1969: The Year the Black Panther Party Was to Be Annihilated

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/21382-1969-the-year-the-black-panther-party-was-to-be-annihilated

By Gabriel San Roman
Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Former member Elaine Brown talks about the savage attacks on the Black Panther Party in 1969, from the January murders of Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and John Huggins through the LAPD SWAT team siege to the COINTELPRO murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.

Forty-five years ago last week, two young members of the Black Panther Party, Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and John Huggins, were slain on the campus of UCLA. Students at the time, Carter and Huggins were shot during a meeting about the formation of a black studies department. The killings at Campbell Hall appeared to be a flashpoint in a supposed power struggle between the Panthers and the Maulana “Ron” Karenga-led group, Us. The FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, however, was keen to exploit and heighten tensions between the groups before the incident. 

In September 1968, a few months before Carter’s and Huggins’ deaths, the Black Panther Party had grown nationally across the United States to the extent that Hoover, as head of the FBI, designated the group as “the most dangerous threat to the internal security of the country.” The much-cited classification was followed in 1969 with an aggressive implementation of the counter-intelligence program aimed at dismantling the party, commonly known as COINTELPRO. The year began with the killings of Carter and Huggins in Los Angeles and ended with the murder of Chairman Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in Chicago. 

Elaine Brown, a member of the Southern California chapter of the party at the time and the first woman to go on and lead it, remembers well the tumult of that year, one she describes as “absolute terror.”

Gabriel San Roman for Truthout: What did 1969 mean for the Southern California chapter of the Black Panther Party in terms of police repression?

Elaine Brown: In Southern California, we took some very heavy hits from the police. The most striking thing we can start out with is that the Los Angeles Police Department formed something called the Special Weapons And Tactics team, known as SWAT. That’s important historically because there were no such urban guerrilla, counterinsurgency, armylike entities in any police department prior to that. LAPD was unique in forming that and set a model. Their whole purpose was to attack the Black Panther Party. On their insignia they have “41st,” which references where they raided our offices, at 41st and Central.

Looking back, the siege of ’69 started the month before the new year, did it not?

In December of 1968, one of our comrades, Frank “Franco” Diggs, was killed in an alley in Long Beach. We, to this minute, can’t trace how that happened. Franco was one of the key figures in the formation of the chapter and probably one of the people closest to Bunchy Carter, who was the founder and had previously been one of the main leaders of the Slausons, a street organization, a gang, the second-largest in the nation. The year really started out with the murder of Franco Diggs. And then on January 17, at UCLA, John Huggins, deputy chairman, and Carter were assassinated by members of Ron Karenga’s Us organization, or a member at least, that we know of. Interestingly, that assassin was able to escape prosecution – and the United States – and ended up in Guyana. Later the “Stiner brothers,” who were also Us members that were indicted and convicted as conspirators in the murders, were sentenced (to) San Quentin prison. Miraculously, both of them escaped and also ended up in Guyana.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/21382-1969-the-year-the-black-panther-party-was-to-be-annihilated

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