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REMEMBERING BOBBY JAMES HUTTON, BLACK PANTHER PARTY FOR SELF DEFENSE
April 21, 1950 - April 6, 1968
BOBBY HUTTON -
The Day My Beloved Brother Comrade was Murdered
by Terry M. Cotton
On April 6, 1968, two days after Martin
Luther King had been murdered, I got dressed and prepared to go to Central
Headquarters of the Black Panther Party (BPP) along with Panthers Jimmy Charley
and Terry Claridy. I read a chapter of the "Red Book - Quotations by
Chairman Mao" before I left. We arrived at Central Headquarters at 45th
and Grove St. to get assigned to various locations to sell the Party's
newspaper "The Black Panther," collect donations and pass out
leaflets in the community about the barbecue for the "Free Huey
Newton" defense committee to be held at then called - Defremery Park on
Later that evening, around 4pm, other
Panthers and I, in groups of two and three, were circulating in the community
and going to high schools spreading the word that despite the murder of Dr.
King, they should stay cool, lay low and refrain from all counterproductive and
random violence, because riots would cause nothing but mass genocide. If
trouble erupted, it would be open season on blacks and the BPP would be the
Around 6pm, some Party members and I met at a
Panther's apartment off San Pablo Ave. We decided that we would ride in three
vehicles transporting food and supplies for the barbecue picnic and at the same
time we would observe and patrol the police activities in the Black community.
Around 7:30pm, after patrolling and picking
up supplies for the rally, two policemen turned their cruiser south observing
and following us onto 28th street and Union street where we had stopped for a
minute for Eldridge Cleaver who had to urinate. Eldridge and L'il Bobby Hutton
were riding in a 1961 Ford with several other Panthers. I was riding shotgun,
in the center of the back seat, armed with a banana clip 30 caliber carbine.
Panther Charles Bursey was to the left of me and Donnell Lankford was to the
right. The officers pulled their cruiser to a stop in the middle of the street
side by side with these vehicles. (The 1961 Ford with Florida license plates
had been observed all week because it was known by the Oakland Police as a
Panther vehicle.) Gunfire erupted at once, two wild shots were followed
instantly by a deluge of lead that riddled the squad cars and shots were fired
by police into the rear window of the 1954 Ford in which I was riding.
More policemen flocked to the shooting scene.
Charles Bursey was able to get out of the car and escape the scene. Donnell
Lankford, who was to the right of me, attempted to open the door so we could
take cover, but the door was jammed. The door finally came open, but as soon as
we tried to exit the vehicle, there were about a dozen police with their guns
and shotguns drawn and thrust into our faces. They were making racist,
insulting remarks while we were lying face down, handcuffed behind our backs,
helpless on the pavement. They made statements such as, "you niggers just
lost Martin Luther King and if you make one move we will not hesitate to blow
your heads off."
We were then put into the police paddy wagon.
Donnell, John L. Scott and I were the first to be arrested. The over-
reactionary pigs sprayed mace into our eyes after we were already handcuffed
and helpless. As the police wagon drove away from the scene, I could barely see
out the back, but it appeared to me that there were black people running behind
the wagon saying, "Free these brothers, you racist cops." I told my
comrades in the police wagon that this was a deliberate ambush, attempting to
commit genocide against the BPP.
The booking officer asked me if I wanted to
make a statement after being booked. I said no, I was taking the 5th amendment
until I consulted with my attorney, Charles Garry. They put Lankford, Scott and
me into different holding cells. I could hear racist statements like,
"They should kill Eldridge Cleaver. He's like a wild animal running
amok." Note: the ambush of other Party members was still going on at this
time. Later that night, Harold Rodgers, Charles Garry's assistant attorney,
visited me in my cell and told me that one Party member did not survive. That
was the Party's first member and treasurer, Bobby James Hutton.
Long Live The Spirit of L"il Bobby Hutton.
Terry M.cotteon, former political prisoner and BPP member.