In 1966, the national Black Panther party was created. Their platform and it’s ideals
struck a chord with blacks across the country, especially in the inner cities of the north. The
Panthers were able to organize and unite these blacks. This alarmed the federal government.
They instituted many controversial, illegal programs of harassment, infiltration, and instigation
which led to the deaths of many Panthers.
From their inception, the Black Panthers were treated with disdain and contempt. The
Panthers wrote out a platform called “What We Want, What We Believe.” There ideas and
methods appealed greatly to blacks. The past few years had seen the civil rights struggle rise, and
had left many blacks with the feeling that not enough was being accomplished. Many Blacks
shared the view of the Panthers in that violence was needed to defend themselves until true
equality could be achieved. Aside from being militant, the Panthers did things that helped the
community. They set up breakfast, and helped people to clean up their neighborhoods. The
Black Panthers gave many urban black communities a sense of unity and identity that they hadn’t
The Panther’s rhetoric of violence alarmed the government. In March of 1968, the
Panther newspaper printed this warning to police, “Halt in the name of humanity! You shall make
no more war on unarmed people. You will not kill another black person and walk on the streets
of the black community to gloat about it and sneer at the defenseless relatives of your victims.
From now on, when you murder a black person in this Babylon or Babylons, you may as well give
it up because we will get your ass and God can’t hide you.”1 This gave the government cause for
alarm, and they stepped up their “efforts” accordingly. The government went through great
lengths to keep up the status quo. They began campaigns of disinformation against the Panthers
in order to stop any support for the Panthers. The Panthers were continuously harassed by police.
Panthers were followed and arrested on minor, sometimes fabricated charges. For Example, in
Oakland California, the headquarters of the Panthers, police would randomly arrest any Panthers.
In 1967, the FBI arrested 21 Black Panthers for “conspiring” to blow up department stores and
botanical gardens in New York.2
Not only was it local law enforcement that tried to destroy the Panthers, but the FBI was
very actively involved. The FBI had begun using their COINTELPRO program towards the...