But to those who know the history of the Black Panthers and Malcolm X, her bold move was bewildering, (like me). The Black Panther Party (BPP) most notorious crime was the killing in 1974 of Black Panther bookkeeper Betty van Patter, 45. She had raised concerns that leaders were misappropriating money from the group’s flagship children’s breakfast program to buy drugs before she went missing. Weeks later her body was found, face caved in with a blunt instrument. Police had insufficient evidence to charge anyone, but Huey Newton, who had founded the Panthers along with Bobby Seale, was later said to have confessed to ordering the hit. He also allegedly admitted that Betty van Patter had been raped and tortured before she was killed by the Black Panthers.
Despite starting out to protect blacks from police brutality and to set up community programs, the Black Panther Party (BPP) were soon famed for lawlessness, ruthlessness and links to extortion, drug dealing and murder. Formed in Oakland, California, in 1966 — less than 50 miles from where the Super Bowl was played in Santa Clara — the “Black Panther Party for Self-Defence” was always clear about its aim. The Panthers backed the use of force. Their first move was to put armed citizen patrols on the streets to monitor police activity. FBI boss J Edgar Hoover dubbed them “the greatest threat to internal security of the country”. Popular Panther chants included: “The revolution has come, it’s time to pick up the gun. Off the pigs.”
During his trial for Frey’s killing, Newton became a national hero to New Leftists like Tom Hayden, who, as noted earlier, celebrated the Panthers as “America’s Vietcong,” proudly likening them to the Communist guerrillas who were killing U.S. forces in Southeast Asia. The Panthers’ contention that blacks constituted an “internal colony” in America and could only be liberated by armed revolution, became standard rhetoric for the Left.In December 1967 BPP formed a coalition with the Peace and Freedom Party, which was composed mostly of young whites who opposed the Vietnam War. Out of this coalition, the “Free Huey” movement was created by leftists sympathetic to Newton’s effort to fight back against a satanic United States.
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