The trial of the remaining 12 members of the Detroit 15, arrested after a police attack on the NCCF office (National Committee to Combat Fascism, an arm of the Black Panther Party) in Detroit, has begun in front of Recorder's Court Judge John Murphy. They're charged not only with the murder of a single policeman (found dead two blocks from their office) but also with "conspiracy to murder Detroit policemen." Jury selection has been completed, and the actual proceedings start on Monday, May 24.
The prosecution sees this trial as an important part in their overall plan to rid the city of the NCCF (which has now been turned into a regular BPP Chapter). They expect to call over 100 witnesses, mostly police officers.
Except for Jerome Lee, that is, one of the original defendants that agreed to testify for the prosecution. The fact that the police went to extreme lengths to find an informer among the defendants indicates that they have no other witnesses with which to directly tie the murder to the 12 accused.
They've yet to name a trigger person, but with the Conspiracy charge this isn't necessary. The defense fears that the jury will be convinced to trade off a not guilty verdict on the murder charge for a conviction on the vague conspiracy charge, as a sort of compromise. So no one individual need be named„
The prosecution plans to rely on the fact that there were weapons found in the house, along with spent bullet shells. The attorneys for the NCCF do not deny that shots were fired late that night in self-defense, after the police launched that attack on the house, using tanks, armored cars, and massive numbers of cops.
Last October it was mass community support that prevented the police from massacring the besieged NCCF members, as hundreds of neighborhood residents watched the police action and at one point burned seven squad cars.
Community support is still around, as over 600 people hear parents and other supporters of the Detroit 15 speak at rallies this weekend in Inkster and Detroit.
The committee to Defend the Detroit 15 needs money. To contribute defense funds or for more information contact them at PO Box 7728, Detroit, 48207.