Re: Oppressed Minorities (was: Social Engineering)

Camilla Cracchiolo (
12 Feb 1995 08:51:00 GMT

PioneerTom ( wrote:

: That comparison could be made with a little thought about the publicity
: given by gulled journalists to drug gangs "trying to reform" in various
: communities. The gangs donate a little money to youth groups, food
: programs, etc. and get some good will in the surrounding neighborhood.
: They have gotten some good press as well, at times. One has to look no
: further than the long-runnung love affair of the press with a prominent
: Bay-area street gang, the Black Panthers. Even more potent has been the
: example of the Medellin drug cartel, and it's successors in South America.

I must take issue with this characterization of the Panthers, and
particularly the comparison to the Medellin drug cartel. I know people
who used to be in the Panthers and your statement is way out of line.
The Panthers, and particularly Huey Newton, had some major problems, and
it's true that Newton got into drug dealing in his last days. But the
Panthers were primarily a political organization and *not* a gang. Some
of the most brilliant black political organizers of my generation came
out of the Black Panthers; people like Bobby Seale, Erika Huggins, David
Hillyard, Elaine Brown. Not that I expect that you've read anything by
these people or even know their names. There are many ex-Panthers who
continue politically active; the most noted example in Los Angeles is
Michael Zinzun, the founder of the Coalition Against Police Abuse, an
organization that I was privileged to work with for a while.

The Black Panthers, first and foremost, were about the right of black
people to control the black community and their right to defend
themselves against the police violence that was rampant then and that
continues largely unabated to this day. Or have we so quickly forgotten
the Rodney King case? King's situation was common in this city, I assure
you. When they started clinics and breakfast programs for children, it
wasn't a front for drug dealing, as you allege the Medellin projects
are. The people who started those programs really believed in them.

Camilla Cracchiolo, RN

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