Date: Tue, 23 Apr 1996 06:50:53 -0500
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25th Ann. of Panther 21 Acquittal: Program in NYC
From Shaba On', 22 April 1996
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 1996 marks the 25th anniversary of the acquittal of the Panther 21, who in 1971 were the leadership of the eastern region of the Black Panther Party (BPP).
The Panther 21 were arrested in a pre-dawn raid on April 2, 1969 and charged with conspiracy to blow up the New York Botanical Gardens, department stores, etc. On May 13, 1971, after the longest political trial in New York's history, all 21 New York Panthers are acquitted of all charges in just 45 minutes of jury deliberation.
The acquittal of the Panther 21 was a major political setback and embarrassment for the Manhattan District Attorney's office and the New York Police intelligence unit known as BOSSI which extensively infiltrated and disrupted the BPP's community programs.
On May 14, 1996, the Committee to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Acquittal of the New York Panther 21 will host a program at the Schornburg Center for Research in Black Culture, located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard (at 135th Street in Harlem) which will run from 5:30 PM. to 9:30 PM-
Speakers will include former Panther 21 members: Afeni Shakur (mother of Tupac Shakur) Dhoruba Bin Wahad (political prisoner for 19 years until his release in 1990); Jamal Joseph; Kwando Kinshasha; Shaba Om, Ali Bey Hassan and former BPP Communications Secretary, Rosemary Byrd,
The case of the Panther 21 serves as a classic example of police infiltration and political repression which created a new generation of political prisoners in the United States. For many membership in the Black Panther Party proved to be a serious liability that resulted in assassinations, frame-ups, long-term incarceration. Unlike Mark Rudd, Jerry Rubin and other white "radicals" who were able to re-integrate into the mainstream, the lives of former Black Panther Party leaders were, more often than not, irrevocably shattered. Their lives will bear the scars of the brutal and violent repression they endured forever. Many believe that the indictment of the Panther 21 was a racist and politically motivated frame-up by the government, through its Counter-Intelligence Program, to destroy the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation movement.
The Black Panther Party was a grassroots organization of young Black men and women dedicated to the empowerment of Black people. While the Black Panthers advocated self-defense they never supported unprovoked, random, indiscriminate violence - The right to self defense was but one of the ten points of its political platform. Contrary to the racist image painted by the mainstream media, the BPP was not a bunch of gun-toting thugs, blood-thirsty fanatics.
Leaders of the Black Panther Party were targeted by the COINTELPRO for what the FBI termed "neutralization" (a code word for assassinations, frame-ups, imprisonments and public vilification) in early 1969. Federal and local law enforcement agencies successfully assassinated many Black Panthers (Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, Zayd Shakur) or successfully imprison them for life (Geronimo ji jaga pratt. Mumia Abu-Jamal, Marshall Eddie Conway, etc.) by utilizing extra-legal means (e.g., suborning of perjury, harassing and intimidating witnesses, withholding of exculpatory evidence, etc.)
In the late 1960s, as the US. "civil rights" movement grew and became more militant in its opposition to racist and and-poor domestic and foreign policies, the FBI intensified its domestic surveillance and counter-insurgency programs aimed at the Black community. The BPP became the primary target of the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) The 1974 findings of the Church Committee (a Senate Committee on Government Operations) revealed that almost 90% of the FBI's counterintelligence activities that were aimed at the Black community targeted the BPP. The US government's Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) effectively destroyed radical Black political dissent in the US by murdering, framing, incarcerating its leaders or forcing them into exile.
The United States denies the existence of political prisoners within its borders - Instead, the US law enforcement agencies classifies these former political activists that it targeted as mere criminals. Within the US, the criminal justice system (law enforcement, the courts, jails and prisons) is used to repress political activists- Illegal methods were used to frame political prisoners- A review of these cases reveal gross patterns of prosecutorial misconduct which includes: the fabrication or concealment of evidence by the government during trial. Statistics prove that political prisoners consistently receive longer prison terms than do right-wing fanatics or non-political offenders. They are also forced to endure the harshest conditions of confinement The majority of political prisoners in the US today are Black and former members of the Black Panther Party.
COME CELEBRATE THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ACQUITAL OF THE NY PANTHER 21.
We welcome you support and as that you attend a Celebration of the 25th. Anniversary of the Panther 21 Acquittal on Tuesday May 14, 1996 at The Schomburg Ccuter for Research in Black Culture 515 Malcolm X Blvd- (at 135th Street) New York, NY 10037
Reception at 5:30pm - 6:45pm
RSVP by May 3, 1996
Tickets: $500 Patron, $250 Sponsor, $100 Suporter, $50 Friend, $35 Associate, $20 General Admission
All proceeds go to benefit Black Political Prisoners in the US.