Four of the former Black Panther Party members shown here have been charged in a 35-year-old murder case. (L-R) Hank Jones, John Bowman (deceased), Ray Boudreaux, Harold Taylor, and Richard Brown. (Photo: Scott Braley).
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos.
This link includes raw footage of courtroom being cleared of the overflow crowd of supporters, arguments to re-open the courtroom by defense lawyers as the community chants "no justice, no peace" and other courtroom arguments.
San Francisco 8 strong in court appearance
February 15 - SF Bayview
by Claude Marks and Cynthia Nelson
In a significant showing of support, family and
friends of four of the San Francisco 8 packed the
San Francisco courtroom of Judge Little on
Wednesday. The Healing Circle, a group of Black
parents who have lost loved ones to violence,
were the most visible assembly. They carried
signs bearing the names of those they had lost,
questioning the City's pursuit of these ancient
cases against men who worked with youngsters to
stop the violence while it closes the
investigations into their children's killings.
Many people were unable to get into the
overflowing courtroom. And despite the usual
metal detectors and bag searches at the entrance
to the building, those entering the courtroom
were again scanned with metal detector wands.
As the four Ray Boudreaux, Richard Brown, Hank
Jones and Richard O'Neal were brought into the
courtroom in shackles, supporters burst into
applause, long and loud. The judge immediately
halted the proceedings, and the large showing of
sheriff's and SWAT officers cleared the
courtroom. Supporters filled the hallway outside
Department 12 chanting, "No justice, no peace."
Defense attorneys objected to closing a public
hearing and the judge agreed to let people back
into court if they agreed not to be noisy, but
only after every individual was again searched by
sheriff's deputies and wanded.
Unlike their previous court appearances since the
arrests in January, the men were shackled in
court, and close to a dozen sheriff's deputies
and SWAT officers were inside the courtroom. The
hearing opened with defense attorneys arguing
against the redundant wanding at the courtroom
entrance and for the unshackling of the brothers
as they represent no threat to the court or the public.
They pointed out that the men had appeared
voluntarily and without need of such extensive
police presence during the 2005 San Francisco
Grand Jury and that the shackling and heavy
security were prejudicial especially feeding
the sensationalist coverage of the corporate
media. The court agreed to hear security issues
in a future meeting with the sheriff and lawyers.
None of the men have yet entered pleas in the
conspiracy and murder case stemming from the
killing of a San Francisco police officer at the
Ingleside Police Station in August of 1971. The
defense called for full disclosure of government
documents, some of which were described as
inaccurate and inflammatory. Some government
documents had been presented to the court in
secret hearings outside the presence of defense
attorneys, where they could not be contested.
Although there has yet to be a formal bail
hearing, Judge Little did lower the outrageous
bail for Ray Boudreaux and Hank Jones from $5
million to $3 million still outrageous
equalized to the bail for Richard Brown and
Richard O'Neal. A formal hearing on their bail as
well as other motions was scheduled for Tuesday,
Today's court appearance was significant in a
number of ways, explained attorney Stuart
Hanlon. The strong public support for the four
men in court was a powerful reminder that these
men are part of their communities and are not
The attorney general's comments made clear that
they (the state prosecutors) want to keep these
men in jail on high bail and that they will make
excuses to explain the 35-year delay in bringing
this case. California's attorney general is now
Jerry Brown, former governor, who was until last
month mayor of Oakland.
It was made clear to us that this is the
beginning skirmish of a legal war with high
stakes the freedom of these eight former
Panthers and the rewriting of political history
by the government criminalizing the Black Panther
Party and African American freedom fighters from
the 1960s and 1970s. It is a war we will win and
that we have to win. And it is a war where the
support of the community, in and out of court, is
crucial." The brothers seemed strong and in good
Claude Marks, founder and director of Freedom
Archives, can be reached at
Cynthia Nelson, journalism graduate student at
New College and intern at the Bay View, can be
"Legacy of Torture: The War Against the Black Liberation Movement"
Film Screening and Presentation by Attorney Soffiyah Elijah
Feb. 20th, 12:00-1:30 pm
Northeastern University School of Law, (Knowles/Cargill Building) 400
Huntington Ave, Boston
Join the Northeastern Law community to learn about the recent arrests of 8 former members of the Black Panther Party, the history of repression, and what we can do about it!
Room: Cargill 97 (Basement Level, look for signs)
Public Transit: Orange Line to Ruggles or Green Line to Northeastern.
Benefit for the SF 8 Black Panthers & Eric
McDavid; Screening "Legacy of Torture" & "Battle of Algiers"
Sunday February 25
6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
The Long Haul, 3124 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA (@Woolsey St.)
$5-up sliding scale (no one turned away)
A screening of the new video about the SF 8 Black Panther grand jury resistors/arrestees. (see below for details.) This will be followed by the classic- Battle of Algiers. People will be on hand to answer questions on the SF 8, as well as offer an update Eric McDavid. There will be food, wine, & dessert. All proceeds will be split between the SF 8 & Eric McDAvid.
Please show your support!
Legacy of Torture:
The War Against The Black Liberation Movement
The same people who tried to kill me in 1973 are the same people who are here today, trying to destroy me. I mean it literally. I mean there were people from the forces of the San Francisco Police Department who participated in harassment, torture and my interrogation in 1973 ... none of these people have ever been brought to trial. None of these people have ever been charged with anything. None of these people have ever been questioned about that.
-- John Bowman, former Black Panther
In 2005 several former members of the Black Panther were held in contempt and jailed for refusing to testify before a San Francisco Grand Jury investigating a police shooting that took place in 1971. The government alleged that Black radical groups were involved in the 34-year old case in which two men armed with shotguns attacked the Ingleside Police Station resulting in the death of a police sergeant and the injuring of a civilian clerk.
In 1973, thirteen alleged "Black militants" were arrested in New Orleans, purportedly in connection with the San Francisco events. Some of them were tortured for several days by law enforcement authorities, in striking similarity to the horrors visited upon detainees in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
In 1975, a Federal Court in San Francisco threw out all of the evidence obtained in New Orleans.
The two lead San Francisco Police Department investigators from over 30 years ago, along with FBI agents, have re-opened the case. Rather than submit to proceedings they felt were abusive of the law and the Constitution, five men chose to stand in contempt of court and were sent to jail. They were released when the Grand Jury term expired, but have been told by prosecutors that "it isn't over yet."
For Immediate Release February 13, 2007
Lawyers Guild Condemns Racist Arrests of Black Panthers
Evidence Against Men Obtained Through Torture
San Francisco The National Lawyers Guild of the
San Francisco Bay Area (NLGSF) condemns the
arrests and prosecution of eight men believed to
be former members of the Black Liberation Army as
an attempt to validate political repression,
retaliation and state torture. A court hearing
is scheduled for February 14 at 9:00 a.m. at the
Superior Court, 850 Bryant Street in San Francisco.
The alleged crime, the killing of San Francisco
police officer John V. Young, took place nearly
three decades ago. In purposely removing the
trial from the context of its time, the
prosecution seeks to capitalize on the change in
public consciousness surrounding the Civil Rights
and Black Power movements and cast the defendants
as violent militants. "There has never been any
reliable evidence connecting these men to the
alleged crime, but times have changed and
prosecutors may believe this is the best shot
they have," said Carlos Villarreal, Executive
Director of the NLGSF. "At the time people were
more aware of the violence committed by law
enforcement against African Americans and radical
The state is also attempting to deny its
involvement in torturing several of the
defendants. As Stuart Hanlon, the attorney for
one of the defendants emphasizes, "people have
to understand this is actual torture with cattle
prods by New Orleans policemen, where San
Francisco policemen were sitting outside the
room, obviously knowing what was going on to get
information, torture doesn't lead to the truth.
It leads to what the torturers want to hear."
The Guild also sees the prosecution of these men
as part of a renewed crackdown on activists that
comes as law enforcement goes after environmental
activists, animal rights activists, and real or
perceived anarchists who rarely pose a threat to anyone.
The government is attempting to prosecute
these innocent men for crimes they did not commit
on the basis of their political beliefs. We see
this as part of a larger government campaign
targeting social justice activists on the false
premise of combating domestic terrorism. Organizing
against racism and police brutality should not make one
vulnerable to state retaliation. Said Mel Campagna,
Chair of the National Lawyers Guild Anti-Racism Committee.
The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area
has nearly 1,000 lawyer, law student, and legal
worker members from Sacramento to San Jose. We
seek to unite the lawyers, law students, legal
workers, and jailhouse lawyers of America in an
organization which shall function as an effective
political and social force in the service of the
people, to the end that human rights shall be
regarded as more sacred than property
interests. Find out more at http://www.nlgsf.org
For more information on their case, visit http://www.cdhrsupport.org
The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110