Rally supports arrested Panthers
Published Feb 1, 2007 9:54 PM
Five of the indicted Panthers are on cover of
new DVD, “Legacy of
Torture: The War
Against the Black Liberation Movement.”
From left, Hank
Jones, John Bowman
(deceased), Ray Boudreaux, Harold Taylor
and Richard Brown.
Photo: Scott Braley 2006
On the same day that U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced that
people do not have a constitutional right to challenge their imprisonment,
eight former Black Panther Party leaders and community activists were indicted
for something that happened over 35 years ago—the killing of a San
But if a Jan. 28 support rally is any indication, the Bay Area progressive
community will not tolerate this outrageous attack on the Black liberation
On Jan. 23, after a two-year witch hunt by local, state and federal police, six
former Bay Area Black Panther Party organizers were arrested: Richard Brown,
Richard O’Neal, Francisco Torres, Ray Boudreaux, Hank Jones and Harold
Two well-known political prisoners, Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqin (Anthony
Bottom), part of the New York Three who were falsely accused and convicted of
killing two New York City policemen, have also been accused and indicted. John
Bowman, the ninth target of the two-year-long grand jury witch hunt, died in
Why did the government indict this group of Black freedom fighters now? Why has
the government relentlessly pursued these activists more than 35 years after
the alleged “crime” was committed?
On Jan. 28 a local activist media collective, Freedom Archives, premiered their
latest exposé of racism and injustice in this country, “Legacy of
Torture: The War Against the Black Liberation Movement.” The new DVD
documents the torture of several of the arrested activists—Bowman, Jones,
and Taylor—at the hands of the New Orleans Police Department in 1973.
Several of the men were incarcerated for refusing to testify before a grand
jury. The video also captures the level of police brutality, assassinations and
abuse suffered by the Black community during the 1960s and 1970s.
According to the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), a group
devoted to exposing human rights abuses against progressive organizations and
individuals, 13 Black activists were arrested in New Orleans in 1973 and
tortured for several days in a manner similar to today’s torture at
Guantánamo Bay and Iraq’s Abu Ghraib.
In “Legacy of Torture,” Bowman, Jones and Taylor graphically
describe being stripped naked and beaten by slapjacks and blunt objects; probed
by cattle prods in their genital areas; and nearly suffocated by plastic bags
being placed over their heads and wet wool blankets wrapped tightly around
The government failed in the early 1970s to bring any of these men to trial for
the killing of San Francisco policeman John Young. In fact, California courts
deemed all the coerced false confessions from New Orleans inadmissible due to
the physical abuse and torture suffered by the men.
Brown, who has spent the last 30 years working with young people in this
city’s African-American community, denounced the government’s
violence against the Black liberation movement in an interview with the SF Bay
View newspaper. “I was named as a participant in 1971 in the murder case.
All Panthers were targeted. If we were doing something constructive, we were
singled out. They killed Bunchy Carter, arrested and imprisoned Geronimo
[Pratt]. It was just our turn. We were next on the list,” Brown
Soffiyah Elijah, a New York-based attorney who has defended many Black freedom
fighters, spoke briefly at today’s program, which drew so many people to
the Roxie Theater that the film had to be shown twice. “In the wake of
9/11 and the Patriot Act, the government is now resurrecting its Cointelpro
actions. Homeland Security is merely an extension of that effort,” Elijah
Cointelpro was the domestic government program used to undermine, disrupt and
assassinate the leadership of domestic liberation movements, revolutionary
organizations and progressive groups in this country that were protesting
government policies in the 1960s and 1970s.
John Bowman says in “Legacy of Torture,” now dedicated to his
memory: “I am sick of these people trying to destroy our
community.” The support at today’s program echoed this sentiment as
hundreds of people signed up to become involved in the defense effort.
A large crowd attended John Bowman’s memorial at the African American Art
and Culture Complex following the film showing. A bail hearing for the
imprisoned Black activists is scheduled.
For more information about how to support these activists or purchase a copy of
the new video, write to [email protected] or visit
www.freedomarchives.org. “Legacy of Torture” is available at
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