Chicago New Black Panther Party focuses on local issues

Chawn Saddam Kweli speaks Jan. 5.Photo: Patrice Linarez

Chawn Saddam Kweli speaks Jan. 5.
Photo: Patrice Linarez

Chicago — The first public meeting of the newly re-established Illinois Chapter of the New Black Panther Party was held on Jan. 5 at the Cultural Center of the Marcus Garvey Institute, in the historic Roseland neighborhood on Chicago’s far South Side. The theme of the meeting was “S.O.S. — Saving Our Selves.”

The meeting hall was adorned with the red, black, and green flag representing the Black struggle for self-determination along with portraits of the flag’s inventor, Pan-Africanist and founder of the mass Back to Africa movement Marcus Garvey.

Uniformed NBPP cadre circulated copies of their Ten-Point Program and Nine Local Objectives to attendees. Featured speakers included NBPP National Assistant Amirah Sankofa and National Spokesman Chawn Saddam Kweli.

Sankofa’s talk emphasized the importance of diet in preventing heart disease, cancer and stroke — presented here as the three top health-related killers in the Black community.

Kweli’s talk focused on how Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration and the Chicago Police Department perpetuate violence in Chicago’s Black communities. He mentioned how skyrocketing rates of incarceration of Black youth, the so-called “War On Drugs,” the military-style police occupation of nationally oppressed communities and the FBI COINTELPRO war against the Black liberation movement all laid the groundwork for the current conditions facing the Black community in Chicago.

Kweli said, “The New Black Panther Party arose from the ashes of Reaganism and COINTELPRO.” He vowed to promote revolutionary unity between all the different organizations that uphold the legacy of the original Black Panther Party, including the Prisoners of Conscience Committee/Black Panther Party Cubs of Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. in Chicago, the Black Riders Liberation Party of General T.A.C.O. (Taking All Capitalists Out) in Los Angeles, and the African People’s Socialist Party of Chairman Omali Yeshitela. Workers World Party delivered a revolutionary greeting to the meeting.

‘A resource for our people’

Illinois NBPP Chairwoman Naheeba Iman Ali told WW: “Plans for the New Black Panther Party in Chicago NBPP for organizing are to deal with each issue independently. We will and have already joined and organized with community leaders, church officials, small business owners and other Pan-Afrikan organizations across the city that are already fighting police brutality, police homicide, safer communities, Black-on-Black crime, violence in our schools, kids killing kids and the Chicago Public School system.

“The overall goal for the NBPP is to become a resource center for our people. We will conduct homeownership classes for people looking to buy a home or who want to purchase income property. We want to become big sisters and big brothers to teens who are pregnant to offer guidance. We also want to reduce and prevent teen pregnancy, and to accomplish this we will have classes called ‘Black Teen Power.’”

She went on to say, “Other classes that we need to have in order to help our people include martial arts classes for adults and children for self defense; health/fitness/wellness classes for better overall health for all ages; job preparation and career centers for those who want to enter or return to the workforce; tuition and scholarships classes for students. We will also have history/culture related classes.

“As chairwoman of the Chicago New Black Panther Party, I feel that in the Afrikan community people do not know where to turn. They are not progressing because they don’t know how. We want to teach them as much as we can and let them know that we are here for them. With our guidance they can teach their children, and their children can teach their children, and we can turn this city around. It is a lot of work ahead of us and we are definitely up for the challenge.”