“I think we should deal with Oakland and just say—we want an immediate end to police brutality and stop the murder of black people!”
These were the words of Bobby Hutton, the first member of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, CA, joining in 1966 when he was only 16 years old.
On April 6, 1968, just shy of his 18th birthday, Hutton was gunned down in West Oakland by Oakland police.
The police shot more than a dozen rounds into Hutton after he surrendered and stripped down to his underwear to prove that he was unarmed during a police attack on the Panthers two days after the assassination of Martin Luther King
Hutton, known as Li’l Bobby, was the party’s treasurer as well as its first member murdered by the police. More than 2,000 attended his funeral in West Oakland, including actor Marlon Brando and writer James Baldwin.
In 1967 Hutton and four other Black Panther members were arrested after a group of 30 traveled to Sacramento, the state capital, in defense of the right to carry a loaded firearm in public. The group boldly walked into the state assembly fully armed.
Forty-four years later Hutton’s statement, quoting from the 10-point program of the Black Panther Party demanding an “an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people,” strikes a deep chord as African people and their allies in the U.S. rise up for justice for Trayvon Martin, another 17 year old murdered with the support of the U.S. state.
Forty-four years later, when reportedly more African men in the U.S. have been murdered by police than U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan; when according to Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report, 1 in 8 of all prisoners in the entire world is an African in the U.S., shows that conditions, if anything, are far worse for Africans in this country than they were in 1968.
It’s the same colonialism in a country whose social system is built on the pedestal of enslaved Africans and the genocide of Indigenous people. That means that prosperity and opportunity for us white people has always come at the expense of the suffering and oppression of others.
When the Black Revolution of the 1960s led the movement of African people to rise up and begin to overthrow that pedestal, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover called this movement the “greatest internal threat” to U.S. stability since the Civil War.
By 1969 the U.S. government’s counterinsurgency program COINTELPRO had pretty much decimated the youthful and powerful movement that had galvanized support and solidarity with the liberation of African people from peoples around the world and from many white people inside the U.S
By 1969 Fred Hampton, Martin Luther King, Bunchy Carter, Malcolm X and many others along with Bobby Hutton had been brutally assassinated by the U.S. government and the organizations of the people had been destroyed.
The second step of the U.S. counterinsurgency was to salt the earth to make sure such a movement would never rise up again. They flooded the streets of Oakland and every other African community with crack cocaine and other deadly drugs. They established Jim Crow laws that sent impoverished young Africans to prison for life by the millions on charges that white people would not even be arrested for. They launched the War on the African Community.
Generation after generation of young African people have grown up watching friends, school mates and family members shot down, intimidated, arrested, degraded by a relentless police force that is an occupying army. They faced no future beyond poverty, prison and maybe a two-bit job in the illegal drug trade imposed by the government.
Except for the Uhuru Movement, there was no longer an organized mass movement to voice the interests and aspirations of the African working class and to protest the attacks on African people.
So when Nicholas Lindsay, who is also 17, in St Petersburg, FL or Lovelle Mixon in Oakland resisted this war by allegedly shooting cops in the face of a military occupation that had ground the young men down their entire lives, they walked in the footsteps of Bobby Hutton but without an organization to speak for them.
Every victim of colonial violence and oppression has the human right to resist, anywhere in the world: An Arab youth fighting the IDF in Occupied Palestine; an armed insurgent in Occupied Afghanistan; a so-called “pirate” in Somalia, an African youth in an American inner city.
All over the world, people are tired of U.S. occupation, plunder and parasitic domination and are rising up. Including here in the U.S.
For us as white people it is time for us to hear what the majority of humanity is telling us. A prosperous, opportunity-filled life at the expense of everybody else is not viable. People are coming to take back what is theirs. They are fighting for self-determination for their children, families and people.
If we want peace, if we want a future for this planet we need to jump off this pedestal and join oppressed people, beginning with African people, the colonial subjects right here in front of our eyes.
For real change we have to join the people’s struggle to overturn a parasitic system hated by the people of the earth. Join the real 99 percent. Stand in solidarity with African Liberation and Reparations.
That’s what Bobby Hutton stood for in 1968 and it’s still the same struggle today. Get organized. Join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party fighting around the world for the liberation of African people everywhere.