Saturday, April 29, 2006
AN INTERVIEW WITH BLACK PANTHER RICHARD BROWN
Often times, out of the blue, I think that for the luck of the draw (or jury pool) I could be sitting in prison today enduring, say, my 35th year behind bars. I'm not and I'm thankful. However, some of those who fought the same battles way back when are locked up right now. Those of us who were active then and those of you (and us) who are active today must never forget about these folks. We must never forget the line which runs directly from COINTELPRO to the Patriot Act. Same struggle, same fight!
Oh, and by the way, Leonard Peltier just lost another appeal.
Anyway, read the inteview below.
The following interview comes from the San Francisco Bay View.
Still being hunted: an interview with Black Panther Richard Brown
by POCC Minister of Information JR and West Coast Chairwoman Ra’shida
On our radio show, POCC Radio: The Block Report, our guest was Richard Brown, a Bay Area resident and one of five Black Panthers who were incarcerated in September 2005 during a secret Homeland Security initiated grand jury investigation of a 34-year-old police murder.
This has been a trend around the country in regards to freedom fighters. Kamau Sadiki, the father of political exile and freedom fighter Assata Shakur’s daughter was locked up on some trumped up charges a few years back in Atlanta and given a life sentence. Imam Jamil Al-Amin was convicted in ‘01 for a police murder that he didn’t commit.
As people who benefit in society from these souljahs’ sacrifices, we owe it to them to aid them in any and all ways, as well as to teach our young people about the war this government is waging on us and the history of the warriors who fought back. As we saw in Haiti during their 200th anniversary of independence, the white power structure doesn’t want us to know anything abut our people’s history of resistance.
The year 2006 marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party. We have to realize that this is a protracted war and that this is the same government that enslaved us and today either wants to exploit us or destroy us. Check out the words of Black Panther Richard Brown.
JR: You were recently locked up from September to October 2005. Can you tell us about this grand jury that had you and your four co-defendants locked up?
RB: The secret grand jury investigation was investigating an incident – a crime that was committed in 1971. A couple of police stations were attacked. I understand that a police officer lost his life and a couple of people was shot. And this incident, our grand jury questioned us in 2005 … Along the way, though, in 1973, in New Orleans, three of the five people – it was Harold Taylor, John Bowman and Ruben Scott – were arrested. These people were tortured in New Orleans for five days.
They were brutally treated and mistreated, and all kind of criminal acts were committed against them. And they were forced actually to confess to crimes that they knew nothing about and implicate people like myself, Hank Jones and Ray Boudreaux. And all of this extends from way back then. The grand jury investigation was asking us questions about the so-called incident that happened in 1971.
R: Can you talk about the torture you all endured while in the concentration camps in 1971?
RB: During the five-day period in New Orleans, they systematically went about torturing people. They would use three brothers. … They utilized beatings of course. They would have them blindfolded and handcuffed, shove them into walls and local furniture. They used cattle prods, they used electrical instruments on their genitals, they scalded them with hot water – they did the whole gambit.
At the same time you have to remember that they had one man’s wife and his children, and another man’s children, and they were threatening to do the same to their families if they did not confess. This is the type of torture that they had to endure for five days.
JR: I understand that the same officers that interrogated and terrorized you over 34 years ago are the same ones that came to pick you and your co-defendants up, and are the ones that are working on your case currently.
RB: That’s correct. Frank McCoy and Ed Erdelatz: These were two San Francisco police officers who left San Francisco and went to New Orleans and conducted and participated in the torturous treatment of my friends. They would come into the room, ask questions. If they weren’t answered in the manner that they wanted them answered, or they couldn’t get the information, they would leave out the room.
New Orleans police would come in and do their brutal tactics, and when they left, the officers would come back in. And this was repeated over and over for days, until the men cooperated.
These same men, Frank and Ed, who had retired, they came out of retirement, joined Homeland Security and were the same officers that knocked on our doors and served a subpoena for the secret grand jury investigation. The first words out their mouths were, “Do you remember me?” So, yeah, it’s the same people all over again.
R: How is Cointelpro involved and today’s Patriot Act affecting those cases and the struggle today?
RB: Cointelpro is the main runner of the Homeland Security, and I find it ironic that this government, once they target you, they will bring about an agency like a Counter Intelligence Program, which is Cointelpro. They will release these people on you; they will violate your rights, kill you. Cointelpro was found guilty of over 300 criminal activities.
They’ve also by Senate investigation been determined to be unconstitutional after they destroyed Black Panther Party … after they had committed assassinations and jailed people with trumped up charges. They did all this for over three years, and then they were unconstitutional. So now we have the same people who were in Cointelpro coming out of retirement, helping and assisting Homeland Security to do the same thing to us all over again.
JR: Would Black Panther political prisoners Mumia Abu Jamal, Imam Jamil Al-Amin, Marshall Eddie Conway, the New York 3, Seth Hayes, Abdul Majid, the list goes on and on, do you think that Cointelpro should be investigated?
RB: It was investigated. It was condemned. They were accused of like I said committing over 300 criminal acts themselves. It was documented by Congress, and they were a rude constitutional agency and disbanded.
JR: If they closed the book on it, why weren’t those political prisoners released? All of those political prisoners I named including Leonard Peltier and a number of other ones are still on what we call death row because they are trying to make them die in prison. Do you think that it should be reinvestigated? Do you think that these cases should be opened, in terms of looking at the innocence that is there, in all of those cases that I just named?
RB: That’s one of the reasons that the five of us – and when I say five, I mean myself, John Bowman, Ray Boudreaux, Harold Taylor and Hank Jones – it’s one of the things we wanted to do; we’ve been enduring this for over 30 years. They have attacked us several times; 2005 was just the latest. We continue to endure these attacks and allow them to keep it secret. Well, we can’t afford to do that anymore. We wanna try to bring it to the attention of the Amerikkkan people.
And we wanna try to do something and show them that the Homeland Security is just an extension of Cointelpro and that the Patriot Act is just a legal way of going about doing what was illegal at that particular time. Perhaps, the best thing in the world that we would be able to do would be to focus enough attention and to get an investigation so that all blows up and we could revisit people’s case and it be shown that they were framed.
JR: With you being a member of the Black Panther Party specifically, what do you think particularly about the case of political exile Assata Shakur, who’s also a member of the BPP, who the government on May 2 of ‘05 put a $1 million dollar bounty on her head?
RB: Her and all the other political prisoners ... you know once Cointelpro, once they target you, once they put you on the list, then they can label you. They labeled us as terrorists. They labeled us as criminals. They labeled us as hoodlums. (They labeled us as) any negative thing they could label us as in order for them to get away with the illegal treatment that they forced upon us at that particular time. So that the Amerikkkan public would be able to accept it, everything was done in the name of the Amerikkkan people for national security.
You have to remember that with Nixon’s approval, J. Edgar Hoover labeled the Black Panther Party the biggest threat to national security in Amerikkka, period. At that time, that’s when they unleashed the dogs on us. And all the illegal facts that we’ve been talking about, it’s been happening to every Black Panther, male and female. And their job was to undermine and destroy the Panther Party by any means necessary; so (that means) framing people, driving people out of the country.
You know when you attack someone, and they know for a fact that they’re not going to have a fair trial, you know, you leave them no choice; they have to leave. In order to keep from being locked up for the rest of their lives for crimes that they did not commit, people leave. And, you know, that’s what’s happening with a lot of prisoners who are in exile, or people who are in exile.
R: Do you have any further comments?
RB: What I would like to get out is to the Amerikkkan people. You have to open your eyes and understand what’s going on in Amerikkka today. I believe that a majority of Amerikkkans are decent people who believe in justice and equality. We’re divided by all kinds of barriers. It’s the “divide and conquer” game.
I want the people to understand what Bush is doing when he asks for unlimited power, when he asks for the Patriot Act to be reinstalled, when he wants the ability to do anything and everything whenever he gets ready, however he gets ready, and doesn’t have to be held accountable to Congress or the Amerikkkan people. We no longer have democracy or a president; we have a dictator. And that’s what I want to get out.
Email JR at firstname.lastname@example.org.