THE MICH IGAN DAILY
TALKING WITH GENIE PLAMONDON
White Panthers: New nam
By CHRIS PARKS
For the last three years, the name of
the White Panther Party has been assoc-
iated throughout the country with high
energy music, communal life-style and
the underground youth movement in gen-
Some people, however, have tied
the name to conspiracies, bombings, and
Several weeks ago, in an attempt to
divorce itself from any associations with
violence, the White Panthers became the
Rainbow People's Party.
According to party Minister of Com-
munications Genie Plamondon, the new
name comes from a series of Indian
legends in which warriors of all colors rise
up to throw off the "bonds of the white
oppressors." All the people of the world
are "warriors of the rainbow," she says.
The change in name was caused by a
need to "relate to people what we really
are about," Plamondon says. And what
the party is about, she continues, is pro-
viding service to the youth community in
Ann Arbor. The change in name be-
came necessary to clarify the party's
image for those "people who think we're
involved in violent revolution".
The revolution that concerns the Rain-
bow party, according to Plamondon, is
a revolution in life-style, and the basic
doctrines of the party center a r o u n d
freedom of expression of the youth com-
munity. "Your life-style is your politics,"
Plamondon says, "and we choose a revo-
The party's roots in the "life-style re-
volution" and the "counter culture"
stretch back several years to D e tro it,
before the party as such was formed.
Before there was a White Panther
Party, Plamondon explains, the group
that formed the nucleus for the party,
including founder John Sinclair, was
working in Artists Workshops in Detroit.
These workshops were involved with
building what she calls an "alternative
culture." They sponsored poetry read-
ings, jazz concerts and gen rally helped
Since that time, however, a series of ar-
rests has seriously crippled the party's
John Sinclair, founder of the party
was convicted in 1969 of possession of
marijuana and is currently serving a 9-
10 year sentence. While serving t h a t
sentence, Sinclair, along with party mem-
bers Pun Plamondon and Jack Forest,
face conspiracy charges stemming from
the 1968 bombing of the Ann Arbor of-
fices of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Plamondon also is charged with doing
the actual bombing. Both charges carry
with them a five-year prison sentence and
$10,000 in fines if they are convicted.
Federal District Court Judge Doman
Keith has ruled that the government used
illegal wire taps in obtaining evidence in
the case. The ruling, however, is being
appealed by the government to the Su-
preme Court and a final ruling is not ex-
pected at least until December.
Meanwhile, the three remain in jail,
along with a fourth party member Skip
Taube who has been accused of harboring
Genie Plamondon, Pun Plamondon's
wife, claims the charges are "phony"
and that the real reason the party mem-
bers are in jail is due to the government's
"fear of what we represent."
"A big part of the threat we are is just
because we are the children of the people
in power," she says. "And we are not going
to continue the same sort of life-style
and make the same mistakes they made,"
The shift in name, however, signifies
the party's attempt to erase the image of
violence and emphasize a stance as a
community service organization.
The Rainbow party is currently operat-
ing a food coop in which people can buy
fresh vegetables and fruit at a reduced
rate. They hope to go even further this
summer, providing food, clothing, and
shelter on a large scale for the young
people who traditionally flock to the city
in the summer.
See PANTHERS, Page 12
to support young artists who were work-
ing in new and unconventional forms.
The formation of the party itself, she
says, resulted from a call by Huey New-
ton, Black Panther minister of defense,
for a White Parther Party to work spec-
itically with the white community. "We
just decided that we would be the party,"
The party was based on the belief that
young people constitute a culture in
themselves. "A people are defined by
their history, language, clothing, music,
poetry and sacraments," Plamundon says.
The party views American youth as a
"colonized people," a view that stems from
what Plamundon calls the "exploitation
of our energies" by commercial enter-
prises which package and sell the clothes,
music and other paraphernalia of the
The original group was set up as a
national party but its founders did not,
according to Plamundon, "know what it
meant to be a party."
Many problems arose out of this, first
among them being a lack of basic organi-
zational strength and leadership. "Anyone
who put on a White Panther button could
call themselves a White Panther and we
had to answer for their actions. We just
weren't providing the proper leadership,"
Problems for the young party soon
began to multiply. In the aftermath of
the killing.of Martin Luther King in 1968,
a strict curfew in Detroit damaged the
meager economic base of the party, which
had consisted mostly of selling beads
and other items at Detroit's dance halls.
Questioning the security of their base
in Detroit, the party moved to Ann Ar-
bor in the spring of 1963.
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