The Black Panther Party: Part Four..…cocaine as a weapon to destroy Panthers

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BY 1976, the Black Panther Party had been destroyed by way of shootouts with police, internal conflicts, conflicts with other groups, assassination of leaders, prison sentences and so on.
Although the party remained somewhat functional, it was no longer the force that had caused FBI director Edgar Hoover to call it ‘the most dangerous internal security issue in the US’. Thus the Corporal Intelligence Programme (COINTEL) programme of the FBI had been successful.
The aftermath was the systematic crackdown on people with Black Panther views and ideology.
Many Panthers were killed and fled the country in this period and the authorities began to focus their attention on the armed black youths who had learnt to carry weapons from the Panthers.
The US government, through the mafia, introduced and accelerated the trade of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin in black communities in this same period.
Before long, the blacks had reason to kill each other over drug deals; a continued epidemic which is rife in the black communities of the US to this day.
Among the victims of hard drug use was Huey Newton who became an addict after being coerced to resort to cocaine and heroin to counter stress.
This greatly affected his state of mind and eventually led him to get shot dead during a drug dispute in 1989.
Right up to his death, Newton was on a campaign to free Geronimo Pratt, who had been convicted on false charges of murder.
Another victim of hard drug use was Eldridge Cleaver who became heavily addicted to cocaine.
Before his death, Cleaver once spoke of the Black Panthers saying: “The US government chopped (killed) off the head (leaders) of the black liberation movement and left the body (members) there armed.
“That’s why all these young bloods are out there now, having the rhetoric, but without political direction, and they’ve got guns.”
On this note, we shall look at the Black Child’s Pledge which was written by Black Panther Shirley Williams and published in October 1968 for all black youths to follow.
“I pledge allegiance to my black people; I pledge to develop my mind and body to the greatest extent possible.
“I will learn all that I can in order to give my best for my people in their struggle for liberation.
“I will keep myself physically fit, building a strong body free from drugs and other substances which weaken me and make me less capable of protecting myself, my family and my black brothers and sisters.
“I will unselfishly share my knowledge and understanding with them in order to bring about change more quickly.
“I will discipline myself to direct my energies thoughtfully and constructively rather than wasting them in idle hatred.
“I will train myself never to hurt or allow others to harm my black brothers and sisters, for I recognise that we need every black man, woman and child to be physically, spiritually and psychologically strong.
“These principles I pledge to practise daily and to teach them to others in order to unite my people.”
It is these principles that the blacks of the US now lack, although they still carry around guns and are still frustrated at the unfavourable system.
Their gun culture is now associated with drug and poverty-induced crime.
Because of the Panthers’ policy of arming themselves for self-defence, the lynching of blacks stopped.
However, another form of killing blacks emerged which is the lawful shooting of blacks by cops.
Thus countless blacks have been killed by police for miniscule reasons and in almost all cases; the punishment of death almost never fits the crime.
A satire of this period when Richard Nixon was US president and a local threat was imminent in the US was made in the latest installment of the Hollywood science fiction film X-men: Days of future past.
In this movie, the Panthers are portrayed as mutants with special powers which they have decided to use against the US government in a bid to save their kind.
The government turns against the mutants militarily when they take up this cause and the result is the killing of many mutants.
The theme and plot of the film which include the war of Vietnam and a crackdown on the mutants (Panthers) by US authorities betrays this movie as a satire of the actual events that took place in this period.
Elmer Geronimo Pratt eventually stayed in prison for 27 years, eight of which he was in solitary confinement.
He had been sentenced to life in prison for murder, but was released after it was found that he was more than 200km away from the place that the incident took place.
He studied law while in prison and built the strong defence that won him his victory.
He was given US$4,5 million by the Federal government for false imprisonment and wrongful accusation.
He moved to Tanzania where he took up human rights projects, particularly fighting to free prisoners who were wrongfully accused.
Geronimo passed away in his adopted country of Tanzania in June 2011.
There is a saying: “If you live by the sword or gun, you will die by it).
This proved to be true for the blacks of America.
Ben Ammi, the spiritual leader of the American Hebrew Israelites, successfully led black Americans from America to Israel beginning 1966 without resorting to guns or civil rights marches.
He once spoke saying that the whites want black Americans to fight a war that whites can win, that is, a war of guns and violence.
He said blacks should instead undertake a redemptive struggle and a war of consciousness so as to become closer to their God and identity and to become masters of their own destiny.
Seeing the tragic end of the Panther movement, and the success of the Ben Ammi movement, it is a fact that fighting the whiteman at his home-ground in the physical war he prefers is not the best way out of our problems.
However, the martyrdom of the Black Panther leaders and members was not in vain because their suffering is remembered and will inevitably determine the future actions that will be taken by black Americans in their continued pursuit for liberation.
As Newton said, “The immediate result of this destruction will be suffering and bloodshed.
“But the end result will be perpetual peace for all mankind.”

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