The Black Panthers and the Police: A Pattern of Genocide? (page 3)


February 13, 1971

by Edward Jay Epstein

The testimony of Sams, Kimbro, and McLucas was consistent with physical evidence that has not been contested in various legal proceedings having to do with the case: a .45-caliber pistol that the police found in Panther headquarters on the night of the raid ballistically matched the bullet and the bullet casing found at the scene of the murder, and fingerprints found on the car that McLucas borrowed that night matched those of Sams and Rackley and also with the statements of other Panthers who were present in the apartment on the night of the killing.

For example, Loretta Luckes, who had stood guard over Rackley while he was tied to a bed in the Panther headquarters for two days, described, in testimony during bail hearings, having helped to dress Rackley on the night of the murder while Sams and Kimbro stood over him with a pistol and rifle because, one Panther said, "he might go crazy"; then, she said, "Lonnie McLucas, Warren Kimbro, and George Sams" went out the door" with Rackley. If so, Rackley was shot not by the police but by two officers of the Black Panther Party, and since both have refused to implicate Seale, the suggestion that they might be "police agents" seems shaky at best. From what evidence has been established, police did not murder Rackley.


Nathaniel Clark, Jr., a nineteen year-old Black Panther, is listed by Garry as having been "killed by a police agent."

He was in fact killed by his wife, who told investigating officers that she had shot her husband in self-defense with his revolver after he had, in her words, “shot up with heroin and beat me.”

Because of her age, seventeen at the time, the case was remanded to a juvenile court, which adjudged the death to have resulted from involuntary manslaughter.


On March 13, 1968, while out bail on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder, Arthur Glenn Morris (also known as Arthur Coltrale) was killed by a blast from a 12-gauge shotgun in a friend's back yard. According to the friend's wife, Mrs. Henry Daily, Morris and a companion, Donald Campbell, were in the back yard talking with her husband, who had taken his 12-gauge shotgun out there with him. She heard the men arguing, then heard a volley of shots. Rushing out, she found all three men fatally shot. Apparently, there had been a shootout, in which either Morris or Campbell had shot Daily with a .32-caliber automatic (the gun found at the scene) and he had shot both men with his shotgun. None survived to tell their stories. And there was no police involved prior to the shooting.


Of the fifteen remaining "homicides" on Garry's list, four Panthers. John Jerome Huggins, Jr., Alprentice Carter, Sylvester Bell, and John Savage were actually shot to death, according to both the Black Panther Party and California authorities, by members of the US, a rival black militant organization, headed by Ron Karenga, with which the Panthers had once temporarily allied themselves in a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department.

The dispute began at the University of California at Los Angeles in the fall of 1968, when Ron Karenga attempted to select the director of the Black Studies program through the Community Advisory Board, of which he was a director. A number of Black Panthers, including Huggins and Carter, who were at that time enrolled in the black section of the "high potential" program, vigorously opposed Karenga's attempt, despite the warning of a Karenga spokesman, who said, that “this is not a decision that anybody is going to take out of our hands.... Anybody that is involved in this is going to have to come back to the community after dark."

On January 17,1969, some hundred and fifty members of the U.C.L.A. Black Students Union met in Campbell Hall on the U.C.L.A. campus to resolve the dispute over the directorship. Five members of the elite guard of the US -- known as Simbas, shortly after noon, in the student cafeteria, Huggins and Carter cornered a young Simba named Harold Jones, who had been accused of manhandling a female Panther earlier in the day, and began pummeling him. Suddenly another Simba, dressed in a dashiki, stepped up behind Huggins and fatally shot him in the back. A gun battle ensued, in which Carter was also shot to death before the Simbas fled.

Black Panthers who had been present at the meeting were reluctant to supply information at first, but they cooperated fully with the police and the prosecutor in identifying the assailants and finding witnesses after the prosecutor spoke to Garry, who, the prosecutor later reported, "instructed the local Panthers to help us in our investigation." Two of the Simbas, George Phillip Stiner and Larry Joseph Stiner, were brought to trial on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, were convicted, largely on the basis of the testimony of five Black Panther witnesses, and sentenced to life imprisonment. A third Simba, Donald Hawkins, was also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, and was sentenced to an indefinite term in the detention program of the California Youth Authority.

In the aftermath of the gun battle in Campbell Hall, two more Black Panthers were killed by members of the same US organization, according to both the Black Panther Party and the police. "At about 3:30 p.m. on May 23rd in San Diego, California, Lt. John Savage, Black Panther Party, was murdered by a white-washed Karangatang, a member of the US organization led by Ron (Everett) Karenga," the Black Panther newspaper reported, and it went on, "Mr. Karenga, better known as pork chop, is leading his culturalized pork chops in a futile attempt to destroy the Black Panther Party." The US member who shot Savage was eventually arraigned and pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter.

A few weeks after Savage's death, another Panther, Sylvester Bell, who was selling the Black Panther newspaper in Otto Square in San Diego, was approached by three members of US, who, according to the Black Panther account of the incident, asked him, "Are you talking about us this week?" A fight broke out, during which Bell was joined by two fellow-Panthers, and one of the three members of US drew a gun and fatally shot Bell. The San Diego police arrested three members of US and indicted them for murder. One was convicted of murder, and the two others were convicted as accessories. Since Garry himself and the Panthers assisted the authorities in the identification and prosecution of some of those involved in the killings, his subsequent inclusion of these four names in his list of Panthers murdered by the police is, at best, erroneous.


Franko Diggs, forty, who was a captain in the Black Panther Party, was found fatally shot in the Watts section of Los Angeles on December 19, 1968. No witnesses to the shooting could be found, but the police identified the murder weapon from the bullets as a foreign-made 9-mm. automatic pistol. Almost a year later, when the Los Angeles police crime laboratory was doing routine ballistics tests on eighteen weapons seized in a raid on Black Panther headquarters early in 1969, it was found that one of the confiscated Panther automatics ballistically matched the bullet that had killed Diggs. The chain of ownership could not be established, however, so the owner at the time Diggs was shot could not be identified. According to the police, the crime remains unsolved, but Garry, almost a year after Diggs' death, added his name to the list of Black Panthers killed by police. So 18 panthers on Garry’s list were not, according to evidence so far discovered, killed by the police.

The ten remaining Black Panthers on Garry's list were in fact killed by the police: five in 1968 and five in 1969. Whether these deaths were deliberate murders carried out as part of what Garry called a "national scheme" to wipe out the Panthers depends, of course, on the circumstances under which each of the deaths occurred.


This is a totally commerce-free site.
No charges, no advertising.
The webmistress can be reached at