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Gehena Girish

Mrs. Hillesland

AP Integrated English 11

19 September 2016

With Liberty and Justice for All

In the 1960s, Americas world was turned upside down. The fight for rights had begun

among various groups of activists, rallying together for peace, equality, and justice. From the

seeds of injustice and inequality grew one of the most powerful and influential groups of

American history: the Black Panther Party. Started by two college students, the Black Panther

Party stood for racial equality and equal opportunities for black people across America.

However, the Party took their quest for equality to new heightscombating police brutality.

Racist policemen were targeting black peoples, and Party members felt the need to discourage

this behavior. The Black Panther Party felt that taking a stand against police brutality was the

only way to bring light to the oppression against black people in their communitybecause of

their actions, they have become one of the twentieth centurys strongest proponents of American


The Black Panther Party started their fight against police brutality after its founding in

1966. In the late 1960s, the term Black Power was just coming into play, as many black

people began to reject the non-violent methods of protest and take on more violent ways of

standing up for their rights. Before the Party came along, the movement for racial equality had

already taken place in black communities around California. However, once black people in

California started punching up against the racial discrimination, police brutality began punching

back down. Police continued to discriminate against black people within the community for
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small and petty reasons, and these incidents got heated very quickly. These incidents did not

frame all police as racist, but they did help to give the Black Panther Party something to stand

against. One of the documented and remembered cases of police brutality against an African

American is the death of Ronald Stokes, a member of a civil rights group similar to the Black

Panther Party. Stokes was killed by Los Angeles police, under the pretense of justified homicide

because of self defense. One bystander of the event described Stokes death as one of the most

ferocious, inhuman atrocities ever inflicted in a so-called democratic and civilized society

(Biography). Events like this took place all over the United States, and many of the Black

Panther Party members were affected by the police brutality, further encouraging the Party to

take a stand against it.

The Black Panther Partys response to police brutality can be summed up in one phrase:

fight fire with fire. Party members, originating in Oakland, took it upon themselves to start a

community watch. While policemen were on their shifts and patrolling black communities, on

the hunt for trouble, the Black Panthers were on the hunt for unconstitutional policemen. The

Panthers main goal in their shadowing of police was to investigate and intervene any

interactions between black people and police. Any time police pulled over a car with a black

person inside, or stopped a black person on the street, a Panther would immediately get involved.

Through this, the Panthers emphasized their use of the Second Amendment, as most Panthers

had a gun on their person while patrolling, in order to intimidate both police officers and to act as

a symbol of their power. Panthers used to yell out chants to empower the community they were

defending: Come on out, black people. Come on out and get to know about these racist dog

swine who been controlling our community and occupying our community like a foreign troop.

Come on out and were going to show you about swine pigs (Panther Patrol). The Party also
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exercised their Constitutional rights, through their commitment to freedom of speech and

assembly. Through the Partys actions against police brutality, they show their true colors in their

American ideals. The Party spoke out against social injustice, and did something about itone

of the ideals America was founded upon and continues to revere. The Black Panther Party puts

into effect the same ideals our founding fathers wrote in their Declaration of Independence:

whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the

People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such

principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect

their Safety and Happiness. The Party fought to change the governments approach to

discrimination and ensure equality, and because of this, the Party has become one of the

strongest proponents of American values.

The Partys approach to fighting against police brutality was the only way for them to

take a stand. During the time period, America was tense on the heels of cultural revolution. The

Black Panther Party could have approached the oppression through political involvement or

peaceful protest. However, the Party only took hints from the events that occurred before their

own actionsthe assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 and the assassination of Martin

Luther King Jr., only five years later. These events influenced the Party approach by encouraging

the idea that violence is the only way to take a stand. If the Party had silently protested against

the oppression through small-scale campaigns, they would have never made a national stand.

With their action against police brutality, in such an extreme manner, they made national

headlines and their voices were heard.

Despite the Partys bravery, their actions have been criticized by many. The Party is often

viewed not as a champion of equality, but as a violent group of hoodlums that caused trouble in
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the neighborhoods. Their views on police brutality are interpreted as extreme, their actions

against racial discrimination interpreted as harsh, and their pioneering of American ideals

interpreted as unnecessary. J. Edgar Hoover, the then-director of the FBI, described the Partys

ideals and actions as having perpetrated numerous assaults on police officers and have engaged

in violent confrontations with police throughout the country. Leaders and representatives of the

Black Panther Party travel extensively all over the, United States preaching their gospel of hate

and violence not only to ghetto residents, but to students in colleges, universities and high

schools is well. Even other black community members disliked the Black Panther views and

condemned their actions.

However, despite arguments of the Partys extreme views and harsh actions, the Panthers

are still championing the American values we hold so close to our heart. The Panthers represent

the bravest among a population, willing to stand up for their rights when nobody else will listen

to them. As Huey P. Newton mentioned in his description of the Party origins, they chose the

name Panther because a Panther will only attack if it has been provoked. The Black Panther

Party stood up for the rights of thousands of oppressed black people, and by putting an end to

police brutality where they could, they changed the lives of many.

The Black Panther Party has left its mark on the world, since its end in 1981. As the years

pass, the Party becomes more and more connected to the society in which we live in. The

Panthers still represent the fundamental American values that our country is built upon,

especially justice, freedom, and equality. Despite views against them, the Panthers have made

their goals, views, and ideals a part of the 1960s civil rights movement. Without the work of the

Black Panther Party, the lives of many black people living in America today would never be the

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Works Cited

23, February. "Ex-Black Panthers Criticize Negative Depictions of Party : History: Bobby Seale,

Eldridge Cleaver Tell Cal State Fullerton Audience about Militancy, Civil Rights Work." Los

Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 1995. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

"Biographies and Memoirs." Erenow. Erenow, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

By the End of the Decade. "Black Panther Party Founded." Welcome To "Voices That Guide Us"
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Personal Narratives. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

Collective, The Talking Drum. "Www.AssataShakur.Com." The FBI's Covert Program To

Destroy the Black Panther Party, Page 1, Hands Off Assata Campaign. Web. 19 Sept.


Cops, By. "Police History: The Black Panthers and the Rise of Anti-cop Violence." PoliceOne.

Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

"In Search of African America: One Collector's Experience. An Exhibit at the Herbert Hoover

Presidential Museum." National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives

and Records Administration. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

"Panther Patrols: Publicity and Performance "It's About Gettin' the Man's Attention"" Panther

Patrols: Publicity and Performance. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.

Steven. "The Black Panther Party for Self Defense." The Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

N.p., 17 Sept. 2006. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

Turner, Hugo. "The Black Panther Party. The Battle against Poverty, Racism, Imperialism and

Police Brutality." Global Research. Global Research, 18 Sept. 2016. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.