Seize the Time

Huey Newton and Bobby Seale of the Black Panther Party
Huey Newton and Zhou-en Lai (Chou En Lai)

First Issue of Getting Together - February 1970

Seize the Time

On December 4th, 30 Chicago cops laid a night-time ambush, and murdered two Panther leaders. One of the murdered Panthers was Fred Hampton, the 28-year old chariman of the Illinois Black Panther Party. A few days later, 300 cops launched a massive attack on the Los Angeles office of the Panthers, using such weapons as dynamite, machine guns, and tear gas grenades. The 11 Panthers inside the office heroically kept up their resistance for five long hours!

These two are the latest in the series of vicious police raids against this black people's organization. In the last year and a half, more than 30 Panther leaders and members have been murdered, and hundreds have been jailed, mostly on trumped-up (fake) charges. Why is it that the cops and rich white politicians are so afraid of the Panthers that they are trying to eliminate them by murders, ambushes, and a whole lot of jailings?

The Black Panther Party was born in 1966, after the black people struggled for their freedom and equality for ten long years peacefully. During that time, they followed the leadership of "non-violent" persons such as Dr. Martin Luther King who believed in- the Christian- philosophy of turning the other cheek when some prejudiced (racist) whites beat you up. The black people tried to attain freedom and equal rights by praying, sit-ins, peaceful marches, and voting campaigns. They were ignored, insulted, beaten, jailed, burned, attacked with water hoses and electric cattle prods and police dogs, and often killed. (Many leaders were killed including Malcom X, Medgar Evers, and Dr. King himself, as you will remember.) There were little reforms here and there (like the low-paying summer jobs for the kids), but poverty, discrimination, racial insults, and police brutality still continued. So the Panthers who followed the ideas of Malcolm X said to the black people: "This is all wrong. When the white racists or the cops attack us, we should defend ourselves, by whatever means necessary. We should be proud as black people, be proud of our blackness and of our struggle as slaves. What a proud people should do when attacked without a good reason, is to fight back and teach the aggressor a lesson so that he won't bother you."

So they started a program which encouraged the black people to pick up the gun, in order to defend themselves and their homes. And under our constitution, every person has the right to own a gun and to defend himself. They also began several programs to serve the needs of poor black people whose welfare was completely neglected by the government which works, as we know, mostly for the rich. (And very few black, or yellow, people are rich.) As the Panther ideals of black pride, black self- reliance, black power, and black army for self-defense spread to more and more black people and became very popular, the rich whites, their flunky politicians, and their cops got uptight, fearing that the black people would begin to show some of their power with the leadership of the Panthers. So at first they spread false rumors and evil gossip, trying to make people think that the Panthers were a bunch of bad trouble-makers. This trick didn't work, because the blacks saw that the Panther programs like FREE CLOTHING, FREE HEALTH PROGRAM, FREE BREAKFAST FOR CHILDREN, LIBERATION SCHOOLS, and PEOPLES POLICE PATROL (to make sure that police brutality wouldn't happen) not only did not harm the people, but helped to meet various needs of their daily life. Since this dirty campaign of big lie failed to destroy the Panthers, cops and the rich white politicians are now trying to destroy them by sneaky ambushes, murders, jailings, etc, etc.

The Panthers are not the only non-white organization under vicious attack by the white cops. The Spanish people's organization called the Young Lords is also facing the same brutality. Two weeks ago, 13 Young Lords were beaten up uptown while they were trying to speak to the Spanish people in a church. Also on the West coast, 20 Chinese and Japanese students of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) were arrested and beaten while demanding a program in which they could learn the history and the culture of their own people.

The rich whites who run this country think that by putting down these non-white peoples organizations, we are going to get even more scared and let them run our lives. They are wrong: for every Panther murdered by the police, there will be five more new, young Panthers who are awakened and made angry by this brutal act and fight back. The same with the Young Lords. And the same is true of us Asian-Americans (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, etc.). As long as there is poverty in Chinatowns across the country, as long as there is unfair treatment and discrimination, as long as there are those racial insults, as long as the white soldiers are sent to murder thousands of innocent Asian women, old people, children, and babies (let's remember the Songmy massacre as long as we live), as long as white people think of us as "gooks," "dinks," "slope-eyed," and "chinks," as long as any of these things continue to exist there will be Yellow People in this country who will fight for decent lives, no matter what the consequences or the threats may be.