joined the BPP.
    > This part of the interview focuses on the FBI's brutal
    > attack on the Panthers under Cointelpro.
    > On April 2, 1969, 21 members of the Black Panthers in New
    > York were indicted on charges of conspiring to blow up five
    > department stores, a police station, railroad tracks and the
    > Bronx Botanical Gardens. Those arrested were held on
    > $100,000 bail each. Many Panther followers and supporters
    > considered this a form of "ransom bail" used by the district
    > attorney and the court system to keep freedom fighters in
    > jail throughout the protracted trial process. On May 13,
    > 1971, after mass protests, they were acquitted of all the
    > trumped-up charges. The Panther 21 defendants included Afeni
    > Shakur, mother of the late rap artist Tupac Shakur.
    > Fred Hampton, at the age of 20, became leader of the Chicago
    > chapter of the BPP. From his work with the free health care
    > clinic to the free breakfast program to organizing community
    > control of the police, he evolved into a beloved leader of
    > the Black community. On Dec. 4, 1969, Chicago police
    > assassinated Hampton while he was sleeping, along with Mark
    > Clark. Four other Panthers were also shot, beaten and
    > arrested. Hampton had just been appointed to the Party's
    > Central Committee as chief of staff.
    > Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins were both indicted and later
    > acquitted of murder charges in the death of a police
    > informant.
    > SAFIYA BUKHARI: I tell people straight up that it was the
    > New York Police Department that made me decide to join the
    > Black Panther Party. In college I supported the war in
    > Vietnam. I was so far to the right it was ridiculous. I was
    > writing essays on "Why we should be in Vietnam." But by the
    > time the summer of 1969 was over, in November, I was in the
    > party.
    > That's why I got involved. If these police are supposed to
    > be the protectors of the community and they're violating
    > rights, then somebody has to stand up and speak up against
    > it.
    > We saw several attacks that came down so quickly with the
    > Cointelpro program. Everything was just geared to making
    > sure that we did not get a chance to work step by step
    > through stages of political education, to organize in the
    > community in the method that would have insured that the
    > masses of the people would have been involved in our
    > movement by the time it came to the stage of armed struggle.
    > SB: As part of my work, we did community self-defense,
    > community organizing, the breakfast programs, the liberation
    > schools. I did welfare rights organizing. The welfare rights
    > organization that came into existence came out of a lot of
    > the work we did organizing welfare mothers. I sold papers in
    > my community because papers were very important. That's how
    > you got the information out. I taught political education
    > classes.
    > And soon I was given a section. My section was 125th to
    > 116th streets from 7th Avenue to 1st Avenue. That's a big
    > section, but we didn't think that it was going to happen
    > overnight. So I would spend a lot of time out in the
    > community organizing. Be aware of what's going on in your
    > community and make your daily reports of what you
    > encountered. That's how you learned about the community that
    > you lived in and the issues that affected your community.
    > Basicly we organized on whatever were the needs of the
    > community. I remember this sister had gotten raped and we
    > went to work with her and the person who attacked said they
    > were coming back, and so we set up this sting to catch the
    > person who had raped this sister.
    > SB: Well, during this time the Panther 21 were on trial. A
    > big part of the organizing was to make sure the courtroom
    > was filled and money was there for their legal defense.
    > The 21 were basically the leadership of the New York chapter
    > of the party prior to them getting captured. They thought
    > that by taking the leadership away they would destroy the
    > New York chapter of the party.
    > IH: So was the raid on the office?
    > SB: No, on their homes. Simultaneously, all these people
    > were arrested almost at the same time, during the early
    > morning that day.
    > IH: So this is a perfect example of Cointelpro-a systematic
    > raid on everyone's home, 21 people.
    > SB: Actually, 1969 was a very bad year for the party. 1969
    > was the year Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed in
    > Chicago. Also during this time Panther leaders Bobby Seale
    > and Erica Huggins were arrested in New Haven, Conn. Huey
    > Newton was already in jail and BPP Minister of Information
    > Eldridge Cleaver was forced into exile.
    > There was like a command coming from somewhere in the party
    > on what to do. So even though we were doing the community
    > programs, the government's operation to destroy the party
    > continued. Most of the time I was in the party, the issue of
    > political prisoners was the major thing because we had
    > Panther trials going on all over the country.
    > So if they weren't already on trial, their offices were
    > being raided and more people were going to jail. The media
    > were televising raids on Panther offices.
    > By 1971, the government's dissemination of false information
    > played upon internal contradictions within the organization
    > that brought a split in the party and basically the
    > disintegration of the party.
    > [Next--Part 3.]
    > - END -
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