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July 03, 1968 - Image 4

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Oakland's Black Panthers: A brief history

s4e Efr i9an Daitn
Seventy-seven years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students of the University of Michigan
under authority of Board in Control of Student Publications

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mich.

News Phone: 764-05521

Editorials printed in The Michigan Doily exp ress the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.



Interim rules ...0

Liberation News Service
OAKLAND, Cal. - Anyone curi-
ous about the meaning of
white racism should study the
short history of Oakland's Black
Panther Party. White responses to
the party over the past year form
a remarkable picture of institu-
tional racist action against a
group that still conceives of itself
more as a political party than as
guerrilla army - though circum-
stances may be changing that self-
The major institutions involved
so far are the news media, the po-
lice, and the state legislature; and
the media are partly to blame for
the activities of the police, since
their consistently distorted picture
of the Panthers has influenced
Officer Edward Coyn of the
Berkeley Police admitted as much
at a recent hearing in the Bobby
Salerweapons case. Coyn testified
that before he participated in the
Feb. 25 raid on Seale's home, he
had heard "the standard Seale
speech" on television several
times. This speech, Coyn said,
covered "police brutality," "we 're
gonna fight back," and "we're
gonna get what's ours."

SEALE DOES indeed say these
things. But he also says, and it is
rarely reported and never em-
phasized, that the Panthers are
not racists, that they believe in
law, order and justice (though
justice does not presently exist
for black people in white courts),
and that their fight is with the
power structure, not with white
people generally. They are seek-
ing real political power for black
people, and this means, basically,
control of all government agencies
that operate in their community-
schools, police, social welfare units,
etc. They believe that "govern-
ment by the people" means just
The institutions that are trying
to neutralize the Panthers are
aware of this. But they know that
government by the people entails
a radical change in the status
quo. And so they have marshalled
their forces to prevent this change
from taking place.
After the Panthers marched in-
to the state legislature carrying
guns, to protest a bill aimed speci-
fically at disarming them, San
Francisco Police Chief Thomas
Cahill said, "If the Black Pan-
thers can swagger around with
loaded weapons, others will get

the idea they can do the same
thing. . . . Some place along the
line there's going to have to be
control over when people can do
these things. Otherwise we are
going to have a revolution."
Though he camouflaged the polit-
ical import of his remarks with
the image of the "swaggering" up-
pity nigger, it is clear that Cahill
feared not random violence but
incipient political power, not
"riots" but "revolution." He is an
astute man.
headlines when they escorted Bet-
ty Shabazz, widow of Malcolm X,
around the Bay Area visibly car-
rying arms. "Local cops were
dumbfounded to discover that
there was no law which prohibited
the Panthers from carrying load-
ed weapons so long as they were
unconcealed, a legal fact which
the Panthers had carefully re-
searched," Sol Sternwrote in the
June 1967 Ramparts.
Three factors about this early
incident are noteworthy. First,
Betty Shabazz's husband was gun-
ned down in public, so the Pan-
thers were not showing paranoia
by protecting her (though New
York police claimed that he re-

fused their protection, "during
the week preceding his assassina-
tion Malcolm X complained re-
peatedly that the police would not
take his requests for protection
seriously." - Epilogue to Auto-
biography of Malcolm X). Second,
the Panthers made a careful at-
tempt to avoid breaking laws.
Third, police (armed men) were
dismayed tocdiscover that black
men would carry arms with the
same impunity they enjoy them-
founder and Defense Minister,
was quoted in Ramparts as saying,
"Ninety per cent of the reason
we carried guns in the first place
was educational. We set the ex-
ample. We made black people
aware that they have the right to
carry guns.'
So Newton knew that to gain
leverage in the; psychological
power struggle between black men
and white men, black men had to
carry guns. Thus they would teach
society-in its own terms-that
black men are men. The Memphis
garbage striker wears a sandwich
board that says, "I am a man.",
The Black Panther carries a gun.

NE OF THE ironies of the ongoing ef-
forts to devise workable regulations
on disruptive student conduct is that
the impatience of the faculty and the
administration to have legislation on the
books is triggering conditions which make
student disruptions more likely. (See edi-
torial below.)
As the ad hoc committee charged with
implementing the proposals of the Hatch-
er Commission continues its slow work,
the Senate Advisory Committee on Uni-
versity Affairs and the faculties of two
colleges have been moving toward in-
terim rules.
SACUA has asked the Regents to en-
act rules on disruption in lieu of a by-
law establishing the proposed University
The law school has passed rules for flaw
students which will be in effect until
Oct. 1.
The literary college since last October
has been formulating a position which
would view student disruptions as "aca-
demic misconduct," and hence subject
to discipline by the college's administra-
tive board.
THESE ACTIONS are regrettable, and
regrettable for reasons of which the
bodies involved are apparently aware.
SACUA's statement to the Regents
warned faculty members that to devise
other new interim rules "might interfere
with the present spirit of cooperation
which characterizes the work of imple-
menting the Presidential Commission
In a letter which appeared on this
page yesterday, Law School Prof. Robert
Harris wrote, "It strikes me as unfortun-
ate, to say the least, that rules and ma-
chinery for the regulation of student
conduct must be adopted in the summer,
when the normal channels for student
participation in the making of such de-
cisions is at a minimum."
Thus, it must be assumed that a re-
sponsible segment of the faculty under-
stands the rationale against interim
rules. Nevertheless, SACUA and the two
colleges are supporting interim rules.
Their reasons for doing so are both di-
verse and unconvincing.
s ACTJA acted in response to the growing
Regental impatience with delays in
preparing the bylaws indicated in a com-
munication from President Fleming. To
avoid arousing student reaction, SACUA
merely lifted the rules on disruptive be-
havior which Student Government Coun-
cil passed last October (after it had de-
clared University rules nullified) and

proposed that the Regents adopt the SGC
rules as interim bylaws.
Yet that action merely crystallizes the
questions: If SACUA acknowledged the
existence of the student-passed rules,
and was willing to live by them, why were
new rules necessary? Was there indeed
a legislative vacuum which needed to be
Yes, SACUA answered, because Joint
Judiciary Council, the student court,
lacked legitimate authority; its penalties
would not stand in civil courts.
BUT THAT answer only raises further
questions. Why does JJC lack legiti-
mate authority? The exact origins of
JJC are under dispute, to be sure; but the
one thing which is certain is that one or
another section of the sprawling Office
of Student Affairs, which has a clear
mandate from the Regents to preside over
non-academic student conduct, delegate
its power to adjudicate such cases to JJC.
Although a majority of the members of
JJC in the spring of 1967 pledged to en-
force only student-made rules, as far as
anybody knows the OSA has at no time
repudiated its delegation of authority to
the student court. The OSA has long rec-
ognized the right of students to be judged
by their peers.
IT IS THE violation of this principle that
is the most distressing thing about the
move to interim rules. If SACUA wants
the Regents to make SGC rules official
University bylaws, that is fine. The ques-
tion is, who will adjudicate cases under
those bylaws. If JJC, then SACUA has not
accomplished its stated purpose: to avoid
putting JJC's "questionable authority" on
the line. If faculty judiciaries, then the
University's recognition of the right to
trial by peers is undermined. For al-
though students hold seats on some of
the faculty judiciaries, in none of them
do they hold the balance.
The other approach, being pursued by
the literary college, raises similar ob-
jections, only more so. There the rules in
question are in no way student-made.
And the judiciary, the administrative
board of the college, has only two student
The point is that, until the bylaws are
adopted by the Regents, rules governing
disruptive conduct and a mechanism to
enforce them do exist. The rules have
been made by students, and the judiciary
is run by students. To pass other interim
rules is both unnecessary and provoca-

Resurrection C as succ and slum

as an appeal to to the sen-
sibilities, it was for being so bril-
liant a success as an embodiment
of the complaint behind the Poor
People's Campaign.
In six weeks the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference
managed to run the whole course
of decay of an American slum;
and what ought to have been a
reproach became an excuse for
dismissal as an affront.
Morning came to Resurrection
City as mornings do in the slums,
with the brief, almost cheerful
stir of the housekeeping which
constitutes the day's only purpose-
ful activity. But, with the after-
noon, the sadness of another day
going by with nothing to show
crept over every visible form and
there was nothing except boredom
of the scuffy parks in Newark.
THERE HAD fallen upon this
City of the Poor what comes over
a man the day he stops looking
for a pob. Its quiet inhabitants
were in their houses, having no
door stoops; its unquiet ones had
invented a street corner in the
mud. The voluntary gatekeeper of
any bad block is always a social
casualty. He may meet the visitor
with hand extended asking for

Marty and his friend Flo

and what may happen

ACTIONS such as those taken by the
literary college, the Law School, and
SACUA to fill what they consider to be
a void in student conduct rules looms
as a potential source of strife that could
split the University in the coming aca-
demic year.
By choosing to draw up "interim rules"
while the formation of a student judiciary
and rules system is still under the thumb
of an ad hoc commission, these bodies
have exercised a risky breach of faith.
Back in October of 1966, the student
power crisis that erupted out of Vice
President Richard Cutler's sit-in ban
evolved into the Hatcher Commission.
The mutual understanding between stu-
dent leaders and the administration was
that the Commission, composed of facul-
ty, students, and representatives of the
administration, would come up with a
workable solution to the problem of stu-
dent rules and regulations.
E COMMISSION report has been is-
sued, complete with recommendations
that would provide for a solid student
voice in the drafting and adjudication of
conduct rules. But, as details are cur-
rently being worked out, the Law School,
the literary college, and SACUA have
jumped the gun and composed rules of
their own.
&ktk StMU I a Outi
Second class postage paid at Ann Arbor, Micblgan,
420 Maynard St.. Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48104.
nD.91v P- it. iil- ar V n rlav i..-n . .r-., .

The implications are clear. The Uni-
versity in October, 1966, was a relatively
docile place; just the year before, the
13,000 students who signed petitions for
a student-run book store followed up the
University's refusal to establish one with
barely a picket line. Protest in Ann Arbor
was vocal at times, but only manifest in
small numbers. That SGC President Ed
Robinson could have spearheaded such a
large movement over the sit-in ban may
be due to his particular attributes as a
leader, but it was probably more the
result of the students' concern with the
conduct of their own lives.
NOW, ALONG with the development of
the Hatcher Commission, there has
also come the development of an in-
creased student militancy. What hap-
pened at Columbia this year could not
have happened there two years ago; what
may happen in Ann Arbor this year is
unpredictable, but the general trend of
student activism has been upward.
Additionally, concessions made by the
University administration in relation to
student life (easing curfew regulations,
for instance) have increased, and irate
legislators who scream when the admin-
istration grants the students their wishes
may be right in saying that it does not
appease them, that it only whets their
appetite for more.
Couple these two factors with the ques-
tionable rules-making of two of the Uni-
versity's colleges and the call for inter-
im bylaws by its supreme faculty body,j
and no doubt there will be protest. The

QUEENS-Summer in the city
means "get a job" and help
pay foruthe University'snextra-
vagant out-of-state tuitions.
We sell. Every day we drive
from our downtown office to an
urban lower-middle class Negro
section of New Jersey to sell ed-
ucational materials door-to-door.
The biggest problem is finding
an apartment where a parent is
home. I knocked on over forty
doors in Rahway Thursday and
at about five of the homes they
wouldn't let me in because there
were no adults. Behind the doors
I could hear the sounds of chil-
dren wondering whether to open
up. Sometimes they do.
"No, she's at work."
Other times a .neighbor or a
relative stays with the children.
"Good morning, I have a ques-
tionaire for mothers of young
children. Could you fill it out?"
"Oh, I'm not their mother, she's
working." We can only sell to par-
ents, so I move down the street.
We give away educational mate-
rials including four sets of books
designed to get the child interest-
ed in learning and help him get
through school. "Maybe he can
win a scholarship to college. These
books will help him, don't you
think so?"
We give away the books on the
condition that the parent agrees
to keep the set current for ten
years. This is done by buying an
annual volume for $24.50 each.
"Only 48 cents a week. But what
we do is we give you this bank.
It teaches the child thrift. If you
drop in only two or three dimes
a day you can pay the whole thing
in two years. Then we give you
this Negro history as a bonus. Or
you can have the Negro history
right away and take the atlas as
a bonus."
Flo says we go to Negro neigh-
borhoods because they are the
easiest to sell. Many Negroes are
very interested in seeing their chil-
dren get through high school and
maybe college.
"These books will help them,

cause I write for the school news-
paper. Flo dislikes almost everyone
else in the car and drops them
off in neighborhoods where it is
hard to make a sale.
"It's very good territory, Leon-
ard. Good luck." Almost everyone
in our car hates Flo.
President. "Actually, I just want a
Republican to win. The Democrats
give away too much money." Flo
thinks the welfare program is too
extensive. She says the women we
see who have illegitimate children
shouldn't get welfare. "After the
second child, anyway," she adds
Friday we worked in Newark.
A Negro woman answered the door
and, at my request, very cordially
invited me in. She had four chil-
dren but her husband was "de-
ceased" and she was very interest-
ed in the program. Then I found
out she doesn't work. "The chil-
dren are comning and going to
school all day and I can't," she
explained. But I couldn't sell to
her because we don't sell to people
on welfare.
"Oh, I can't offer the program
if no one is working."
She understood but I still felt
like I was slamming the door in
her face when I left. As overpriced
as the books may be, they still
represent a needed investment
which the parents probably
wouldn't make if it were not
brought to their doors.
THERE ARE TWO problems
facing the nation which must be
solved immediately-the war and
the condition of Negroes. If Nixon
To the Editor:
1 WAS disappointed to see Prof.
Harris' letter (Daily, July 2)
concerning the interim change of
rules' recently enacted by the Law
School. His attempt to make in-
terference by the faculty in non-
academic discipline more accept-
able to students merely under-
scored the most noxious aspect of

is elected, the 17-year-old son
of the Newark widow stand a
chance of dying either in Vietnam
or during the city's next riot.
(Newark was second only to De-
troit during the 1967 riot season.)
Humphrey will at least try to
give him half a chance, through
massive spending in the ghetto.
Of course, if the war continues-
as seems likely under a Humphrey
administration-there will not be
any money to spend.
McCarthy would give us the best
chance of solving both problems.
He would get the country out of
Vietnam fairly quickly and try to
channel the money spent there
into the ghetto. He might even
get some of it past a tight-pursed
All the sellers in our car are
in their late teens or early twen-
ties and we all hate Flo for liking
Nixon. But she is not alone.
In fact, there are more Nixon
people in this country than Mc-
Carthy people, and more Nixon
people than Humphrey people. So
we have a choice:rcoalition or
One thing is clear. There will be
no revolution in 1968. There are
just too many Flo's, just too many
Humphrey people, just too many
middle-class people who ride the
subways for two hours a day and
never even read a newspaper.
The choice is Nixon and a thiud
party, or the Democratic candi-
date, probably Humphrey. For
those who wish to go outside the
system, there is only one profit-
able direction: north to Canada.
I'll stick around for a while. But,
who knows, I may join them by
Inauguration Day.
RiIu les
notion, I should merely point out
that Columbia had more anti-
interference rules than we have
and that during this "interim
period" Michigan has remained
one of the most peaceful cam-
puses in the country.
What created this "interim per-
iod?" Prof. Harris states that in
April, 1967, "general University

16 cents, beggars being always
precise to the penny in the slums.
Or he may meet you with a furi-
ous hostility; in the public life
of the slum, there seems to be
nothing between the wheedle and
the snarl. There is, in either case,
the same smell of whine.
The slum has no interior gov-
ernment, being always directed, if
it can be said to have direction,
by persons who do not live there.
The directors of the Poor People's
March did not, in most cases, live
in Resurrection City, governing as
absentee healers not much differ-
ent in effect from the absentee
oppressors whom more permanent
slums think of as their governors.
WHAT THIS government said
about the social services available
there seemed to have about as
much to do with the reality as it
usually has in the slums. The day
care center was empty; the poor
did not seem to attend the con-
ferences on the problems of pover-
ty any more than they would at
There was none of the fancied
exhilaration of improvised adven-
ture; the residents simply made
do. They met the basic challenges;
men drained ditches and put down
boards; women cooked; adoles-
cents scrawled on boards. Pride
displayed itself in hostility to the
voyeur; but there was no vanity,
no sense of usefulness of ornament
-just languor even in the fierce-
ness, and drift even in the de-
They had withdrawn into them-
selves. Hosea Williams, director of
demonstrations, was frank to re-
member how many he had called
where nobody showed up except
himself. The managers of the Poor
People's March were mostly
Southerners, accustomed to con-
stituents who, when called to the
courthouse to protest, knows where
it is and what it does; but these
were the urban defeated, as timid
about leaving their block as they
are ferocious in its defense.
AND YET the whole adventure
was rather a success; perhaps it
is no failurein America to have
been unable to mount a purifying
revelation so long as you manage
to create a nuisance. President
Johnson's Administration seems to
have yielded to a great many of
the campaign's demands, a major-
ity of them pitifully modest.
But there remained the inex-
pressible demands of that great
agony which the City of the Poor
so poignantly and unattractively
evoked In its deterioration. Dark-
ness would fall; the loudspeaker
would blither about this being
Resurrection City where there
were no policemen and no land-
lords; and, over everything, you
would feel the sad certainty that
now the unquiet few would begin
to prey upon the quiet many. It
is hard not to believe that the
police moved in and closed the
city at a signal from its managers,
who despaired of another way
decorously to wind it up. No one
in this slum or any other knew
any answer to its desperate extre-
mity except to call the cops.
(Copyright 1968-New York Post Corp.)
do accept our abolition of their
Student-made rules now exist
which restrict disruptive and de-
structive activity by students, and
JJC is bound to uphold these rules
and punish students who violate
them. JJC has much more legiti-
macy among students than any
academic unit's court when it
nmma # . nn_ aomi rnl -,hi

Which sign do most American be-
But what was the result of legal,
educational gun carrying? Repub-
lican Assemblyman Don Mulford
of Piedmont (the wealthy, white
suburb in the hills above Oakland)
turned out to be the real educator.,
He taught black people that they
can't get away with legal shows of
strength for long. M u 1 f o r d
promptly sponsored a bill "pro-
hibiting instruction in the use of
firearms. for the purpose of riot-
ing, and prohibiting the carrying
of loaded firearms on public
streets and in public places by all
except peace officers, guards, and
members of the armed forces."
The phrase "for the purpose of
rioting' is the key. For, as every-
one knows, rioting is a specifically
Negro activity. Mulford -- who
had previously opposed all at-
tempts at gun-control legislation
-wasn't hiding his target. And
no one knew that better than
Huey Newton.
SO NEWTON organized the
famed May 2 1967 march on the
legislature, a traditional protest in
which no one was injured. But the
marchers were carrying the sym-
bols of power-the same kind of
power used by our government
from Vietnam to Newark to en-
force its will. They met the gov-
ernment not as supplicants but as
equals, and the established power
structure-from Ronald Reagan
to The New York Times-was ter-
Police were frustrated because
the Panthers had again acted le-
gally. It appeared they could not
be arrested. But finally Sacra-
mento police dug up in the Fish
and Game Code a provision that
prohibits loaded guns in a vehicle.
Though the law in intended as a
safety measure for hunters, police
caught up with the Panthers at
a gas station as they were having
their cars serviced on the way
home, and arrested 25 of them for
Fish and Game violations. It is
important to note that the Pan-
thers did not resist arrest, al-
though they were heavily armed
and present in large numbers.
Nonetheless, the front page of
the May 4, 1967, San Francisco
Chronicle quoted Assemblyman
Joe Gonsalves as saying the Pan-
thers were "a band of fanatics."
The Chronicles of May 3, 4, and 5
all called the party a "militantly
anti-white organization," in an
obvious attempt to arouse public
and police opinion against the
group. And the May 7 New York
Times lead editorial, entitled "The
Spirit of Lawlessness," compared
the Panthers' march with Lurleen
Wallace's challenge to federal
courts to enforce the school dese-
gregation order. Yet the Panthers
had made every effort to keep
their actions within the law.
IN THEIR editorial, the Times
put the name "Black Panthers" in
quotation marks (though I have
not noticed that they similarly
cast doubt on the legitimacy of
"Democrats," "Republicans," and
other members of political par-
ties), but conceded that "Negroes
at least can point to acts of illegal
violence against members of their
race in the South and to a long
history of discrimination every-
where in the nation. That history
can explain but not justify..
the 'black power' zealots." The
Times did not offer any alterna-
tives to the Panthers' legal, but
"lawless" methods. It did, how-
ever, urge that all citizens "up-
hold the laws."
The May 5 Chronicle, in an ar-
ticle about a pro-Panther rally at
San Francisco State, not only put
"Black Panthers" in quotation
marks, it put "black people" in
quotes-suggesting that so-called
black people are really just the
old, familiar "Negroes." Further-
more, the article said that LeRoi
Jones, who spoke at the rally,
"affects loud clothes, a beard, and

a Jomo Kenyatta hat." Has the
Chronicle ever said that Governor
Reagan "affects wavy brown hair,
a blue gabardine suit, and a Mic-
key Spillane belted french coat"?
The current rash of police of
last year harrassment and violence
against the Panthers must be
seen in context. 'In September of
last year, the Mulford bill became
law and is the basis for many
recent Panther arrests. In other
cases, ancient, unused laws have
been resurrected and applied to
Panthers. According to Kathleen
Cleaver, Panther Communications
Secretary, a black nember of a
local police force told the Pan-
thers on the day Bobby Hutton
was killed that the San Francisco,
Berkeley, and Oakland police were
planning to destroy the Panthers'
Malcolm X was a leader who
posed the same kind of political
threat, and who was also sys-
tematically misinterpreted and
quoted out of context by the me-
dia. Shortly before his death, Mal-
cplm went to France for a speak-
in engagement, and was informed
by the French government that
he was persona non grata; he was
prevented from speaking. Stokely'
Carmichael received similar treat
ment in France last year. Malcolm
knew that the Black Muslims did
not have the power to press the
French government to silence
him. And the Panthers know that
therenemy is not merely +he


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