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Bobby Seale Part Ii

Bobby Seale Part Ii image Bobby Seale Part Ii image
Parent Issue
Day
14
Month
December
Year
1973
OCR Text

This is the second part of a speech given recently in Detroit by Bobby Seale, Chairman of the Black Panther Party. Bobby spoke at Wayne State University as one stop on a speaking tour to promote electoral politics and community alternative programs as necessary steps towards revolutionary social change. Last April, Bobby received 45,000 votes for Mayor ofOakland. His campaign, his snit and tie, and speaking from church pulpits lead to charges that Bobby and the Black Panther Party liad become reformist, had sold out what these people perceived as the revolution. Upon entering the Wayne State Auditorium there were people passing out lea flets making these kinds of charges. Bobby's speech picks up on that point. I think I better start clearing up a few things, because there seems to be a few white intellectuals ling themselves the left here who still haven't really understood what the objectives and goals of the Black Panther Party really are. When Huey Newton and I started the Black Panther Party the Communist Party couldn't get along with us. The Progressive Labor Party couldn't get along with us. The Socialist Workers Party couldn't get along with us. But I didn't see one concrete program in the black, Chicano or the WHITE community for that matter, beins done by any of these three parties, that attempted to unify the people in such a way that they could emorace the objective of a struggle in contradiction with the power structure. Back in the late 1960's people started hearing about basic community survival programs. And then many groups and organizations, without making an investigation, wlüch is a really low level to stoop at, began to cali these survival programs "reformist" on the part of the BPP. And then they said that about Elaine Brown and I running for elected office in Oakland. We implemented our first survival program, the breakfast for children program, in January 1969. When we first started pretty soon we were feeding two and a half thousand children in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay area. Because we didn't like what we experienced, and what some of the kids are experiencing now, going to school hungry. While some teacher's up there talking about "these black children can't learn," and half of them are racist up there talking about "one apple and one apple equals two apples." If the child is hungry he ain't going to concéntrate on the one and two, but on whether or not he can get that apple into hls stomach. We implemented that breakfast for children program because it was a problem in the community. But also because we had to be creative and demónstrate in new ways how to go about organizing the people. While at the same time criticiing the power structure effectively. EFFECTIVELY IN TERMS OF THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF OUR PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY. It's one thing to criticize the power structure in terms of them being right or wrong, a 1984 fascist state, vicious pólice, etc., etc. And some people would say "yea, right on." But it's another thing to criticize it with a concrete program that masses of people, especially mothers and fathers who have children WHO ARE ALSO VOTERS, who have no organization, can relate to and benefit from. A program that tells them "Now that's what should have been done in the first place, and that's what's not being done." Another program we started began when we called the pólice for what they were. We defined them for what they were in this country. They needed defining. We started patrolling the pólice right after the party was founded in 1966. At the time Huey P. Newton and I were working for a poverty program. In fact 1 already had worked at two or three, and got fired from both because I was teaching black history to black youth. At the same time we were working these programs there were numerous cases of pólice brutality. Numerous cases! And we knew that any one of these cases of pólice brutality could become that one qualitative leap point where spontaneous black rebellion could occur. Me and Huey, being mm directly involved in the community and on the block with the brothers and sisters most of the time, began to look around and we saw something. Starting in August of 1965 with the Watts riot, we looked and saw something very clear. One hundred people killed. 500 wounded. 6,000 arrested. Where was all this energy at? It was in jail. It was corralled. There was no real organization that would begin to try and organize the people into positive concrete action and programs that eould raise their consciousness and allow the people to develop EFFECTIVE organiation, all the way up to tlie level of defending the community. So we drew up the first 10 poirrt BPP platform and program on Oct. 15, 1966 inside this po ver t y program office. A program that talked about full employment, decent education, controlling our own destiny n our own black communities, an end to the draft of black men into military service, an end to pólice brutality and murder of black people. It talked about black brothers and sisters being railroaded to jailsand prisons by all white juries not representative of their peers. about land. bread, housing. education, clothing, justice, peace, and community control of modern technology. We drew up that first program in 1966, and that's when the Party was founded. Huey P. Newton and 1 sat there in that office and Huey said, "Well, you and I are the only two members of this BPP so we're gonna have to have some offices to start with. What do you want to be? We need a Minister of Defense and a Chairman." I said. "I don't know. it don't make no difference, l'll take Chairman." And Huey said he'dtake Minister of Defense. Because organization is not necessarily manifested in titles, although in those days we thought it was necessary to attract especially young brothers and sisters, beca use they related to a structural concept. And we moved out into the community, for a solid month we took that 10 pt. platform and program and we talked to almost 2,000 people about it as we handed it out to them. We talked to students, brothers on parole, in the prison system, mothers, housewives, sisters, all kinds of people right down the line. And then a little girl got brutalized. By a six foot cop, weighing 210 lbs, who took a billy club and crushed her skull open. She was in the hospital for two months. We knew it was high time to start moving. Here was this 210 lb. cop, with his 357 Magnum, his radio, handcuffs, bullets and the whole Batman utility belt, brutalizing a 1 1 4 lb. little girl with a billy club, because he said she kicked him. So we started patrolling the pólice. We went and got some pump shotguns, and if the cops were using double-o buckshot then we'd have it too. You should have seen what happened when we went to the store to get the shotgun. The lady at the store says, well, you know the FBI wants to know people's na mes who are buying these guns. And Huey says, "My name is Huey P. Newton, here's my money, give me my gun! You ain't supposed to ask me nothing, because the law states that you sell this gun to me just likeyou sell popcorn across the counter. I don't care about no FBI, give me my gun!" So we went out into the community, and we started patrolling the pólice. We got some tape recorders, too. Huey had been in law school at this tipie about a year and a halt', so lie brought his law book. And we remembered that there had been previously a patrol group in Los Angeles who luid the lawbooks and tape recorders, but no guns. They would walk up to the pólice in the process of arresting a brother and stand there as the pólice would be unjustly shoving and brutalizing him. They'd walk up and say, "Officer, you are brutalizing this man unjustly, you are violating his constitutional rights." And the pólice would turn around and take the tape recorder and smash it, take the law books. tear it up. beat their head and arrest them too. So we said this needs equalizing. And we knew the law, Huey knew it down to the point, especially that scene with interfering with an officer carrying out his duty. In the state of California the law reads that every citizen has the right to observe an officer performing his duty, as long as he stood a reasonable distance away. And the previous court rulings had set the precedent that a reasonable distance was eight to ten feet away. So we walked up on these pólice and stood there. and the pólice would look around and say, "What are you doing with that gun?" And we'd say, "What are you doing with YOUR gun?" "Well, I got my gun to protect myself in the line of duty." And we'd say, "Well, I got my gun to defend myself, and to come out here and patrol you pólice to make sure there's no brutality, like that one two hundred and ten pound cop who brutalized a fourteen year old sister. And that brother you're trying to arrest there, you go ahead because we're going to bail him out later on. And we don't want to hear anything about interfering with an officer carrying out his duty, because you asked the question first! I didn't say a word to you, and I got my shotgun and I got my law down, so take care of your duty. Just don't brutalize anybody." So the pólice went out and did his duty, and it shook him up. It got so bad that around the north and west Oakland community. when we first started patrolling, about every tenth time the pólice would be making an arrest in the black community, people would cali us up or come to teil us and we'd be there on the spot. And in those days when we patrolled the pólice, we never had one shootout. The organization grew, nine, ten, twenty, and started to become different groups - the east Oakland group, and the west and north Oakland groups. You know, from January first all the way up to about April, pólice brutality in Oakland, California went down to a nil point. We had our tape recorders, we had our law books, we could cite the law. Huey knew it backwards, forwards and sideways. Previous to the BPP being started Huey had defended himself three times in court and won lus cases. You can read about that in his new book, "Revolutionary Suicide," hisautobiography. But that was one method in those days, primarily, to get black brothers and sisters attracted to the organization and that ten point program. We started teaching young people who were semi-literate about Franz Fanon, about the autobiography of Malcolm X. The organization was growing. And then we went to Richmond to investígate the murder of a young black brother by some sheriffs. We went to the sheriffs department with our guns and everything and they wouldn't let us in. From there we went to Sacramento to the State Capitol, where the newspapers said that hoodlums had invaded the capitol. And black people said, what kind of hoodlums is these? Some new kind of hoodlums here. And we did this because we knew it was necessary to go through this process to attract people. And also to set a new way and a new method by which we could move forward. And even then it was not absurd for us to think in terms of becoming political candidates. Because in fact IT WAS OUR ORIGINAL VISION TO RUN POLITICAL CANDIDATES in those days, before we even patrolled the pólice. Vd like to go on by talking about what a community is, and what a system is. You got people running around saying "I'm dropping out of the system" and other people who don't even know what a community is. A community by sociológica 1 definition is a comprehensive collection of institutions. The only problem is, do these institutions serve our basic desires and needs? Are these institutions a real commisar of the people? No, they are not! A phony socalled democracy controls these institutions for the private interests of corporate capitalists. War mongers! That is what they use tlüs so-called system of democracy for, to get themselves rich! Now what we have to do, and this is what I'm saying on this speaking tour I'm on now, is to begin to take this very same system and turn it around with mass block voting, and begin to elect some candidates who have internalized, heart, mind and soul, the philosophy of people's struggle. Did you know that seventy odd black candidates ran for office last year, and nearly fifty of t hem have won? And, that's just a beginning trend. We've got to keep that up, until we get control of the wardsand the county seat. We want to effect the controlled institutions that affect our lives. But we have to understand what an institution is. The pólice department is an institution. So is the fire department. Historically people institutionalize new functions as a means to have a better way of life, to live better, communally, cooperatively or what. But along came some fooi who ripped off the communal storehouse. Jumped out in front of people with some henchmen carrying spears, took away all the people's beads and created a bank. And said, "You can't get none of this rice you picked last winter until you get some more of those beads." So he created this bank and ripped off the store. And those stores turned into supermarkets where you pay high prices. And don't you go around saying that you have a right to that food because you're hungry, because you're going to get arrested if you try to get it without giving over some beads, some monetary value. The power structure's ripped us off, and black people terribly. It blows my mind! When I studied black history with Huey I found a very significant thing. After the Civil War, they promised black people forty acres and two mules. If we really got those forty acres and two mules in those days, we'd have been dealing in what is called democratie capitalism, everybody had a chance to make it. And the government had enough land, because even in 1 869 they bought Alaska. But they ripped us off. Some new continued on page 18