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Rising Up Against Police Violence, From the Black Panthers to #BlackLivesMatter


Rising Up Against Police Violence, From the Black Panthers to #BlackLivesMatter

Juan Thompson

I turned away more than once while watching Stanley Nelson’s documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. I averted my eyes from the screen when FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s nefarious mug first appeared. I turned away once more when the charismatic and admirable Fred Hampton was first shown, knowing that eventually he would be murdered by Chicago police and federal agents.


It is good to see needed attention being given to the Black Panthers. However, as a veteran of the black liberation movement during the times of the Panthers, I don’t think the writer can put the Black Lives Matter movement on the same level as the Panthers who represented a radical and revolutionary response to the plight of black Americans and others in capitalist America. The Panthers had an analysis of the current conditions along with a vision of the changes needed to transform society towards a progressive end that would benefit all people. Thus far, Black Lives Matter at best appears to be an appeal on the part of some activists demanding that representatives of the current political system show awareness of and do something about the double standards and inhumane treatment accorded black lives today. The Panthers went beyond simply focusing on the pain of black lives and appealing to those in charge for relief, but in fact attempted to organize a revolutionary movement to radically transform the American political system. Readers should definitely take a look at Elaine Brown’s article that the author of this piece mentions.


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I thought of the armed the Panthers protecting African-Americans
when I read about the all white ‘‘promise keepers’’ showing
up in Ferguson with their assault rifles to protect (??).